December 25, 2000 |
A winter's night, a traveler, a story: a classic combination, as the great Italian storyteller Italo Calvino reminded us. For untold centuries, long before the Internet, the television or the shopping mall, people have gathered round the fire on long dark nights and exchanged the gift of stories. Tales of awe and wonder, of course, are appropriate to the holiday season.
January 2, 2005 |
Literary critic Rosemary Dinnage was packing for a move and sorting her files when her life spilled out across her knees; book reviews, if you write them for a long time, amount to autobiography. What do I sniff out? Who do others think I am? She loved adventurous, oddball women at risk of being erased or lied about. Over four decades, writing mainly in the New York Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement, she got to be known by editors for this propensity.
October 11, 2008 |
A CENTURY ago, Katherine Mansfield was beginning a distinguished literary career that would lead to her becoming New Zealand's best-known literary figure. By the time she died in her mid-30s in 1923, her stories had captured her nation's life in luminous, evocative prose. But Mansfield wrote these stories in Europe, for she had left her native land as a young woman, eager to escape what she saw as a parochial backwater.
January 28, 2007 |
THOMAS HARDY has been widely read and much reported on, but he remains an enigmatic figure and very hard to assess. As we learn from Claire Tomalin's biography, paradox abounds. Revered and reviled in equal measure, Hardy was hailed both as a revolutionary and an arch-conservative. Born poor, he died rich; a melancholy and secretive man, he was happy in the Savile Club and pleased by invitations to the tables of the great.
February 18, 1989 |
When novelist Gwyneth Cravens served as a fiction editor at The New Yorker in the mid-'80s, she worked with such literary lights as Milan Kundera, Susan Sontag, Deborah Eisenberg, Bruce McCall, Tama Janowitz and dozens of other writers of similar wattage. "It was just wonderful to work there," said Cravens, a visiting writer at UC Irvine this quarter. "And it was interesting to work with different kinds of writers with different styles.
January 12, 1987 |
Bluebeard's Egg and Other Stories by Margaret Atwood (Houghton Mifflin: $16.95) The first story in this remarkable collection is "Significant Moments in the Life of My Mother." What dear moments, and what a sweet mother. Here are her little tales--of taking her children to a tea party, only to have her baby daughter take one cookie and talk to it, while her rambunctious son wolfs down the entire contents of the rest of the platter.
June 23, 1991 |
Joseph Conrad was an unlikely person to have become one of the great novelists of the English language. For a start, he was born Teodor Korzeniowski, the son of a Polish aristocrat. On top of that, he was not terribly well educated in any conventional sense, having left high school before graduating. As a boy, he wanted, more than anything, to go to sea. And go to sea he did.
November 11, 2003 |
Tobias Wolff is cracking up a lecture hall full of sleepy Stanford University freshmen before noon on a gray day. He is lanky and balding, with a trim mustache and round, silver-rimmed glasses, the kind of English professor in khakis who doesn't let on that he is a marquee literary name, the author of the seminal 1989 memoir "This Boy's Life."