Photograph by Michael Birt
In honor of the arrival of ARC’s for Liz’s novel, THE LAST SUMMER OF THE CAMPERDOWNS (June), Liz and her editor Katie had a quick Q&A. The shorter version appeared on twitter (@ElizabethKelly8, @KatieANYC) but here’s a full transcript:
Katie: Your protagonist, Riddle, reads Trixie Belden; what were some of your early literary loves?
Liz: I loved Trixie Belden, too—couldn’t stand Nancy Drew. Was obsessed with fairy tales and animal stories: Black Beauty, Beautiful Joe. Albert Payson Terhune’s books about his Sunnybank Collies were among my most treasured possessions.
Discovered the poetry of Dylan Thomas when I was 12 and T. S. Elliot. Yeats. Life changer. I also began to read Brendan Behan in my early teens, which was the start of my great love for playwrights—Tennessee Williams, Oscar Wilde, Eugene O’Neill.
I read Rebecca and The Collector a million times and one of my first great romantic loves was Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities—he was the first in a long series of imaginary boyfriends.
I was also addicted to Sixteen Magazine. I think it’s safe to say that I have spent more than I have ever earned on magazines.
|From E. E. Cummings 1946 play "Santa Claus, A Morality," comes this very special holiday selection, included in the upcoming, THEATRE OF E. E. CUMMINGS (January 2013)|
|Death:||Something wrong, brother?|
|Santa Claus:||Sick at heart.|
|Death:||What seems to be the trouble? Come -- speak out.|
|Santa Claus:||I have so much to give; and nobody will take.|
|Death:||My problem is also one of distribution, only it happens to be the other way round.|
|Santa Claus:||The other way round?|
|Santa Claus:||What do you mean?|
|Death:||I mean I have so much to take; and nobody will give.|
“The bottom of the sea is cruel.” -Hart Crane, Voyages
A bit of history for everyone: Although in 1925 Hemingway was initially delighted to accept a publishing contract with Boni & Liveright, Inc., he was soon pursuaded by his friend F. Scott Fitzgerald that he could make more money from Charles Scribner’s Sons with lucrative submissions to Scribner’s Magazine. Hemingway satirized his early mentor Sherwood Anderson, who was also published by Boni & Liveright, in Torrents of Spring. When Liveright refused to publish this title, Hemingway argued that his contract with them had been broken, and moved to Scribner’s, where he enjoyed a long relationship with editor Maxwell Perkins.
“Literature is news that stays news.” -Ezra Pound
I haven’t read “The Waste Land” for a year, and I never did bother to check all the footnotes. But I will hazard these statements—Eliot contains the same ecstatic vision which runs from Münzer to Yeats. However, he retains a grounding in the social reality/order of his time. Facing what he perceives as a choice between ecstatic chaos and lifeless mechanistic order, he accedes to maintaining a separation of asexual purity and brutal sexual reality. And he wears a stoical face before this. Read his essay on Tradition and the Individual Talent, as well as Four Quartets, when he’s less concerned with depicting moribund Europe, to catch a sense of what I speak. Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—Eliot is of this type. Of course, the dichotomy he maintains is reactionary, but it’s due to a deep fatalism, not ignorance. (Counter him with Yeats or Pound, who, arising from the same milieu, opted to support Hitler and Mussolini.) And this fatalism is born out of the relation between fertility and death, which I touched on in my last letter—life feeds on itself. A fatalism I share with the western tradition at times. You seem surprised at Eliot’s irreconcilable ambivalence; don’t you share this ambivalence yourself, Alex?
If Obama loses in November, he at least has a bright future as a literary critic. In that case, we’ll let him write on more Liveright books anytime.