This compulsively readable collection of profiles and essays by James Campbell, tied together by a beguiling autobiographical thread, proffers unique observations on writers and writing in the post-1950s period. Campbell considers writers associated with the "New Yorker" magazine, including John Updike, William Maxwell, Truman Capote, and Jonathan Franzen. Continuing his longterm engagement with African American authors, he offers an account of his legal battle with the FBI over James Baldwin's file and a new profile of Amiri Baraka. He also focuses on the Beat poets Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg, as well as writers such as Edmund White and Thom Gunn. Campbell's concluding essay on his childhood in Scotland gracefully connects the book's autobiographical dots.
James Campbell writes a weekly column for the Times Literary Supplement and is the author of This Is The Beat Generation, Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin, and Exiled in Paris. He is a regular contributor to the New York Times Book Review.
Preface Acknowledgments PART I NEW YORK NEW YORKERS 1. Sunshine and Shadows: AProfile of John Updike 2. Updike's Village Sex 3. William Maxwell's Lives 4. Notes from a Small Island: AProfile of Shirley Hazzard 5. Love, Truman: Capote's Letters and Stories 6. Franzen, Oprah, and High Art 7. Drawing Pains: A Profile of Art Spiegelman 8. Listening in the Dark: AProfile of William Styron PART II THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE 9. I Heard It through the Grapevine: James Baldwin and the FBI 10. The Island Affair: Richard Wright's Unpublished Last Novel 11. The Man Who Cried: John A. Williams 12. All That Jive: Stanley Crouch 13. Love Lost: Toni Morrison 14. The Rhetoric of Rage: AProfile of Amiri Baraka PART III SYNCOPATIONS 15. High Peak Haikus: AProfile of Gary Snyder 16. Between Moving Air and Moving Ocean: Thom Gunn and Gary Snyder 17. Was That a Real Poem?: Robert Creeley 18. Fifty Years of "Howl" 19. Personal/Political: AProfile of Edmund White 20. To Beat the Bible: AProfile of J. P. Donleavy 21. The Making of a Monster: Alexander Trocchi 22. Travels with RLS Coda: Boswell and Mrs. Miller; A Memoir of Two Tongues