IF STRANGERS MEET by Gladys Brooks


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The second wife of Van Wyck Brooks, who was probably the most probably evaluative conscience of the American reader in the '30's and '40's, reminisces about the brief years of their marriage from 1947 to Van Wyck's death in 1963. Firmly reconstructed from Gladys Brooks' meticulous journals, this is mainly, aside from some sparse personal notations, an enormous, breathless series of sunny confrontations with just about every luminary of the time--from Helen Keller to Truman Capote (young, frightened, undoubtedly frightening): from Marianne Moore to Lewis Mumford, from Malcolm Cowley to E.E. Cummings. The Brooks traveled extensively, visited frequently, and always the atmosphere and people are revealed as charming and delightful. In fact every prospect pleases. One wishes that the author had been less apt to share her husband's charitable spirit and had the impetus to pinion a few fancy wings in the dream world of Literature's Wonderland. However as an informal glimpse these memoirs are occasionally valuable and revealing and the reader is left with a sense of loss at the passing of Van Wyck Brooks--a vigorous and devoted craftsman in the (now lamentedly arid) field of literary criticism which he felt was essentially a process of cherishing and preserving values. A widow's tribute--but for the reader not an involvement.

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 1966
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World