The second session of our forthcoming seminar, “Writers on Writers,” has gained two extraordinary talents, whose work offers insight into the complexities of artistic creation.
Blake Bailey is the author of definitive biographies of John Cheever and Richard Yates, two greatly troubled writers who produced some of the 20th century’s most enduring fiction. His Cheever: A Life (2009) won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Parkman Prize, while being nominated for a Pulitzer. His forthcoming book, Farther and Wilder, explores the life of Charles Jackson, whose own battles with alcohol served as the model for his 1944 breakthrough novel, The Lost Weekend. Bailey has said that his investigations of such dissolute characters are driven by a compulsion to uncover the secrets of “writing that makes us see the world afresh—the kind of writing that is better than actual living.”
Kate Moses is author of the internationally acclaimed novel Wintering, a reimagining of the last days of poet Sylvia Plath, including the momentous weeks in late 1962 when she assembled the manuscript of Ariel, the feverish outpouring of artistic bravado which Plath rightly predicted would “make my name.” Published in 15 languages and recipient of numerous commendations, including the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, Moses’ Wintering was praised as “a brilliant, fervent book” that returns humanity to the iconic Plath through its unprecedented rendering of “the poet newly envisioned—fixated on living, not on dying.”
With the addition of Bailey and Moses, “Writers on Writers” gains the context of an important group of iconic writers, in whose life and work we witness the struggles, pressures, and newfound freedoms of the 20th century.