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The Company They Kept, Volume II: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships
Many of the contributors to The New York Review of Books have written about deep and abiding relationships-both personal and intellectual-with fellow poets, writers, and artists. Writers on Unforgettable Friendships is a collection of twenty-eight accounts of these friendships that were always stimulating, often inspiring, and sometimes vexing. There are historic moments-Isaiah Berlin’s conversations with Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova-as well as lighthearted ones-Bruce Chatwin’s hilarious drunken evening with George Ortiz and Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale’s subway ride with George Balanchine. Many of the portraits include vivid images that otherwise would have been lost forever: the poet Ossip Mandelstam, who Anna Akhmatova first glimpsed as “ …a thin young boy with a twig of lily-of-the-valley in his button-hole”; the young Gore Vidal in Dawn Powell’s living room suddenly realizing “ …this is a menage a trois in Greenwich Village. My martini runs over”; twelve-year-old aspiring cartoonist John Updike writing Saul Steinberg to ask for a cartoon he had seen in The New Yorker. Each portrait is written with feeling and fullness of heart.
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