From Publishers Weekly
While Welty and her New Yorker editor Maxwell were contemporaries, he 34, she 33 when they first met at a New York literary party in 1942, they seemed to be virtual opposites. He was a devoted family man; she was a loner. His nearly 200 letters to her divulged his entire personality; among the surviving letters, Welty omitted any reference to the love of her life, married crime novelist Ross Macdonald. But Welty and Maxwell recognized from the get-go that they were kindred spirits. The correspondence of this volume, gracefully edited and annotated by Welty's biographer Marrs, takes off in 1951, when the New Yorker began to publish Welty's fiction. Maxwell was an accomplished writer, too, and in these unfailingly cozy letters, which take us up to the 1990s into his old age, the pair discuss not only their work together and apart, but the orchids they loved, their day-to-day lives, and the writers they admired, from Virginia Woolf and Dylan Thomas to J.D. Salinger. Both correspondents were blessed with personality-plus, mirrored in these letters. Also included are one essay, one speech, and one reader's report by Maxwell. Photos. (May 12)
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"How rewarding to become the third person present in the discoveries of life and literature between Eudora Welty and William Maxwell. I have always believed the only ‘knowing’ one can have of a fiction writers is through the fiction itself; but here, in the personal medium of to-and-fro wit and vitality, is to be had further experience of the writer Eudora Welty, whose stories, in particular, have opened my vision of human relations." —Nadine Gordimer "What a glorious collection! These letters make a map into the very heart of friendship and creativity. They are bursting with intelligence, tenderness, and insight. Every page is a privilege to read."
—Ann Patchett, author of The Patron Saint of Liars
, Bel Canto
, among others "Something truly special happened each time Eudora Welty and William Maxwell wrote a letter to the other. Suzanne Marrs has collected more than 300 of those letters and set them into a time and context. Anyone who relishes and celebrates the magic use of words, storytelling, and friendship will treasure the end result forever. And, most likely, they will continue to pick it up and read from it forever. It’s truly that kind of special."
—Jim Lehrer "A complex improvisation carried on for years by two artists for whom nothing in the realm of literature or feeling was remote."
—Alec Wilkinson, author of The Happiest Man in the World
and My Mentor: A Young Writer’s Friendship with William Maxwell
"This book lets us in on the happy fact that two splendid writers, who did not sacrifice humanity to career, were warmly admitted to each others’ lives."
—Richard Wilbur "These letters evoke a lost world when events moved a bit more slowly, and friends could take the time to be both eloquently witty and generous with each other, and letters were unobtrusively artful about daily life. Welty and Maxwell are like two birds of the same species, calling to each other across the distances."
—Charles Baxter "If friendship is an art, this volume is its masterpiece—the complex rendering of two long, literate lives well-lived, always written with care, intelligence, grace, and even humor
! Miss Welty’s gentle, constant humor is a revelation, providing the grace notes in this beautiful exchange. And, oh my—our own paltry e-mails pale beside these letters, as our scatter-shot lives seem trivial in comparison to the constancy and purpose of the correspondents."
—Lee Smith "A literary revelation. Suzanne Marrs’s editing of this rich collection is superlative."
—Roger Mudd, journalist and broadcaster
"One of the richest and most riveting collections of famous-people letters to emerge in some time."
"A vivid snapshot of 20th-century intellectual life and an informative glimpse of the author-editor relationship, as well a tender portrait of devoted friendship."—Kirkus Reviews