The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships

Robert B Silvers (ed.), Barbara Epstein (ed.)

The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships

Many of the illustrious contributors to The New York Review of Books have had deep and abiding relationships–both personal and intellectual–with other poets, writers, artists, composers, and scientists of equal stature. The Company They Kept is a collection of twenty-seven accounts of these varied friendships–most of them undeniably fraught with “idiosyncratic complexities.” From Anna Akhmatova’s dreamlike description of wandering through Paris with the impoverished Modigliani to Joseph Brodsky’s account of his first meeting with Isaiah Berlin (from which he returned to report, around the kitchen table, to Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden), these pieces are tantalising glimpses into the lives of those who have made The New York Review of Books into what Esquire magazine calls “the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language.” 3.9 out of 5 based on 4 reviews
The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Literary Studies & Criticism, Essays, Journals & Letters
Format Hardback
Pages 316
RRP £14.99
Date of Publication September 2009
ISBN 978-1590172032
Publisher New York Review of Books Collections
 

Many of the illustrious contributors to The New York Review of Books have had deep and abiding relationships–both personal and intellectual–with other poets, writers, artists, composers, and scientists of equal stature. The Company They Kept is a collection of twenty-seven accounts of these varied friendships–most of them undeniably fraught with “idiosyncratic complexities.” From Anna Akhmatova’s dreamlike description of wandering through Paris with the impoverished Modigliani to Joseph Brodsky’s account of his first meeting with Isaiah Berlin (from which he returned to report, around the kitchen table, to Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden), these pieces are tantalising glimpses into the lives of those who have made The New York Review of Books into what Esquire magazine calls “the premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language.”

Reviews

The Independent

Arifa Akbar

These 27 essays (culled from 900 issues) by Oppenheimer on Einstein ("He said if he had to live if over again, he would be a plumber"), Anna Akhmatova on Modigliani, Saul Bellow on John Cheever, present memories wrapped in tender prose, yet are unflinching in their portrayal of these talented friends, failings and all.

04/12/2009

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The New York Times

Philip Womack

[An] elegant volume… Melancholy is the abiding emotion in the collection. The sense of people departing from this world where they are needed – Bruce Chatwin, for instance, whom Michael Ignatieff remembers lying emaciated “like some grand and unrepentant monarch in exile, or like one of the fantastic and touching figures of his own fiction”. The sadness is that “half a lifetime of the work that was in him will not see the light of day”.

02/11/2009

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The Observer

Alexander Larman

Some may deplore the American bias, or the omissions, such as no essay by Kingsley Amis on Philip Larkin. Set against this is the excellence of much of the writing, often with a humorous and wry tone that belies the sadness of the lives described.

15/11/2009

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The Literary Review

Jeremy Lewis

...since the essays were first published in the New York Review of Books some of those involved mean little to readers on this side of the Atlantic… The tone is, as often as not, affectionate-cum-reverential, though the insufferably pompous and self-important S J Perelman lowers the tone. ‘I am fucking sick and tired of my endless identification with these clowns,’ he once wrote apropos the Marx Brothers, but it’s hard to imagine why else he might be remembered.

01/12/2009

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