thoughts on Arendt, McCarthy, Hardwick, and Sontag

Hardwick3Darryl Pinckney at Threepenny Review:

I’ve always been sorry that I did not recognize Hannah Arendt at the memorial service for W. H. Auden at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in October of 1973, but then I could not have, because at the time I still had not heard of her. In 1971, I’d read James Baldwin’s “Open Letter to My Sister, Angela Davis,” in the New York Review of Books. His conclusion, “For if they come for you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night,” had for me the romance of “Since there is no help, come let us kiss and part,” even though Baldwin was talking about the death chamber in California, not an Elizabethan love given up. I didn’t hold another issue of the New York Review of Books until the autumn of 1973, when I was a student in Elizabeth Hardwick’s creative writing class at Barnard College, along with Mona Simpson, Tama Janowitz, and Daphne Merkin.

I once came to class with a vodka gimlet in a Styrofoam coffee cup. Somehow Lizzie—it would be years before I called her that—needed a sip of something restorative. To accept a cup from a student, she must have been desperate. Her eyes blazed. She left the room. She did not forget the incident. Much later she confessed that she’d had the worst hangover that afternoon, having been up the previous night drinking with Barbara Epstein.

more here.