In this tasty and well-written collection of autobiographical essays, Wendy Lesser lifts up the freedom and fulfillment she has found as editor of The Threepenny Review, which covers poetry, dance, opera, theater, and literature. Although for many years she did not receive a salary for this labor of love, Lesser shows how it has given her an outlet for her enthusiasms.
The author pays tribute to the creative choreography of dancer Mark Morris and to the idiosyncratic poetry of Thom Gunn, a MacArthur Fellowship winner. She tells what it was like to serve on the selection panel for the National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowships. And she gives the reasons why academia holds no interest for her.
Lesser's love of independence shines through these essays, especially ones on her years at Harvard and her feelings about New York City as a long-time Californian. Her wit and intellect are evident in a piece on why the novels of Charles Dickens appeal to her: "He wounds you and then he soothes you, but he leaves you with a residue of what it felt like to be wounded, a tangy bitterness that cleanses the sweetness of the happy ending."