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The Men in Vivian Gornick's Life

October 4, 2008 |  1:14 pm

In Books & Ideas on Sunday (online now), Judith Lewis reviews "The Men in My Life" by Vivian Gornick.

In her new collection of essays, "The Men in My Life," authors, all great literary men, come alive on the page like great characters, bleeding, raging and most of all trying (but almost always failing) to love. Gornick does not begrudge them this; she does not berate them like a woman scorned, nor does she dismiss them as a monolith of patriarchy. Instead, she reaches through the pages to understand how they became that way. In the process, she seems also to be trying to understand how she came to love them -- reluctantly, in some cases, but well enough to write about all of them with grace.

Gornick is not the first to suffer the ambivalence of the feminist bookworm....

The men she thinks of as "hers" include V.S. Naipaul, George Gissing, H.G. Wells, Raymond Carver, Richard Ford, Saul Bellow and Andre Dubus. Videos of a few -- Allen Ginsberg, Philip Roth and James Baldwin -- are here and after the jump.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

A 2006 interview with Philip Roth in two parts: