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Posts Tagged ‘Eudora Welty’

Eudora Welty Knew How to Make a Good Impression, and Other News

March 14, 2014 | by

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Sobriety pays. Portrait of Welty at the National Portrait Gallery; photo by Billy Hathorn, via Wikimedia Commons

 

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My First Book(s)

December 6, 2013 | by

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There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. —Red Smith

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I wrote my first first book over the course of three months, from July 23 to October 23, 1979. Four weeks in, I turned eighteen. This was a novel, and not the first I’d attempted; in fifth grade, I had written forty pages of a saga called Gangwar in Chicago, inspired by The Godfather and taking place in a city where I’d never been. Setting the story in Chicago meant scouring the map in World Book for locations: Canal Street, I recall, was one. I chose it because I knew Canal Street in New York, and it seemed the sort of landscape in which a gang war could take place. To this day, I have never seen Chicago’s Canal Street, despite the twenty years I spent visiting my wife’s family in a suburb on the North Shore.

The other novel, the one I finished, was motivated almost entirely by a specific case of envy—of my friend Fred, who had spent the same summer working on a novel of his own. Fred and I were high school writing buddies, confiding to each other, as we wandered the grounds of our New England boarding school, that we both wanted to win the Nobel Prize. Now, he’d written a campus novel, tracing his difficulties as a one-year senior, parsing the school’s social hierarchy in a way that seemed enlightening and true. Fred was more serious, more focused; he not only knew what symbolism was but also how to use it. It made sense that he would write a novel, and that it would be good. A year later, he would write another one, and then we lost track of each other, until six or seven years later, when his short stories started to appear in magazines. Read More »

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Eudora Welty, Photographer

September 27, 2013 | by

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The Wiljax Gallery of Cleveland, Mississippi, is featuring a selection of Eudora Welty’s Depression-era photographic portraits, which the young writer developed and printed herself in her Jackson kitchen. It was the first time many of her subjects had been photographed; Welty reportedly tried to give copies to almost all of them. She would pursue photography through the 1950s; pictures she took were inspiration for several of her short stories.

 

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Banned Books, Mugging, and Other News

September 27, 2013 | by

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  • The beleaguered Edgar Allan Poe House, in Baltimore, will re-open to visitors weekends in October, prior to its official reopening in spring 2014.
  • A survey conducted by the National Endowment for the Arts finds, depressingly, that less than half of respondents read a book for pleasure in 2012.
  • “When it became Scotland’s National Book Town 15 years ago, it was a place suffering from the decline of traditional industries.” A visit to the Wigtown Book Festival, “a place saved by books.” 
  • Banned books mug shots.
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    What We’re Loving: Crapalachia, Welty, Animalia

    February 22, 2013 | by

    crapalachiaThough the book doesn’t come out until the middle of next month, I can’t wait until then to say how much I liked Scott McClanahan’s Crapalachia. It’s about his youth in rural West Virginia, where he spent his formative years under the influence of his Grandma Ruby and Uncle Nathan, who suffered from cerebral palsy. The book is subtitled “a biography of a place,” but it’s more a biography of a handful of people, and Ruby and Nathan are easily its star characters: beguiling in their weirdness and utterly charming in their deep affection for each other and for Scott. His voice is wholly unaffected, and his account manages to be both comic and unpretentiously sentimental. —Nicole Rudick

     My worst reading habit is not reading too fast, or too slow, or stopping books in the middle, or right before the end (though I do all of those things). It’s my persistent impulse to read books that reflect my mood—an impulse that, if indulged often, reduces my reading list to a positively uncatholic range of authors and subjects. But one recent evening, my initial, “safe” pick (James’s The Golden Bowl) was thwarted by Geneviève Castrée’s Susceptible, which, when spotted in a pile of neglected books, looked too intriguing to let alone. An autobiographical comic, the work is less like an illustrated diary and more like a scrapbook; it shows rather than tells, pasting together a series of vignettes to build a narrative of the author’s troubled early life. Castrée’s beautifully toned black-and-white drawings even read more like vintage photographs than they do sketches. The book’s pervasive melancholy is still lingering with me, a reminder of why we really read: to feel things besides our own emotions. —Clare Fentress Read More »

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    In Miss Eudora’s Garden

    February 20, 2012 | by

    Eudora Welty. Photograph by Jill Krementz.

    There are certain towns that are forever linked with the authors who lived there. Oxford, Mississippi, is Faulkner land, parts of New Orleans’s Toulouse Street belong irrevocably to Tennessee Williams, and Monroeville, Alabama, is Harper Lee’s territory as surely as if it had been marked on the state map. If Jackson, Mississippi, had a patron saint, it would be Eudora Welty.

    Miss Eudora, as native Jacksonites affectionately call her, was a fixture in the capital city of Mississippi from her childhood until her death in 2001. Her presence is still inescapable. Visit the Mayflower Café, off Capitol Street, and you’ll hear about Miss Eudora’s fondness for plate lunches of fried catfish and butter beans. Dig through the waist-high volumes at Choctaw Books and, with luck, you can come across a volume signed in Welty’s bunched and looping hand. Ask an alumnus of Belhaven University about Welty, and they’ll tell you how she used to keep the window of her bedroom open to listen to the music department practice, her head just visible in the top floor window as she sat at her typewriter

    Author’s homes on public display tend to have a stuffy quality, all velvet ropes and militantly made beds. The assiduousness of the preservation drains the life from them, makes them seem impossibly antique. Welty’s house, a Tudor-style revival tucked into a thicket of pines, is almost unbearably welcoming. Visiting feels like an intrusion on her privacy. Read More »

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