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January 15 , 2011

The Pleasure of Their Company

A Memoir


A literary master looks ahead to her eighties

As her eightieth birthday approaches, Doris Grumbach does not feel melancholy or saddened by the upcoming event, despite the loss of friends such as Kay Boyle and Dorothy Day—instead she takes it as an opportunity both to look backward and to grow. In this, her summer of unexpected content, Grumbach weaves the elegiac and the practical into a delightful tapestry of experience.

She looks deep into her own history, telling stories of her life in the hardscrabble New York of the 1940s, working as a copyeditor. She details her near encounter with a seventy-two-year-old Bertrand Russell, calling it the closest she has ever come to sleeping with a Nobel Laureate. Grumbach lets us into her life and introduces us to the characters that have peopled her nearly eight decades on Earth. As the fateful day of her celebration draws near, the main topic on Doris Grumbach’s mind is not herself; it’s her guests.

The Pleasure of Their Company is a meticulously planned party that any reader would be honored to attend.

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