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In her long, prolific, and tumultuous career, Kay Boyle (1902-92) published more than thirty volumes of fiction and poetry to awards and acclamations, always mining a rich vein of autobiography and innovation. Her reputation, however, has only recently begun to reemerge from the long shadow cast over it by her struggle against McCarthyism, returning to American letters some of the most vigorous writing of this century.
In Joan Mellen's groundbreaking and provocative biography of Kay Boyle - the first ever - the full sweep of her remarkable life is revealed. As the golden girl of expatriate Paris, Kay Boyle included among her friends James Joyce, Hart Crane, Marcel Duchamp, Picabia, Brancusi, and Archibald MacLeish. A literary figure in her own right, she became one of the most important contributors to the seminal magazine transition, virtually invented what came to be known as The New Yorker story, and was awarded two O. Henry Prizes for her short fiction. Kay Boyle took lovers, bore them children, and married three times. She struggled against fascism in Austria and on behalf of the Resistance in France, and in her seventh decade went to prison for her opposition to the Vietnam War.
Kay Boyle: Author of Herself is a rare look at one of the finest writers of this American century, and at a woman who was independent, self-sufficient, and self-directed, long before these categories were acknowledged, let alone approved. Kay Boyle's was a life rich in purpose, in love, and in work.
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The prolific Mellen (Creative Writing/Film, Temple Univ.) brings a literary talent as well as cinematic eye to the family saga of Kay Boyle (1902-92), an epic life reflecting the great literary and political events of the century. Behind the 30 volumes of fiction and poetry, besides essays, reviews, letters, and the short stories that Boyle brought to perfection in the New Yorker, was a restless, passionate, ambitious, desirable woman, as intense and prolific in her writings as in her loves and political beliefs--beliefs ranging from the anti-Semitism she shared with Ezra Pound in the 30's to the radicalism she shared with Joan Baez and Eldridge Cleaver in the 60's. Drawing on massive primary sources, family interviews, and the thousands of unpublished letters Boyle sold during her lifetime to earn money, Mellen tactfully presents her subject's public life as a successful author (``our little Dostoyevsky in ski pants,'' according to Kazin); her political life as an activist during McCarthyism and then Vietnam; and her private failure as a mother and wife. Incapable of introspection, Boyle retained her glamorous facade into old age, oblivious of her flaws, of the pain she caused those who loved her, or the significance of the causes she opposed (capital punishment, the Vietnam War, feminism) or the ones she sacrificed herself for: student rights, the Black Panthers, nuclear disarmament, migrant workers, Amnesty International. Jolas, Duchamps, Beckett, Djuna Barnes, Joyce, Lawrence are all here. And the scenes are incomparable: Paris in the 20's, Europe on the eve of WW II, America in the 50's, Haight-Ashbury in the 60's, and the campuses of the 70's, where this self-taught writer ended up teaching. Precise in detail, panoramic in scope, psychologically subtle, more than a literary biography, like Boyle herself, it is social and political history, a film waiting to be produced. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Booklist:
Kay Boyle is remembered primarily for her startlingly fresh and modern short stories. Showcased most prominently in the New Yorker during the 1930s and 1940s, these gems abruptly begin "smack in the middle of things," the very spot Boyle made sure she occupied throughout her long, hectic life. Mellen, a consistently absorbing writer (no small feat in such a long book), gamely follows Boyle from her indulgent childhood into her regal old age, from her spectacular success to her descent into schlock, and all through her weathering of numerous illnesses and a vicious McCarthy-era investigation. A great beauty--tall, slender, black-haired, and blue-eyed--as well as a workaholic, Boyle, in spite of never receiving much of an education, was encouraged to be a writer by her adoring and ambitious mother. She also thrived on turmoil. As she burned her way through passionate affairs, tumultuous marriages, and seven pregnancies, Boyle never stopped writing and never let anyone else's needs interfere with her compulsion. As Mellen discusses Boyle's immense oeuvre, unusual experiences, and humanitarian outlook, she praises Boyle for her incredible literary prolificity without hesitating to describe how much Boyle's hastiness, didacticism, and need to write for money diminished her artistic prowess and integrity. Mellen is also candid about how profoundly Boyle's children suffered from their mother's shameless self-absorption. Flamboyant flaws and all, Boyle was an extraordinary and captivating woman. Donna Seaman
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Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux, 1994. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0374180989
Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1994. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0374180989
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Book Description Farrar Straus & Giroux (T), 1994. Hardcover. Condition: New. 1st. Ships with Tracking Number! INTERNATIONAL WORLDWIDE Shipping available. Buy with confidence, excellent customer service!. Seller Inventory # 0374180989n