Posted by Frances Kiernan
This year marks the hundredth birthday of both Mary McCarthy and John Cheever, two celebrated New Yorker writers. Mary McCarthy’s fiction first appeared in the magazine’s pages in 1944. Although we tend to think of Cheever as a quintessential post-war writer, he was always one step ahead of McCarthy. Born a few weeks earlier than she was, he arrived at the magazine almost a decade before she did. Later on, the author of “The Enormous Radio” and “Goodbye, My Brother” was dismissive of his own early stories, perhaps because they fit in all too well with the kind of very short fiction favored by Harold Ross back then. At its best, in the hands of a master like John O’Hara, an early New Yorker story would speed along until everything was called into question with a deft shift in tone. At its worst, it could amount to little more than a tepid memoir or entertaining anecdote.
Sometimes a début is more like a dress rehearsal, sometimes a début can seem long overdue. Mary McCarthy arrived at The New Yorker as a fully formed writer known for her immaculate prose, her wit, her glamour, her sexual adventures, and her vexed marriage to the eminent critic Edmund Wilson, as well as for the impossibly high standards of her Partisan Review theatre criticism and the shocking candor of her fiction. Word had it that she never made anything up.
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/06/mary-mccarthy-edmund-wilson-and-the-short-story-that-ruined-a-marriage.html#ixzz1yVYcONGT