Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wonderful Wednesdays #1/Eudora Welty: A Biography


Wonderful Wednesday is a new meme hosted by Sam at Tiny Library. According to Sam, Wonderful Wednesdays spotlights and recommends some of our most loved books, even if we haven't read them recently. Each week will have a different theme or genre of book to focus on.

This week's theme is biographies.

I don't usually read nonfiction, but when I saw Suzanne Marrs' Eudora Welty: A Biography for PHP 45 (about one US dollar) at a secondhand bookstore I immediately snatched it up. Before I started reading the book, I hadn't read anything by Eudora Welty. So, I googled her and read her short story Why I Live at the P.O. It was a hilarious read with Southern characters that leaped off the pages.

Eudora Welty: A Biography is my first real foray into biographies, and the experience is very enjoyable. Welty is usually portrayed as a somewhat reclusive spinster by the media, but the book shows her in a different light. Suzanne Marrs was friends with Eudora Welty, and was given access to letters and works previously unseen by other Welty scholars.

I learned that she disliked Carson McCullers, the author of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter which is currently sitting in my TBR pile, and that Welty wasn't reclusive at all. In fact, she traveled all over the United States and abroad. The biography also delves further into her relationships with John Robinson and Ross Macdonald who are both writers.

Most of all, I really like Eudora Welty's letters to her friends. She has a ton of interesting ideas and advice about writing, particularly in her letters to John Robinson. There's a passage where she says that, even when writing fiction, you have to dig deep and write about the things that hurt you in order to write the truth--advice I'm definitely taking to heart.

I'm only halfway through the book, but I love it already.


What about you? Have you read any good biographies lately?

12 comments:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

I've dipped into this biography, mostly because Marrs was my professor in college. I just finished reading a book called What There Is to Say, We Have Said, also edited by Marrs, which is the correspondence between Welty and William Maxwell. It's coming out in May, I think. But if you like Welty's bio, you'd probably enjoy this one, too. I don't read a ton of biographies, but in the last year or so I've really enjoyed reading writers' letters, as I like the sense of intimacy they give.

Zibilee said...

I once joined a mail order book club and forgot to send in my cancellation card for the month, and the whole collection of Eudora Welty's books arrived at my house. It was so long ago, and I don't remember exactly what happened to the books, but now that I basically read for a living, I am kicking myself that I lost track of them!!

Trisha said...

I can't remember the last time I read a biography. I do have a few on the wish list from bloggers though...

Jenny O. said...

There's a new biography out on Vivien Leigh, and I'm really interested in reading it, but aside from that, I haven't read any biographies since Gail Sheehy's "Hillary's Choice..." I know, I know... *ducks*

Loni said...

It's nice to hear about a writer who goes out and lives in the world and doesn't just sit at home brooding.

Brenna said...

I don't read many biographies either but this one sounds really interesting.

Sam said...

Thanks for taking part :)

I think biographies are a really underrated genre. This one sounds interesting, although I have to admit that I haven't heard of her.

mel u said...

wow 45PHP=what store was it and if you ever see another one please twitter me on it-I am currently reading a biography of Elizabeth Bowen the great Anglo Irish novelists and short story writer-she and Welty were friends and Welty stayed for a while in Ireland at Bowen's manor house and wrote a story there-I have read only one of Welty's stories Why I Live at the PO and I loved it

Elizabeth Bauman said...

I haven't read any Eudora Welty yet but I definitely plan on it (if only because I love her name, something so interesting about it) and I'll have to include this biography. Sounds fascinating!

Sharon said...

I don't know anything about Welty, but have "The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty" in my TBR pile. This makes me want to get to that one!

Carey said...

Biography/Memoir is probably my favorite genre! Recently, I have become especially interested in the bios of authors such as Louisa May Alcott, Sylvia Plath, Edgar Allan Poe, and Maragaret Mitchell. This one sounds interesting although I have yet to read any Welty. Some bios can be really "dry", but the good ones read just like a novel. Keep giving the genre a chance!

mel u said...

do you mind checking the index of this book to see if it mentions her visit to the Irish home of Elizabeth Bowen? thanks

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