Mary McCarthy’s Unsparing Honesty

Maggie Doherty at The Nation:

McCarthy’s fiction, collected by the Library of America in two new volumes, shows how her preoccupation with factuality shaped her art. The collection includes all seven of her novels—the first published in 1942, the last in 1979—as well as collected and uncollected stories and an essay on “the novels that got away.” Through it all, we see McCarthy’s fixation on the surface details that distinguish class and character: a middle-aged man from the Midwest who is given to wearing Brooks Brothers suits; a Yale man working at a leftist magazine who sports a “well-cut brown suit that needed pressing”; bohemian couples living on Cape Cod who drink too much and don’t bother keeping house. We learn that it was a status symbol in 1930s New York for a Vassar graduate to serve coffee with real cream.

more here.