Just the Thing

ebook Selected Letters of James Schuyler, 1951-1991, Revised Anniversary Edition

By James Schuyler

cover image of Just the Thing

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This fully updated edition of James Schuyler's letters to three dozen intimates, published on the 100th anniversary of the writer's birth, offers unparalleled insights into the lives, friendships, and sensibilities that sprang from the influential New York School.

James Schuyler's effervescent takes on people, nature, art, writing, and love are on joyous display in his letters to John Ashbery, Ron Padgett, Barbara Guest, Alex Katz, Joe Brainard, Kenneth Koch, and many more. They paint an indelible picture of a charmingly self-deprecating gentleman with an expansive intellect and a deliciously wicked tongue. "Jimmy wrote letters for the most civilized of reasons," a friend of his once said, "to inform and to entertain."

And that they do, in inimitable style. Peppering his aperçus with the occasional "tout de sweetie" and "pet noire," the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Morning of the Poem holds forth on everything from Dante and Delacroix to travel and gardening to the delicate workings of his own poems and those of others. While his tone ranges from the lightly graceful to the racily profane, each letter is exquisitely tuned to its recipient. Schuyler's voice changes over the years and through periods of elation and struggle, including stays with friends and in psychiatric wards. Reading these letters, one becomes intimately connected to the man and to his words, which have only grown more savory and valuable with time.

Just the Thing