In the early eighties, when the writer James Lasdun was working in publishing, he rejected a book by a writer who turned out to be a pen name for Doris Lessing. The fallout? He couldn’t bring himself to read her work until this year. (Related: our own Mark O’Connell’s interview with Lasdun about his latest book.)
Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?