“Walking north past Columbus Circle (once I used up my candles and went looking for higher ground) I spotted a copy of Malcolm Cowley’s 1954 survey of American writing, The Literary Situation. I’ll take Upper West Side street vendors over any airport bookstore—and I’ll take Cowley, a book editor whose career spanned most of the last century, over even the best critics of his day. Cowley had the advantage of thinking about books like a salesman, and of reading thousands of manuscripts that never saw print. Whether he compares the novelists of World War II to the Lost Generation or to Jean Stafford and Truman Capote, or to writers you’ve never heard of, he writes with discernment, dash, and an unmatched knowledge of the field.”
For more of this week’s reading, click here.