The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships


Product Details

New York Review of Books
Publish Date
September 01, 2009
5.58 X 8.26 X 0.67 inches | 0.79 pounds
BISAC Categories:

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate

About the Author

Robert Silvers (1929-2017) was the editor of The New York Review of Books.

Barbara Epstein (1928--2006) was a founding co-editor of The New York Review of Books.


"Whether fond or surprisingly frank, these essays are soothing in their intimacy, their acceptance of fallible fellow humans. 'As always, ' writes Robert Oppenheimer of Albert Einstein, 'the myth has its charms; but the truth is far more beautiful.'" -O Magazine

"A charming addition to a friend's bookshelf would be The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships." -Vogue

"An extraordinarily striking, moving and delicious collection of short essays...The writing in most of these essays is dazzling, the anecdotes and insights even more so. It is a superb collection of vignettes, and their variety throws more light on the diversity and possibilities than a treatise could." -The Financial Times

"Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein co-edited The New York Review of Books for 43 years, until Epstein died in June. Over those decades, contributors to the review have written about their personal relationships, and this volume brings together 27 memoirs of friendship. This volume should be read piece by marvelous piece: Robert Oppenheimer on Delmore Schwartz, Saul Bellow on John Cheever, Susan Sontag on Paul Goodman." -The Chicago Tribune

"A touch of sadness clings to The Company They Kept, an otherwise joyous collection of essays by some of the world's best writers, in which they recount 'unforgettable friendships' they've been blessed with. The sadness stems from the fact that this would appear to be the last book project that Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein worked on. All of the writing in the collection first appeared in The New York Review of Books, which the two edited together for 43 years, right up until Epstein's death last June. The book, issued by their journal's publishing unit, New York Review Books, is an appropriate tribute to this long collaboration, as the volume hums with the thrill of friendship, which clearly imbued their work relations with a special quality." -Jewish Exponent

"Silvers and Epstein (coeditors, The New York Review of Books) have coedited collections of essays from the New York Review before (e.g., First Anthology: 30 Years of the New York Review of Books), but this collection is new in both its subject matter and tone. the book contains 27 rare and fascinating accounts of friendships between writers, with each account published in the New York Review in the past 40 years. Silvers explains well the feel of this collection in the preface: 'It is hard to say how any of them came about. For the most part, they are not the sort of essays an editor can ask for.' Not really a biography and not quite a memoir, this collection contains accounts by Robert Oppenheimer on Albert Einstein, by Edward Dahlberg on Hart Crane, by Susan Sontag on Paul Goodman, and more. Joseph Brodsky and Robert Lowell each appear twice, both as writers and subjects. An asset to any literature collection, this is the most interesting literature most of us never get to read." -Library Journal

"When some of Stravinsky's disciples suggested that Robert Craft write the great composer's biography, Craft countered that long friendship disqualified him: 'I was too close to Stravinsky to do this.' Precisely because they value a perspective that brings us closer to a great creator than a biographer ever could, Silvers and Epstein have assembled a remarkable set of essays by friends of prominent musicians, scientists, poets, and novelists. Only the close proximity of friendship allows readers to glimpse Einstein taking rare delight in a day of sailing, Roethke playing tennis with fierce abandon, and Kesey playing enchanting melodies on the wandering bus he shared with his Merry Pranksters. seeing through the eyes of friends permits readers to glimpse titans up close, without the often-dehumanizing lenses of theory or ideology. Even the political passions of Mary McCarthy part long enough to disclose a woman too spontaneous to keep a diary, too homespun to let others grind her coffee beans. These wonderful reminiscences will renew readers' appreciation for those unpredictable joys shared between all close friends." -Booklist

"Silvers and Epstein, editors of The New York Review of Books, pull together 27 essays in this smart and eclectic collection. Published over the past four decades in the NYRB, pieces here deal with professional relationships and personal friendships among such writers as Robert Lowell and Jerome London, Susan Sontag and Paul Goodman, and Robert Oppenheimer and Albert Einstein. Saul Bellow writes of the immediate connection he made with John Cheever, whom he 'met at irregular intervals all over the US.' Derek Walcott shares his take on the work of fellow poet Robert Lowell, who 'made the body of literature his body, all styles his style, every varying voice his own.' And Larry McMurtry recalls his experiences with Ken Kesey, the original Merry Prankster, whom he first met at Stanford University in September 1960 and kept up with through the '70s, '80s and '90s." -Publishers Weekly

"This book will give hours of pleasure to those who love literature." -The Jewish Herald Voice