This season’s literary nonfiction looks at what it means to devote your life to the written word.
The state of reading and writing in today’s digitally driven world has been preoccupying authors of late. Melissa Pritchard, for instance, who last year published the novel Palmerino, explores the question “Why write?” in A Solemn Pleasure, a collection of essays that range in subject from the war in Afghanistan to Walt Whitman. Another novelist, Tim Parks, asks similar questions in Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books; it seems appropriate that his essays within their lives as blog posts for the New York Review of Books. Meanwhile, veteran New Yorker copy editor Mary Norris offers, in Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, a lively guide to dealing with common linguistic pitfalls.
Though writing sometimes requires solitude, camaraderie has a part to play, too. For proof, see The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings; J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, from Philip and Carol Zaleski, a portrait of a talent-incubating Oxford literary clique. Elsewhere, two books use letters to illustrate personal and professional bonds between writers. Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan, documents a 13-year epistolary friendship. I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997, edited by Bill Morgan, captures the Howl author in conversation with his publisher and fellow poet, Ferlinghetti.
A pair of biographies show how two canonical American authors began their writing lives. Zachary Leader’s The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964 tracks the novelist from birth up to the publication of Herzog. Taking on a very different writer—yet one also archetypally American in his capacity for reinvention—biographer Robert Crawford, in Young Eliot: A Biography, follows T.S. Eliot from his childhood in St. Louis to The Waste Land.
Speaking of canons, a critic who has devoted much of his career to them, Harold Bloom, returns with The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. Meanwhile, James Wood, in The Nearest Thing to Life, offers the incisive literary analysis he’s famous for, but also personal details revealing that, like all of us, he’s just a reader, in the midst of a lifelong relationship with books.
Pw’s Top 10: Literary Biographies, Essays & Criticism
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen. Mary Norris. Norton, Apr.
The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime. Harold Bloom. Random/Spiegel & Grau, May 12
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings; J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. Philip and Carol Zaleski. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 2
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997. Edited by Bill Morgan. City Lights, May 12
The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964. Zachary Leader. Knopf, May 5
Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald. Edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan. Arcade, July 7
The Nearest Thing to Life. James Wood. Brandeis Univ., June 2
A Solemn Pleasure. Melissa Pritchard. Bellevue Literary, May 12
Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books. Tim Parks. New York Review Books, May 12
Young Eliot: A Biography. Robert Crawford. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Mar. 31
Literary Biographies, Essays & Criticism Listings
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Bookmarked: Reading My Way from Hollywood to Brooklyn by Wendy Fairey (Mar. 3, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-1-62872-537-7). Fairey’s mother, Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham, was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last love. When Fairey was a child, Fitzgerald would bring her books by classic authors, from Charles Dickens to Virginia Woolf, sparking a lifelong literary journey that she traces in this memoir.
Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, edited by Suzanne Marrs and Tom Nolan (July 7, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-62872-527-8). In 1970, Ross Macdonald wrote a letter to Eudora Welty, beginning a 13-year correspondence. Macdonald and Welty’s biographers offer a collection of their witty, wry, tender, and, at times, profoundly romantic letters.
The Milli Vanilli Condition: Essays on Culture in the New Millennium by Eduardo Espina, trans. from the Spanish by Travis Sorenson (Mar. 31, paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-55885-811-4). Uruguayan-born poet Espina ponders the paradoxes of modern life in a serious-minded but entertaining collection of essays on a wide variety of subjects, including serial killers, nostalgia, and even the Olympics.
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A Solemn Pleasure by Melissa Pritchard (May 12, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-934137-96-3). Novelist (Palmerino) and short story writer Pritchard shares, in these 15 essays, a passion for writing and storytelling that educates, honors, and inspires. The inaugural title in Bellevue’s the Art of the Essay series.
Black Dog & Leventhal
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Mark Twain’s Notebooks: Journals, Letters, Observations, Wit, Wisdom, and Doodles, edited by Carlo De Vito (May 5, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-57912-997-2). This original and insightful collection combines Twain’s journal writings with his rarely seen sketches and doodles to create a fascinating, and often hilarious, visual testimonial to the father of American literature.
Nabokov in America: On the Road to Lolita by Robert Roper (June 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8027-4363-3). Worldly, refined, cultivated: the Russian-born author of Lolita might seem as European as they come. Nabokov, however, regarded his time in the U.S. as the richest of his life, as shown in this revelatory biography from Roper (Now the Drum of War).
The Nearest Thing to Life by James Wood (June 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-61168-741-5). A master class from the New Yorker’s Wood, often regarded as our finest living critic, on the connections between fiction and life. Along with individual works like Chekhov’s “The Kiss” and Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower, Wood discusses his personal experiences as a reader.
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–1997, edited by Bill Morgan (May 12, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-686-7). A collection of the correspondence between the author of Howl and his publisher and fellow poet, and City Lights Books cofounder, provides an evocative portrait of enduring friendship.
Virginia Woolf: A Portrait by Viviane Forrester, trans. from the French by Jody Gladding (May 19, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-231-15356-0). Winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt award for biography, this remarkable portrait from Forrester draws on recently unearthed documents, key primary sources, and interviews with Woolf’s relatives and acquaintances to shed new light on her life and work.
Unbuttoning America: A Biography of ‘Peyton Place’ by Ardis Cameron (May 15, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8014-5364-9). In this lively account of the writing, publication, and legacy of the 1956 bestselling novel, Cameron explains how the story of a patricide in a small New England village became a cultural phenomenon.
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Some Sort of Genius: A Life of Wyndham Lewis by Paul O’Keeffe (June 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-61902-530-1). Combining years of research with dry wit and creative storytelling, this portrait of the painter and novelist, who took a dramatically different path from contemporaries like James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, introduces one of 20th-century modernism’s most compelling and misunderstood figures.
Love and Other Ways of Dying: Essays by Michael Paterniti (Mar. 3, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-385-33702-1). The bestselling author of The Telling Room presents a book of luminous essays, collected for the first time, that range in subject from the culinary impossibilities of celebrated Spanish chef Ferran Adrià to the devastating legacy of the Khmer Rouge.
Lunch with a Bigot: The Writer in the World by Amitava Kumar (May 15, paper, $23.95, ISBN 978-0-8223-5930-2). Kumar (A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb) mixes memoir, reportage, and criticism in 26 essays about, variously, the craft of writing, Bollywood, and, in the title entry, an ultra-right Hindu organization that put him on a hit list.
The Life of Images: Selected Prose by Charles Simic (April 7, hardcover, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-236471-5). In addition to being one of America’s most famous poets, Simic is a talented essayist, as shown in this selection culled from five earlier collections and published over the past 25 years; published in conjunction with a new book of poetry, The Lunatic.
On Writing by Charles Bukowski (July 28, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-239600-6). Bukowski’s stories, poems, and novels have left an enduring mark on our culture. In this collection of correspondence—letters to publishers, editors, friends, and fellow writers—the writer shared his insights on the art of creation. 35,000-copy announced first printing.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Chasing Lost Time: The Life of C.K. Scott Moncrieff: Soldier, Spy, and Translator by Jean Findlay (Mar. 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-11927-0). Findlay, Moncrieff’s great-great-niece, writes the first biography of the famed Proust translator, revealing what PW’s review called “his exciting, even improbable life” as a WWI hero and British spy.
The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings; J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams by Philip and Carol Zaleski (June 2, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-374-15409-7). A stirring group biography of the Inklings, the Oxford writing club that included Tolkien and Lewis, as well as Romantic writer Williams and esoteric philosopher Barfield.
Young Eliot: A Biography by Robert Crawford (Mar. 31, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-374-27944-8). On the 50th anniversary of T.S. Eliot’s death, Crawford presents the first volume of a groundbreaking new biography, tracing the poet from his St. Louis childhood to the publication of his revolutionary poem “The Waste Land.”
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Tartan Noir by Len Wanner (July 1, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-910449-08-0). Celebrated for his incisive interviews, acclaimed crime fiction critic Wanner delivers a fascinating, scholarly, yet highly accessible, study of Scotland’s Tartan Noir movement, profiling such bestselling writers as Stuart McBride, Ian Rankin, and Louise Welsh. A fascinating companion for crime lovers and students of literature alike.
Letter to a Future Lover: Marginalia, Errata, Secrets, Inscriptions, and Other Ephemera Found in Libraries by Ander Monson (Feb. 3, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-55597-706-1). Inspired by ephemera found in library books, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Monson offers what PW called a “highly quirky” essay collection that touches on the nature of reading, libraries, and the self.
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso (Mar. 3, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-1-55597-703-0). For 25 years, Manguso meticulously kept a diary, attempting to stop or capture time. Then she had a baby, and everything changed. A brilliant practitioner of the new essay presents a dazzling philosophical investigation of the challenge of living in the present.
The Other Serious: Essays for the New American Generation by Christy Wampole (July 7, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-232035-3). In an original collection of cultural criticism, both whimsical and personal, a Gen-X Princeton professor and New York Times contributor suggests how to live a considered, joyful existence in our era of fiber optics and hipster irony. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
The Ocean, the Bird, and the Scholar: Essays on Poets and Poetry by Helen Vendler (Apr. 20, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-674-73656-6) gathers two decades’ worth of essays, reviews, and occasional prose—including the 2004 Jefferson Lecture—from a leading commentator on poetry; this collection serves as an eloquent plea for the form’s continued centrality to culture.
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The P.G. Wodehouse Miscellany by N.T.P. Murphy (May 1, hardcover, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-7509-5964-3). Exploring the life and works of the famed humorist, Murphy shows that Wodehouse’s wonderful creations were often based on real places and people, and demonstrates why his admirers included Bertrand Russell, Bertolt Brecht, George Orwell, and Rudyard Kipling.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
The Great Detective: The Amazing Rise and Immortal Life of Sherlock Holmes by Zach Dundas (June 2, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-0-544-21404-0). Addressed to both longtime Conan Doyle fans and newcomers, this is a lively journey through the birth, life, and afterlives of popular culture’s favorite sleuth. 25,000-copy announced first printing.
Follies of God: Tennessee Williams and the Women of the Fog by James Grissom (Mar. 3, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-307-26569-2). At age 20, Grissom’s letter to Tennessee Williams unexpectedly began a friendship. At Williams’s request, Grissom undertook a journey to gauge Williams’s effect on the men and, mostly, women who mattered most to him: Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, and others.
I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son by Kent Russell (Mar. 10, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-385-35230-7). Russell’s debut is an essay collection that interrogates a particular paradigm of American masculinity, capturing with discomforting intimacy and precision the landscape of the misfit.
James Merrill: Life and Art by Langdon Hammer (Apr. 14, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-375-41333-9). In the first biography of one of the most important poets of the later 20th century, the Yale English Department chair tells the story of Merrill (1926–1995) struggling to escape his powerful parents’ legacy, find his sexual identity, and test the redemptive potential of his art.
The Life of Saul Bellow: To Fame and Fortune, 1915–1964 by Zachary Leader (May 5, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-0-307-26883-9). Marking the centenary of Bellow’s birth and 10th anniversary of his death, the first volume of this biography from literary historian Leader traces Bellow from birth up to the publication of Herzog and draws on extensive interviews and unprecedented access to the novelist’s papers.
Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World by Jane Hirshfield (Mar. 17, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-385-35105-8). “Poetry,” Hirshfield has said, “is language that foments revolutions of being.” In 10 eloquent essays, she unfolds how this is done. Published in conjunction with a new book of poems from Hirshfield, The Beauty.
My Journey with Maya by Tavis Smiley, with David Ritz (Apr. 7, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0-316-34175-2). Smiley recounts the story of his friendship with Maya Angelou, which began in 1986, when he was 21 and she was 58. He depicts Angelou as having been like a mother to him: generous, challenging, and inspirational. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
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The World Is on Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse by Joni Tevis (May 12, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-347-8). Grappling with a fear sparked by the end-times sermons of her Southern youth, Tevis seeks out all-American symbols of apocalypse, from Buddy Holly’s last days to atomic testing, in this heart-wrenching essay collection.
New York Review Books
The Prince of Minor Writers: The Selected Essays of Max Beerbohm, edited by Phillip Lopate (June 9, paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-59017-828-7). A collection of pieces by Beerbohm, called by Virginia Woolf “the prince” of essayists, brings to the fore this largely forgotten writer’s unequaled mastery of parody, whim, and irony.
Where I’m Reading From: The Changing World of Books by Tim Parks (May 12, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-59017-884-3). Geared toward students and lovers of literature alike, this collection of 37 concise and exacting essays from the internationally acclaimed novelist, translator, and critic provides a timely examination of what reading and books once meant and, more importantly, mean today.
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris (Apr., hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24018-4). Having spent more than three decades in the New Yorker’s famously exacting copy department, Norris brings her vast experience and good cheer to a boisterous book about language, which, according to PW’s review, will help readers “think more about how and what they write.”
Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties by Kevin M. Schultz (June 1, hardcover, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-393-08871-7). Schultz, a university of Illinois history professor, unfolds a lively chronicle of the 1960s through the contentious yet surprisingly close friendship of Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley Jr., who argued publicly about every major issue of the decade.
Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born; Ian Fleming’s Jamaica by Matthew Parker (Mar. 11, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-60598-686-9). Ian Fleming wrote all of the James Bond novels and stories in Goldeneye, the house he built in Jamaica. Parker examines the island’s influence on the creation of the nonpareil hero and its significant part in the life of Bond’s creator.
Why Not Say What Happened? A Sentimental Education by Morris Dickstein (Feb. 9, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0-87140-431-2). A renowned cultural critic tells his own story. Dickstein traces a path that took him from a traditional, close-knit Jewish family to a wider world of literature and ideas, not to mention a ringside seat to the tumult of the ’60s.
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Kids, edited by Meghan Daum (Mar. 31, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-250-05293-3). Essayist Daum (The Unspeakable) assembles a collection, which PW called “absorbing,” featuring 16 literary luminaries, including Lionel Shriver, Elliott Holt, and Geoff Dyer, on the contentious subject of people who are childless by choice.
The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V, 1963–1968, edited by Edward Mendelson (May 31, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-691-15171-7). The fifth volume of W.H. Auden’s complete prose, containing his most personally revealing essays, addresses his family life, his sexuality, and the development of his moral and religious beliefs.
The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI, 1969–1973, edited by Edward Mendelson (May 31, hardcover, $65, ISBN 978-0-691-16458-8). This sixth and final volume of W.H. Auden’s prose shows his mind in full maturity and contains the full text of what Auden regarded as his only book of autobiography, A Certain World.
Note Book by Jeff Nunokawa (Apr. 26, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-691-16649-0). Every day since 2007, Princeton English professor Nunokawa has posted a brief essay in the Notes section of his Facebook page. Here, he offers 250 of his most memorable essays. The result is a new kind of literary work for the social media era.
On Elizabeth Bishop by Colm Tóibín (Mar. 22, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-691-15411-4) offers a deeply personal introduction to the work and life of one of Tóibín’s most important influences—the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Tóibín creates a vivid picture of Bishop while revealing how her work has shaped his sensibility as a novelist.
Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker by Thomas Kunkel (Apr. 28, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-375-50890-5). A biography from Kunkel (Genius in Disguise) of the New Yorker writer (1908–1996) whose long-form profiles of everyday people and places in the city he loved—high-rise construction workers, Staten Island oystermen, Bowery bums—pioneered a new kind of reportage.
My Generation: Collected Nonfiction by William Styron, edited by James L.W. West III (June 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-8129-9705-7). A vital, illuminating collection of Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winner Styron’s elegant, passionately engaged nonfiction includes significant previously uncollected material. This is the definitive gathering of the fruits of this writer’s five decades of public life.
Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Her Daughter Mary Shelley by Charlotte Gordon (Apr. 28, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-4000-6842-5). Gordon (Mistress Bradstreet) offers the first book devoted to comparing the fascinating, eerily similar lives of Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women, and her daughter, Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein.
Random/Spiegel & Grau
The Daemon Knows: Literary Greatness and the American Sublime by Harold Bloom (May 12, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-8129-9782-8). The renowned literary critic on the 12 writers upon whom he believes the American canon is built: Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Mark Twain, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, William Faulkner, and Hart Crane.
Discontent and Its Civilizations: Dispatches from Lahore, New York, and London by Mohsin Hamid (Feb. 24, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-1-59463-365-2) collects previously published essays from the novelist (How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia) that counterpoise the personal and the political with the same passion and imagination for which Hamid’s fiction is known.
Santa Fe Writer’s Project
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My Chinese-America by Allen Gee (Apr. 1, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-939650-30-6). Eloquent essays about Asian-American life make up a collection that looks at modern America’s insensitivities, stereotypes, and expectations. Gee examines topics ranging from Jeremy Lin and immigration to profiling and Asian silences, in the process casting light on underexplored corners of American culture.
(dist. by MIT)
I’m Very into You: Correspondence, 1995–1996, edited by Matias Viegener (Mar. 13, paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-1-58435-164-1). After Kathy Acker met McKenzie Wark on a trip to Australia in 1995, they had a brief fling and immediately began a heated two-week exchange of emails. This collection of their correspondence shimmers with insight, gossip, sex, and cultural commentary.
Simon & Schuster
B & Me: A True Story of Literary Arousal by J.C. Hallman (Mar. 10, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1-4516-8200-7). In this funny, frisky book, Hallman (The Devil Is a Gentleman) tells his story of discovering and reading Nicholson Baker’s work, in a tip of the hat to Baker’s own classic U and I, about John Updike.
The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays (May 12, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-1-4391-1823-8). The most valuable book in the world is the First Folio, which saved William Shakespeare and half his plays from oblivion. Mays tells the amazing story of this work and the American Gilded Age industrialist who collected it.
Univ. of Pittsburgh
The State of the Art: A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988–2014 by David Lehman (Mar. 31, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-4439-3) collects all 29 forewords Lehman has written for the acclaimed Best American Poetry annual since the series started in 1988, conveying a sense of American poetry over the past quarter century.
Univ. of Texas
It Starts with Trouble: William Goyen and the Life of Writing by Clark Davis (May 15, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-292-76730-0). Celebrating a “writer’s writer” whose friends and rivals included Katherine Anne Porter, Stephen Spender, and Truman Capote, this biography offers the first complete account of novelist
Goyen’s life and writings, which included The House of Breath and Arcadio.
Why I Don’t Write Children’s Literature by Gary Soto (Mar. 3, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-61168-711-8). A poet and former children’s author returns with another essay collection (after A Summer Life) filled with robust, confessional, and quirkily observational prose, here to consider time and aging.
There Is Simply Too Much to Think About: Collected Nonfiction by Saul Bellow, edited by Benjamin Taylor (Mar. 31, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-670-01669-3). 2015 marks the centennial of Saul Bellow’s birth, 10th anniversary of his death, and publication of Zachary Leader’s much anticipated biography (published by Knopf, May). This collection, which includes criticism, interviews, and speeches, presents lesser-known aspects of the revered writer.
How to Be a Heroine: Or, What I’ve Learned from Reading Too Much by Samantha Ellis (Feb. 3, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-101-87209-3). Playwright Ellis takes a funny, touching look back at the literary ladies—the characters and the writers—she loved in childhood. From the Little Mermaid, through the March sisters, to Sylvia Plath, Ellis evaluates how her heroines stack up today.
Curiosity by Alberto Manguel (Mar. 17, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-300-18478-5). Manguel (The Dictionary of Imaginary Places) provides an eclectic history of human curiosity, a rich feast of ideas, and a memoir of a reading life. Manguel dedicates each chapter to writers who sparked his imagination, such as Thomas Aquinas, Dante, Lewis Carroll, and Rachel Carson.
The Letters of T.S. Eliot, Vol. 5: 1930–1931, edited by John Haffenden (Feb. 28, hardcover, $85, ISBN 978-0-300-21179-5). The fifth volume of Eliot’s collected letters finds the poet at a crossroads, having recently dedicated himself to Anglo-Catholicism and dealing with the continuing deterioration of his marriage to Vivien Eliot.
Those Who Write for Immortality: Romantic Reputations and the Dream of Lasting Fame by H.J. Jackson (Mar. 31, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-300-17479-3). Jackson (Marginalia) launches a provocative inquiry into lasting literary fame, the gifted writers who have achieved it, and the gifted writers who have not.