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Letters & Essays: G-I

Letters & Essays of the Day

Postwar Paris: Chronicles of Literary Life

By Alice Adams

Two of the most distinguished American literary artists of their generation—their names as frequently invoked by critics and historians as they are seldom linked—appear here in a conversation that is mostly about being in Pans after the Second World War. The occasion giving rise to this conversation was a late September, 1996, University of Pennsylvania weekend observation of my retirement from the English faculty there. When friends Norman Malier and Richard Wilbur accepted invitations to attend, I suggested talking about this experience that both had often said was personally important, that neither had ever overtly visited in his works, and that happened to have a particular relevance to the Penn audience in that season.

Travels with Ezra

By Dan Glover

At graduation, a few scholarly patrons flung money at me from afar, and I went to Italy to chart the constellation of Ezra Pound's allusions, icy and distant in his Cantos alone. I brought Ezra everywhere for a year, his books bundled deep in my backpack, like captives held behind the glass of a departing phaeton. I visited towns for a stanza—sometimes a line-treating the annotations of biographers and fellow travelers as chalk marks on a fence: Go here, it is very beautiful. Don't go there, it is nearly destroyed.

Letter from Greenwich Village

By Vivian Gornick

For nearly twenty years now Leonard and I have met once a week for a walk, dinner, and a movie, either in his neighborhood or mine. Except for the two hours in the movie, we hardly ever do anything else but talk. One of us is always saying, Let’s get tickets for a play, a concert, a reading, but neither of us ever seems able to ­arrange an evening in advance of the time we are to meet. The fact is, ours is the most satisfying conversation either of us has, and we can’t bear to give it up even for one week. 

Wild Flavor

By Karl Taro Greenfeld

Fang Lin woke to the usual din: the bleat of a truck reversing; the steady, metallic tattoo of a jackhammer; the whining buzz of a steel saw; the driving in of nails; the slapping down of bricks; the irregular thumping—like sneakers in a dryer—of a cement mixer.

Up and down the coast, from Shenzhen to Fujian to Shanghai to Tianjin, this was what you heard. They were building—a skyscraper, a shopping mall, a factory, a new highway, an overpass, a subway, a train station—here, there, everywhere.