Many of the illustrious contributors to The New York Review of Books have had deep and abiding relationships—both personal and intellectual —with other poets, writers, artists, composers, and scientists of equal stature. Each volume of The Company They Kept is a collection of twenty-seven accounts of these varied friendships.
The Company They Kept, Volume I
Edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
Among the essays in Volume I: Prudence Crowther’s memoir of her romance, at age thirty, with the seventy-four-year-old S. J. Perelman; Darryl Pinckney on his unsettling stint as Djuna Barnes’s handyman; Larry McMurtry recounts how his former classmate Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters would show up years later on his doorstep, unannounced, and throw his family and neighborhood into chaos; and Robert Oppenheimer tries to dispel the clouds of myth surrounding Albert Einstein.
The Company They Kept, Volume II
Edited by Robert B. Silvers
Among the essays in Volume II: Isaiah Berlin’s moving account of his meeting Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova; Hector Bianciotti on the death of Borges; Arthur Gold and Robert Fizdale on riding the subway with George Balanchine; and twelve-year-old aspiring cartoonist John Updike’s memoir of writing Saul Steinberg to ask for a cartoon (Steinberg sent one, and another, nearly fifty years later, when Updike turned sixty).