Reviews of "Words in Air"
"Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell" has been named one of the Top Ten Books of 2008 by The Washington Post. In London's The Guardian, no less a literary lion that poet Seamus Heaney named Travisano's book to his Best of the Year list, and The Spectator followed suit.
On Sunday, December 14, Travisano and his book were featured in a 12-minute segment on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered: Weekend Edition." Actors read the words of Bishop and Lowell, and Travisano added context and commentary during the especially long radio segment, which can be heard here.
“Words in Air may be the only book of its precise kind ever published: the lifelong correspondence between two artists of equal genius.”
Dan Chaisson, The New Yorker
“An exhilarating document on the art of friendship, crafted with exceptional subtlety by a pair of masters….the editors have re-created a lifelong conversation that is intensely moving and readable. The book is good for dipping into, but once the reader has taken the dip, it's hard to stop reading.”
Jamie James, Los Angeles Times
"The pleasures of this remarkable correspondence lie in the untiring way these poets entertained each other with the comic inadequacies of the world . . .This long, leisurely correspondence seems now of another world, a fading reminder of the golden age of letter writing. These star-crossed lovers found the muse in each other."
William Logan, The New York Times Book Review
“This [is a] wonderful correspondence -- a book to linger and dawdle over for weeks. Both were absolutely superb letter writers, mutually admiring, each clearly striving to out-entertain the other. Yet even their literary gossip serves the greater purpose of inclusion, support and intimacy…. Oh, these letters are just so good!….I just can't praise Words in Air enough. As Lowell and Bishop's friend Randall Jarrell used to say: Anybody who cares about poetry will want to read it.”
Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Thomas Travisano, one of Bishop's most incisive commentators, has now joined with Saskia Hamilton to issue in a single book the moving thirty-year correspondence between Bishop and Lowell, revealing how this long literary and personal friendship developed and evolved, underwent painful strains, and always recovered…. One could see these letters as a set of self-portraits, set pieces at oblique angles, always with a relish in hyperbole, adjectives, metaphors, similes that illustrate the self.”
Helen Vendler,The New York Review of Books
“There's such life in these letters that the reader can't help but feel included in an intimate bond between two lively, vulnerable, and complex souls. Because their exchange stretches across decades, we watch these fast friends struggle, deepen, and change, and help to shape each other's work.”
Mark Doty, O, The Oprah Magazine
“When a collection of letters works as well as this one, it’s like a novel about two people in which the author is God and the ‘narrative line is life itself.’”
“Letters don’t get more belles than Robert Lowell’s and Elizabeth Bishop’s.”
Sam Leith, “Books of the Year,” The Spectator
More Reviews of "Words in Air":