The most accessible of the New York School of poets proves to be a delightful letter writer, as this breezy stream of correspondence over 40 years attests. Highlights are his regular bulletins to fellow poets John Ashbery, Barbara Guest and Kenneth Koch (Frank O'Hara and W.H. Auden are sadly missing). Schuyler's letters are primarily a means of keeping in touch, garnished with gossip, film and theater recommendations and other amusements. He does, of course, find time to comment archly on contemporary poetry, give solid editorial criticism, preview his own verse (including the unpublished "A Blue Shadow Painting") and collaborate with Ashbery on their satiric novel, A Nest of Ninnies. In addition to the city's poetry scene, Schuyler moved in the Manhattan art world, American expatriate cliques in Italy and gay New York. Keeping up with Schuyler's wide interests, gregariousness and penchant for name dropping, editor Corbett supplies hundreds of footnotes. There are, however, gaps in the record, starting at the time of Schuyler's nervous breakdown in 1961 and recurring over his final two decades as he struggled with mental illness. But Schuyler, unlike a friend who wanted all his letters burned, wrote to amuse his correspondents, not confess to posterity; he never worried, like that friend, about leaving behind what he called "a whited sepulcher" for himself.
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"A marvelous selection of letters of the New York poet James Schuyler" -- John Ashbery -- Times Literary Supplement, December 3, 2004
"If literatures most basic purpose is to give pleasure, then Schuylers letters are indeed literature." -- Rain Taxi
"The glimpses afforded here of [Fairfield Porter] have a special immediacy and pungency." -- The New Republic, December 13, 2004
"The winsome selection of Schuylers correspondence edited by poet William Corbett" -- Bookforum, Dec/Jan 2005
"Witty, graceful, sophisticated, but also gossipy informative, curious, occasionally waspish, intrigued and intriguing, full of amusing anecdotes " -- Mark Ford -- The New York Review, November 17, 2005