In this book, novelist Colm Toibin offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of his most important literary influences--the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Ranging across her poetry, prose, letters, and biography, Toibin creates a vivid picture of Bishop while also revealing how her work has helped shape his sensibility as a novelist and how her experiences of loss and exile resonate with his own. What emerges is a compelling double portrait that will intrigue readers interested in both Bishop and Toibin. For Toibin, the secret of Bishop's emotional power is in what she leaves unsaid. Exploring Bishop's famous attention to detail, Toibin describes how Bishop is able to convey great emotion indirectly, through precise descriptions of particular settings, objects, and events. He examines how Bishop's attachment to the Nova Scotia of her childhood, despite her later life in Key West and Brazil, is related to her early loss of her parents--and how this connection finds echoes in Toibin's life as an Irish writer who has lived in Barcelona, New York, and elsewhere.
Beautifully written and skillfully blending biography, literary appreciation, and descriptions of Toibin's travels to Bishop's Nova Scotia, Key West, and Brazil, On Elizabeth Bishop provides a fresh and memorable look at a beloved poet even as it gives us a window into the mind of one of today's most acclaimed novelists.
Colm Toibin is the author of eight novels, three of which have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize: The Blackwater Lightship, The Master (the Los Angeles Times Novel of the Year), and The Testament of Mary. His other novels include Nora Webster and Brooklyn. He is the Irene and Sidney B. Silverman Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University, a regular contributor to the New York Review of Books, and a contributing editor at the London Review of Books.
No Detail Too Small 1 One of Me 9 In the Village 15 The Art of Losing 30 Nature Greets Our Eyes 41 Order and Disorder in Key West 62 The Escape from History 77 Grief and Reason 96 The Little That We Get for Free 115 Art Isn't Worth That Much 135 The Bartok Bird 162 Efforts of Affection 174 North Atlantic Light 193 Acknowledgments 201 Bibliography 203