Sunday, February 16th – 2pm
Carol Sklenicka & Peter Linenthal present
Sklenicka’s biography of the writer
In conversation with Alice Adams’ son, the San Francisco artist Peter Linenthal — and indulging in a slide show that captures Adams through the years — Adams’ biographer, Carol Sklenicka, brings the towering fiction writer back to life.
Alice Adams, born in Virginia in 1926, raised in North Carolina, educated at Radcliffe and a long-time San Franciscan until her death in 1999, is overdue for a rediscovery, reassessment and resurgence; and that she’s getting, with this wonderfully detailed and insightful biography (Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer, Scribner, 2019) and current reissues by Vintage of a major short story collection (The Stories of Alice Adams, Knopf, 2002) and her novel Superior Women (Knopf, 1984).
Although Adams wrote fiction seriously and prolifically from a young age, her first novel, Careless Love, was published in 1966 when she was 40 years old. Soon, however, her short stories and novels were appearing in quick succession: 25 stories appeared in the New Yorker, she was anthologized in 22 O. Henry collections over the years, and Alfred A. Knopf brought out 11 of her novels.
Her work was characterized “not only by the skill and deftness of her prose, but also by her challenge to hackneyed dismissal of love’s redemptive possibilities. She presents a world where the potential for smart and independent women to have their cake and eat it, too, to enjoy professional and romantic success, stubbornly persists even if not often realized. No romanticist, Adams never flinches from describing all the vagaries and disappointments that afflict sexual and platonic relationships, but neither does she ever permit these descriptions to produce a sense of crushing pessimism.”
"It is in doubt and not in faith that the salvation of the world is to be found. Faith is a delusion and a snare: a pitfall, a prison. It intimidates the intellect. With fear of eternal damnation religion crushes intellectual activity; with hero worship it destroys individuality; with hopes for the beyond it prevents the growth of ideals for the present. It makes of us a race of intellectual cowards; it changes but little if any our daily conduct toward each other. But doubt sets us free."
-- Job Harriman, 1902
Our events are put on under the umbrella of the nonprofit Bird & Beckett Cultural Legacy Project (the "BBCLP"). That's how we fund our ambitious schedule of 300 or so concerts and literary events every year.
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