Wednesday, October 31, 2012

TCR Story of the Month (Classic) for October: Paul's Case by Willa Cather

Willa Cather, 1905 (courtesy of U. of Nebraska)
The Committee Room departs from its presentation of the best in contemporary fiction to offer a classic story, Willa Cather's "Paul's Case," as TCR Story of the Month for October.

"Paul's Case" has been called "a small masterpiece of sustained tone" and a story "justly admired for its narrative skill and its psychological portraiture."

The story of an opera and theater loving Pittsburgh youth who makes a desperate escape from the reality of his ordinary lower middle class life, "Paul's Case" was the seventh and last story in Cather's first collection of stories, The Troll Garden, published in 1905. All of the stories in The Troll Garden deal with art and artists. Soon after the collection's publication, "Paul's Case" reached a wider audience when it was reprinted in McClure's Magazine, a leading general interest magazine.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Writers on Time Magazine Covers

Joseph Conrad, 1923
The Committee Room looks at how literature has been treated by the mainstream American media as we take an accounting of the literary figures deemed notable enough for Time to put them on its cover.

Time was founded by two young Yale graduates -- bon vivant Briton Hadden and sober-minded Henry Luce -- with the aim of keeping the "busy man" well informed. Its first issue appeared on March 3, 1923. On the cover was elderly former Speaker of the House Joseph Cannon, an Illinois Republican who was retiring from his Congressional seat after a record breaking number of years in office.

Time's first author cover came early on. The cover of its sixth issue, published on April 7, 1923, offered a sketch portrait of Joseph Conrad. The accompanying article -- a few paragraphs about Conrad making his first visit to the United States -- was without a byline since all Time articles were supposed to be a collaborative effort of the staff, a practice the magazine continued for many decades.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

TCR Spotlight on Theater: Wendy Wasserstein

The Committee Room recently spoke with Julie Salamon whose widely praised biography of the late playwright Wendy Wasserstein -- Wendy and the Lost Boys: The Uncommon Life of Wendy Wasserstein -- was just released in paperback. Salamon is a journalist who has worked for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times. Her 1992 book The Devil's Candy, an examination of the making of the screen version of Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, is a classic look at behind the scenes Hollywood.

Salamon came to the Wasserstein biography at the suggestion of her editor at Penguin who had been approached by a close friend of Wasserstein, Andre Bishop, artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater. Bishop serves as literary executor for Wasserstein's work including her best known play The Heidi Chronicles which won both the Tony Award for best play and the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1989. Bishop realized that a biography of Wasserstein, who died in 2006, was inevitable and wanted the project done properly.