Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Authors of note from the Paris Review blog

Jesmyn Ward, originally of De Lisle, Mississippi, has a new novel set on our Gulf Coast during Katrina, Salvage the Bones.

And Patricia Highsmith's biographer introduces us to a favorite writer of her subject's, Theodore Roosevelt's granddaughter, the novelist Theodora Keogh.
Keogh’s novels are mostly set in places she’d lived in intensely and knew by heart: the Upper East Side of New York, the Left Bank of Paris, the North Shore of Long Island.

Manhattan is a great beast in her New York books, prowling restively between vaguely tidal waters like a dragon getting ready to doss down for the night. She made her Paris quartier (our Paris quartier, since I live around the corner from where she wrote) come alive in visceral prose as the postwar terrain it was, throbbing with impermissible desires and criminal thoughts and centered on a street shaped, appropriately, like a goblet of wine.

A natural democrat, she enlivened her work with immigrants, foreign accents, and character actors from the underclasses. In two of her books, homosexuals are the major protagonists (The Double Door, The Other Girl). In others, beautiful women have affairs with underage boys or traduce their conventional husbands in states of magically-compelled trance (The Fascinator, The Mistress, My Name Is Rose).

She never stopped exploring the secrets of the flesh. In Meg (1950), the father of a twelve-year-old girl is magnetically drawn to his daughter’s best school friend—and that attraction is returned. A middle-aged music critic in Paris nearly abandons his new marriage for an eleven-year-old child criminal from the streets, and they kiss (Street Music). An entire Egyptian family falls in love with a chic New York model past her prime (The Mistress). Adult twins make love and suppress a murder (Gemini). A teenage heiress, kept apart from life like a princess in a tower, enters a secret door and sleeps with her father’s paid male lover (The Double Door).


  1. Ward was last year's Grisham writer here at Ole Miss, the next-to-last one that Barry Hannah had a hand in selecting (for years, he simply told the committee who it was to be, as I understand it, although more recently it's been a bit more of a committee decision).

  2. Good old Barry. A generous soul.

  3. Oh yeah NMC? You seem to smear people you don't like by lying. So, unless you approve of their selection it is corrupt? Is it always about you?