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Eric Newman and Kate Wolf speak with the novelist and critic Darryl Pinckney about his new memoir, Come Back in September: A Literary Education on West Sixty-Seventh Street, Manhattan. The book recounts Pinckney’s relationship with a legend of American letters: the singular stylist Elizabeth Hardwick. Hardwick was Pinckney’s professor in a creative writing class at Barnard in the early 1970s, and they quickly became close friends. She invited him into her home, into her writing process, and into a world of New York literary culture and gossip, which Pinckney doles out here in generous cupfuls. It was through Hardwick that Pinckney met Barbara Epstein, an editor and co-founder of the New York Review of Books, where he began his writing career. His memoir documents a critical time in both his own life and in Hardwick’s, including the dissolution of her marriage to the poet Robert Lowell, and the composition of her masterful novel, Sleepless Nights.
Also, Namwali Serpell, author of The Furrows, returns to recommend “Old Boys Old Girls” a short story by Edward P. Jones from his collection All Aunt Hagar’s Children.