Mentors, Muses & Monsters at Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, Nov. 23
Elizabeth Benedict, Lily Tuck, Alexander Chee, Martha Southgate, Mary Gordon


Martha's Vineyard Likes Us

Book reviewer Brooks Robards, in the Martha's Vineyard Times, loves Mentors, Muses & Monsters. She writes: "The essays are not simply worshipful tributes to literary lions. Each writer shades in the nuances of character and experience that make his subject come to life, and each reads like a short story. ... For the reader aspiring to sharpen his own craft, gem after gem emerges from this book's pages.

"The patterns among writers and influences emerge regardless of the order in which the essays are read, and I confess I haven't finished reading all the essays. In truth, I am reluctant to complete it, so deliciously rich and illuminating have I found each offering. I suspect any writer or serious reader will feel the same way."


Do Writers Need Mentors?

Your thoughts?

Teasers for Monday's Panel-Nov. 23-Brooklyn

Monday Nov. 23 @ 7.30pm
Greenlight Bookstore
Fort Greene, Brooklyn
718 246-0200
Elizabeth Benedict, Alexander Chee, Mary Gordon, Martha Southgate, and Lily Tuck

From Alexander Chee's essay on Annie Dillard:
“If I’ve done my job, she said in the last class, you won’t be happy with anything you write for the next ten years. It’s not because you won’t be writing well, but because I’ve raised your standards for yourself. Don’t compare yourselves to each other. Compare yourself to Colette, or Henry James, or Edith Wharton.”

From Mary Gordon's essay on Elizabeth Hardwick & Janice Thaddeus:
“This is how I think of them: the tiger and the pelican: Lizzie the tiger, brilliant, careless, destructive, and exciting, crashing through the underbrush heedless of the damage in her wake. And Jan the pelican. In medieval iconography and legend, the pelican plucks her own breast and feeds her young with her own life’s blood. My gratitude to them both is complex and contradictory…”

From Martha Southgate's essay on Harriet the Spy:
“When I first read Louise Fitzhugh’s novel [Harriet the Spy], I had no interest in being a writer. I wanted to be a psychologist – or failing that, Jermaine Jackson’s wife. But now I know that there are only a few books that have influenced me as much as this one did, that have, in a sense, mentored me into being the writer I am…. My mentors have been the books I’ve obsessed over and had crushes on.”

Lily Tuck's essay on Gordon Lish:
“’Tuck, Tuck’ – for some reason, Gordon [Lish] calls us all by our last names, he also is in the habit of repeating it – “don’t strain for a trope. Keep the object term as close to the subject term as you can manage without producing a tautology. Listen to this,’ he says, giving an example from a story he likes, ‘Quiet as a church.’
“I, too, am quiet.”

Elizabeth Benedict is the editor and moderator. It will not be a quiet night. Please join us.


We're on our way to Brooklyn & Greenlight Bookstore

The next stop on the 3M book tour is the just-opened and much celebrated new idie, Greenlight Bookstore, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where we'll put on a panel on Monday, Nov. 23, with Alexander Chee (on Annie Dillard), Mary Gordon (on Elizabeth Hardiwck and Janice Thaddeus), Martha Southgate (on HARRIET THE SPY), Lily Tuck (on Gordon Lish), moderated by EB. It's at 7.30. Please join us. Bookstore phone is 718 246-0200.

I'll be blogging about our extravaganza at the Brattle Theatre on Dec. 1, for Cynthia Newberry Martin's lovely literary blog, Catching Days, for a column she runs every month called "How We Spend Our Days." I'm honored she invited me to write about the Cambridge event, and look forward to pulling my thoughts and impressions together.

Thanks for checking in.


The Book Tour is Underway

Contributors John Casey and Maud Casey joined me on November 9, in Washington DC, for the kick-off panel, at the DC Public Library in Chevy Chase, DC. They're the only father-daughter set in the book, and it was fascinating to see how they interact as players in the family business.

Friday November 13, is a very different sort of panel at the Brattle Theatre, Cambridge, MA, at 6pm. I'll be talking to contributors Jay Cantor (on Bernard Malamud), Chris Castellani (on Bread Loaf), Julia Glass (on her editor at Pantheon), Margot Livesey (on her adopted father), and Jim Shepard (on John Hawkes). Stay tuned for more.

If you'll be in Brooklyn on Monday, Nov. 23, please join us at the brand new Greenlight Bookstore- Mary Gordon, Lily Tuck, Martha Southgate, Alex Chee, and me.

If you'll be on the Upper East Side - 86th and Lex - on Dec. 7, please come to Barnes and Noble to hear hear Mary Gordon (on Elizabeth Hardwick), Sigrid Nunez (on Susan Sontag), Lily Tuck (on Gordon Lish), and me, asking questions.


A Rave in the Christian Science Monitor

"Mesmerizing book of essays by famous pens ... beautifully captures the experience of being a literary aspirant..." And an on-line interview with the editor. Read and listen here