Book: Writing Dangerously

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Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy And Her World

Author: Carol Brightman
Publisher: Harcourt

Near the end of her life, when she was most candid, Mary McCarthy granted Carol Brightman 18 unrestricted interviews. Based on these, as well as unprecedented access to McCarthy’s letters and papers, this biography reveals the essential McCarthy.


Brightman’s massive biography of Mary McCarthy passionately and responsibly chronicles the many incarnations of “the first lady of letters.” There’s a lot to tell: McCarthy married four times, entertained many lovers, co-founded the Partisan Review, opposed World War II and penned 16 novels, several memoirs and hundreds of letters, articles, essays and reviews during her 79 years. Brightman richly details McCarthy’s ascension from a battered foster child to a celebrated member of the New York literary and intellectual elite. For McCarthy, Brightman writes, language was “an instrument of conquest … a medium for the refinement of perception.” Writing Dangerously won a 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award.

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