Imagine yourself in a large, gaily festoooned trolley car, yellow on the outside, bulging on the inside with people you figured you would never get to know in your lifetime - people like Louis Armstrong, Robert Penn Warren, Frank Sinatra, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jiggs and Maggie, Diane Sawyer, Paul McCartney, Saul Bellow, Samuel Beckett. Well, here you are, with Mr. Kennedy as your concerned host, taking you down the aisle of the trolley car and introducing you, one at a time, to those figures he has met or wirtten about over the past forty years: a master of fiction showing you how non-fiction can become a high art form, indeed.
With the author of Ironweed and Very Old Bones, and his other fable Albany sagas, you are in very good hands. This rich collection contains Kennedy's insightful book reviews over the last thirty years on such authors as Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Bernard Malamud, John O'Hara, Mario Vargas Llosa, Carolos Fuentes; literary essays on other authors and on his own writing; profiles of jazz musicians, movie stars, stories on the filming of Ironweed and The Cotton Club; and a moving soliloquy on the home that resonates with much force and timeliness today. Here also is Kenndy's illuminating unpublished interview with Robert Penn Warren, and his extended interview in Barcelona with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who also provided Kennedy with two original drawings that appear in this volume (along with some choice Kennedy family photos). This sumptuous gathering of William Kennedy's work reflects his credo about nonfiction: "I love it extremely well, I have worked in it all my writing life, and have enormous respect for its pitfalls and exotic reaches." You will preceive Kennedy's love of it all when you climb aboard the yellow trolley car.