Lee Upton in Agni:
For several weeks I’ve been hunting up works by the English writer Sylvia Townsend Warner. Her long career, dedication, and daring—her uncompromising will to lead a life of her own, writing fiction that can’t simply be cornered by the term “eccentric,” crafting in her eighties some of the strangest stories ever to appear in The New Yorker—she’s one of the spine-stiffening writers. She makes a perfect quarantine companion.
I don’t think it’s uncommon for the world to cooperate while you’re working intensely on a long piece of fiction. Slivers of what you imagined may emerge right in front of you, ready to be observed. You keep seeing a character’s name. Or a stranger looks like a character you created. Or a word in the story’s title keeps showing up when you’re reading online. That happens too with the writers who emerge for us. I’m at a point where I especially need Warner’s sentences with all their power and quirky mischief. I need, as well, the imaginative company of a writer with a long career, who took chances at each bend along the way.