JUST THE THING: The Selected Letters of James Schuyler

Stuart David, Editor . Turtle Point $21.95 (152p) ISBN 978-1-885586-71-1

The most accessible of the New York School of poets proves to be a delightful letter writer, as this breezy stream of correspondence over 40 years attests. Highlights are his regular bulletins to fellow poets John Ashbery, Barbara Guest and Kenneth Koch (Frank O'Hara and W.H. Auden are sadly missing). Schuyler's letters are primarily a means of keeping in touch, garnished with gossip, film and theater recommendations and other amusements. He does, of course, find time to comment archly on contemporary poetry, give solid editorial criticism, preview his own verse (including the unpublished "A Blue Shadow Painting") and collaborate with Ashbery on their satiric novel, A Nest of Ninnies . In addition to the city's poetry scene, Schuyler moved in the Manhattan art world, American expatriate cliques in Italy and gay New York. Keeping up with Schuyler's wide interests, gregariousness and penchant for name dropping, editor Corbett supplies hundreds of footnotes. There are, however, gaps in the record, starting at the time of Schuyler's nervous breakdown in 1961 and recurring over his final two decades as he struggled with mental illness. But Schuyler, unlike a friend who wanted all his letters burned, wrote to amuse his correspondents, not confess to posterity; he never worried, like that friend, about leaving behind what he called "a whited sepulcher" for himself. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/27/2004
Release date: 01/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-9533275-2-2
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