Ann Hulbert is a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and the author of The Interior Castle: The Art and Life of Jean Stafford. She is currently at work on a book about twentieth-century American child-rearing experts. (June 1998)

In the Bosom of the Family

The unfairness of family life has been a favorite theme through the ages, with all ages. The Bible is full of stories about the wildly contrasting fortunes of siblings, and so are fairy tales. Parental care in the many riven, envious clans of legend is not always consistent, to say …

Writer Without Borders

Alice Munro is the latest and best proof that a provincial literary imagination can be the most expansive kind of imagination there is. Fixated on lives in out-of-the-way Canadian places and dedicated to the short story rather than to what she has called “the mainstream big novel,” she finds pioneering …

New Wives’ Tales

Grace Paley was born Grace Goodside in 1922, and reborn in her fiction in 1959 as Faith Darwin, an alter ego whom she endowed with two siblings, Hope and Charles, and to whom she has returned again and again in her stories. As the improbable names suggest, she and her …

Grim Fairy Tale

To be a writer who is told, again and again, that your life is made for fiction is rarely the pure good fortune it seems. Larger-than-life lives, after all, are not so easy to live. And truths that are stranger than fiction, the sort of truths that such lives are …

Only Disconnect

Ann Beattie’s reputation as the cool portraitist of an affluent, disaffected group of baby boomers is by now so well established that barely anyone challenges it, except Ann Beattie. A decade ago Joyce Maynard asked her whether she “agreed that her writing chronicled, perhaps for the first time, a particular …