Vivian Gornick reflects on her literary influences
The Men in My Life (Boston Review Books)
by Vivian Gornick
$14.95 List Price
Vivian Gornick has always been an impassioned reader, writer, and inhabitant of her own life, holding firmly to the vastly unmodish notion that novels, memoirs, and essays are not just ironic, parsable constructs but have the power to help us locate, define, and even redeem ourselves. Gornick believes, that is, in the transcendent effect of literature, whether it be a novel by Virginia Woolf, a memoir by Edmund Gosse, or an essay by Seymour Krim—an effect made possible by dint of a book’s “clarity of thought” (an oft-repeated phrase of hers) rather than its sheer emotional power. Indeed, to her way of thinking, a writer cannot access his or her psychological insights without a sustaining lucidity, and there is no escape from the inevitability of personal suffering without the capacity to reflect on it.
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