I was trying to take a picture of the cyclamens on our front porch, but Olga insisted on being in it! (And on not standing still.)
Yesterday was my first day back at work after our holiday break. It's nice to have the old schedule and routines back. There's comfort in it. I spent most of the day organizing a mountain of returned books, reshelving, restocking the magazine racks, that kind of thing. And helping a bunch of kids find new books, of course.
Speaking of books, when Olga and I were in the cemetery on Sunday we passed this relatively new grave marker. I suddenly realized who this is -- it's A. Alvarez, a poet and critic who helped advance the careers of many well-known writers in the mid-'60s. (Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, Anne Sexton and Robert Lowell among them.) I used to read a lot of poetry, particularly when I was in college, and his name often appeared alongside theirs as editor or anthologist. I read his obituary in The New York Times several months ago, and now, lo and behold, he's buried where I walk my dog!
And speaking of name-dropping, I'm really enjoying Tina Brown's "Vanity Fair Diaries." I subscribed to Vanity Fair in the '90s, and although by then she was gone and Graydon Carter was editor, she'd helped define the magazine and give it the flavor it retains today. I always loved its mix of glitz and serious news -- although eventually all the celebrity stuff sort of put me off.
Anyway, just to give you a taste of what her book is like, here's a paragraph describing an April 1984 dinner party for her and her husband Harry hosted by Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, and attended by Post editor Ben Bradlee and his wife Sally Quinn, among others:
It was lovely afterward with the Bradlees just hanging out. "I drew Justice O'Connor as a dinner partner," Ben said. "That was a bucket of mirth." Harry had drawn Pamela Harriman, and Sally was all over him to penetrate the sexual mystique. "She hung on my every word," was all my clearly hopelessly captivated husband could come up with. Sally described the Republican senator she had sat with as "a flaming cavorting asshole." I kept laughing about that when we went up to our room. "Cavorting" is such a deliciously underused word.I would love to know the identity of the Republican senator. The pool of possibilities seems large.