In its essentials, I suppose it could be said that the literary life—outside the university, anyway—is pretty much the same as it has always been: a serious writer today spends most of his waking hours alone with words, his or other people’s, and every now and then gets together with a few colleagues to talk books and to exchange gripes and gossip and ideas. If by “literary life” one means contact with other people, then the term is something of an oxymoron, for when he is busy trying to create literature—or, for that matter, trying to say something useful about it —he doesn’t have much time or inclination to socialize, and might as well reside in Greenville, South Carolina, as in Greenwich Village. Even for the writer who lives in or near New York City, which remains the hub of the American literary world—with spokes reaching out to Boston, the Bay Area, the Twin...

 
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