When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.
I found Scott Donaldson in his cozy attic office on campus and we spent a long afternoon talking. Or rather, Donaldson talked while I took notes. He told me he had met Cheever just once, in the summer of on Nantucket.
Donaldson drank gin and tonic while Cheever, newly rid of a life-long addiction to alcohol, drank water and tea as he talked for hours about his brother, his journals, and his many love affairs -- with men and women.
Donaldson, as I would write in my newspaper article, "seemed to enjoy having the mirror turned on him for a change.
It was his turn to do the talking, and he, like John Cheever a dozen summers ago on Nantucket, had plenty to say. The Charlie Fenton Storywhich blends memoir with biography. At the age of 41, while at work on a book about the Spanish Civil War and seemingly at the peak of his powers, Fenton jumped to his death from the roof of the Washington Duke Hotel in Durham, N.
In Death of a Rebel, Donaldson notes that writing literary biographies "is a profession Charlie Fenton had more or less handed down to me. Donaldson spoke with us recently by telephone from his home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
I dug out a clip of that article I wrote -- Scott Donaldson: Yeah, I still have a clip of it too.
Then you had to rewrite the draft. I can see mistakes I made now, as I could not have seen them in Well, I presented myself as knowing too much when I got to know the kids. I understand that, but I never really saw that there had to be any conflict between what I was doing and what they were doing.
But they sure did They have their own ideas.
Anyway, at that lunch Susan had just finished her memoir about her father, which was very, very good-- TM: I was unhappy that she did it before my book came out laughs because it covered some of the same ground.
One of the advantages of being a literary biographer is that to the extent you can quote and paraphrase and borrow from the work of a great writer, it sure as hell helps your book. You also mentioned, when we talked, that you felt that the cuts you had to make and the rewriting you had to do made your book a better book.
Do you still feel that way?
I do, I do. Back in the s I wound up on a panel with the science fiction writer Orson Scott Card.
I mean, Cheever is using these journals to excoriate himself a great deal -- for drinking, for sexual infidelities, for all kinds of things.The British author Penelope Lively called Staley in and told him that rain was leaking through the roof of her London home.
“Tom, I guess I’m ready to move on this,” she said. Staley. Reviews, essays, books and the arts: the leading international weekly for literary culture.
Sylvia Plath suffered from depression for much of her life and committed suicide, at the age of 30, in ‘We were both amazed that these existed [Plath] had a conflicted attitude. The Painted Veil ~ William Somerset Maugham This is a book to get lost in, not just in the usual way of books, but in a way that is haunting and will have you musing for days and days, long after you have turned the final page.
Get expert guidance from the world's #1 pregnancy and parenting resource, delivered via email, our app, and website. In , it bought the English poet Ted Hughes’ archives for a reported $,, and it has since added other important troves of his papers, which will attract not only scholars of modern British poetry, but also those studying Hughes’ wife, Sylvia Plath.