Every few days, we will post a page from James Laughlin's autobiography: The Way It Wasn't. The pages will be posted in order. His biography is a scrapbook of writings, letters, photos, poems, book covers, reminscenses about authors, dentists, and travel. The sections are organized alphabetically. This blog aims to work its way through, in patches, A to Z.
James Laughlin -- poet, ladies' man, heir to a steel fortune, and the founder of New Directions -- was still at work on his autobiography when he died at 83. He left behind personal files crammed with memories and memorabilia: in "M" he is taking Marianne Moore to Yankee games (outings captured here in charming snapshots) to discuss "arcane mammals," and in "N" nearly plunging off a mountain, hunting butterflies with Nabokov ("Volya was a doll in a very severe upper-crust Russian way").
Buy the book!.
About the Press
New Directions began in 1936, when Ezra Pound told James Laughlin his poetry was "hopeless" and urged him to do "something useful" after he graduated from college. Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, who once had difficulty finding publishers, were early New Directions authors and have remained at the core of ND's backlist of modernist writers. New Directions now publishes about 30 books annually in hardcover and paperback.