Penelope Fitzgerald: A Life - Hermione Lee

Sometimes you read a biography as much for its author as for its subject. That’s true for the masterful Hermione Lee; following rich portraits of Virginia Woolf and Edith Wharton, Lee brings her insight to the life, times, and work of Penelope Fitzgerald (Knopf, $35). Daughter of a Punch editor who grew up amid thinkers and artists, Fitzgerald (1916-2000) said she was born “dipped in ink” and expected to become a writer herself. Early contributions to her father’s magazine, writing and editing for World Review journal, and scriptwriting for the BBC put her on track to fulfill her promise. But writing was interrupted by decades of poverty. Fitzgerald’s husband was an alcoholic and spectacularly lost his position as a barrister. The family moved into a converted coal barge. After it sank, they spent eleven years in council housing. Fitzgerald raised three children, taught school, and stayed with her husband. Only in 1975 did she become the Penelope Fitzgerald we know, turning out three biographies and nine short, elegant novels, four of them short-listed for the Booker Prize, which she won for Offshore in 1979 (beating out V.S. Naipaul). It was an amazing career, and Lee has delved into Fitzgerald’s notebooks and letters to show how this distinctive writer created her unique fictions.

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ISBN: 9780804170499
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Vintage - October 13th, 2015

Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh - John Lahr

In The New Yorker writer John Lahr’s stunning biography, Williams comes across as a more dramatic figure than the characters he created for the stage. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (W.W. Norton, $39.95) is the story of a man haunted by his sexuality, by his bruised but not-yet-broken family, and by the raucous decades that inspired what are arguably the greatest works in American theater. Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh doesn’t just present the scintillating details of Williams’s many affairs and lifelong heartbreaks, Lahr also conveys how physically taxing it was on the playwright to be ignored for the first half of his career. From the groundbreaking The Glass Menagerie to the filming of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Lahr diligently and eloquently chronicles Williams’s struggles to create, to gain recognition, and to find personal happiness.

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ISBN: 9780393351651
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2015

Hemingway's Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost - Paul Hendrickson

Hemingway named her Pilar after a shrine in a Spanish village where he’d watched bullfights in his younger days. Pilar represented everything he loved, and she was the only female he was ever faithful to. For the last twenty-seven years of his life Pilar was Hemingway’s Boat (Knopf, $30), and she was no gentlemanly yacht, but a virile powerboat on which he could be cock of the bridge. Hemingway was also a passionate fisherman, hunter of German subs, and composer of prize-winning stories, as well as a failed father to his three scarred sons and wayward husband to his four wives. He brought his own life of early creative promise to a sad and self-destructive end.   “His life, like his boat, beat against so many crosscurrents,” writes Paul Hendrickson, author of the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning Sons of Mississippi in this beautiful and unconventional biography of Hemingway.

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ISBN: 9781400075355
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Vintage - July 24th, 2012