“Yes, he cheated, he cracked up, he was irresponsible and even cruel in the way he marshaled his life for his art. Lowell nonetheless believed that women were his intellectual and artistic equals. He spent most of his life behaving accordingly even as he treated his wives and mistresses so terribly, in romantic terms, that it was almost operatic. That is the puzzle of Robert Lowell and women.” It’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but this piece on the inarguably tumultuous relationship between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick is sure to make you feel something.
In an interview for The Atlantic, Greil Marcus talks about his new book The Doors: A Lifetime of Listening to Five Mean Years. Later on, however, he tosses off his gloves to dismiss the bits about Pauline Kael in James Wolcott's memoir Lucking Out. "I’m not really interested in what Jim has to say about Pauline," Marcus says. "He became an acolyte of Pauline’s in a way that was embarrassing to read, when he was mimicking her and celebrating her in The Village Voice."
Over at The Margins, Franny Choi, Ali Eteraz, and others respond to Calvin Trillin’s New Yorker poem, “Have They Run Out of Provinces Yet?” As they put it, “Trillin is part of the ‘we’ in his poem but it’s clear that Chinese and Chinese American people are not. Instead, invoking Yellow Peril fears, Trillin speaks of the threat food from ‘more provinces’ while ignoring that those provinces are home to people, too.”
A hundred years after the First World War began, many people are looking anew at the conflict, among them Thomas Laquer, who wrote a lengthy reflection of its causes in an LRB review of Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers. In The New Yorker, George Packer uses the war as a jumping-off point for an essay on a broader topic: the evolution of war literature in the modern world.
The second time Eudora Welty met William Faulkner, the latter brought the former out on a ride in his boat. She wrote a letter to Jean Stafford in 1949 that described the experience in entertaining detail. At The Paris Review Daily, you can read the letter in full. Pair with: James McWilliams on Faulkner’s novel The Reivers.