In nine stunning essays, the inimitable Vivian Gornick returns to the books that have shaped her. From a reporter in 1970s New York, to a feminist negotiating love and independence, to a writer in the jubilant sanctity of older age: Gornick’s life is compelling, and in the characters of literature she finds versions of herself through the years, each time she opens the page.
Gornick finds solace in the contradictory figures of D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, assesses womanhood in Colette, and reflects on Marguerite Duras’s The Lover; she revisits Great War novels by J.L. Carr and Pat Barker, uncovers the psychological complexity in Elizabeth Bowen, and soaks in Natalia Ginzberg, ‘whose work … made me love life more’. When two erratic, highly strung cats enter her life, she discovers Doris Lessing’s Particularly Cats.
Infused with Gornick’s trademark verve and insight, this collection is a masterful appreciation of literature and its ability to illuminate.