Dinner with Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger was looking into my eyes as he talked about AI and the future of US-China relations. I had no choice: I nodded thoughtfully and kept my gaze on him, ignoring my salad. He was talking directly across the table to me for a simple reason: he couldn't see anyone else. The room was dim, and the dining table was crowded with flower arrangements. He needed an audience, and I was it. I confess: I practiced the kind of vivacious listening that women through the ages have done. [...]

December 14th, 2023|Categories: Karen's Letter|

Shanghai Book Review interview by QIU Xiaolong

This article appeared in Chinese in the Shanghai Book Review on 25 September, but I didn't see it until I woke up on the 26th, my birthday as well as T. S. Eliot's. It's wonderful to have it in Chinese, of course, because I've already heard from colleagues in China who saw it, but for those who don't read Chinese and would prefer something other than the Google Translate version, here's our original English exchange, which Qiu Xialong then translated. The Chinese version includes photographs I provided. QIU Xiaolong: It's [...]

September 26th, 2021|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

Jane’s Walk, at last

One of the Marc Jacobs shops on Bleecker Street I pulled out the articles I wrote for the WestView News after a meeting in Great Barrington to plan a Jane's Walk in "The Hill" neighborhood. I was surprised to see that I'd started the first of them with a little about Jane's Walks - obviously an idea that's been at the back of my mind for a long while. Here's information about our Jane's Walk 2024. Less Marc Jacobs, More Jane Jacobs January 2011, WestView News By Karen Christensen [...]

April 11th, 2024|Categories: Oddments|

Hidden Lives, Hidden Wives – The Author 2019

Hidden Lives, Hidden Wives Karen Christensen Published in The Auth0r, Autumn 2019 It began with a Twitter hashtag: #thanksfortyping. For most of the twentieth century, even authors who composed on the typewriter needed a typist to prepare a clean final manuscript. Wives often did this work. A US historian at the University of Virginia, Bruce Holsinger, noticed that these wives were often not even given names when they were mentioned in a book’s acknowledgements. He began posting examples on Twitter, and people responded with examples of their own, of wives who not [...]

April 2nd, 2024|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|

Global housekeeping or home ecology?

A better world is possible. But we have to make it happen. I've hesitated for months about writing a new 2024 version of my first book, Home Ecology. As you may know, last year I started a second Substack newsletter with that title. But a newsletter is not enough. Books aren't enough either, but they are translated and serialized and quoted, and they endure. Part of my hesitation is practical - a lot of effort, unpredictable reward, and many other commitments. But it's also a hesitation to admit to a [...]

March 29th, 2024|Categories: Karen's Letter|

CATS and the survival of Fabers

This is a continuation of the story about Valerie Eliot and the making of Cats, told here. Let's start with a typical description of Valerie Eliot’s widowhood: After his death on 4 January 1965, Valerie proved a sterling and inspirational guardian of Eliot's work. She inherited his shareholding in the publishers Faber and Faber and became an active member of the board. The 1974 facsimile of The Waste Land, which includes Ezra Pound's annotations and which she edited, has not been faulted. I could quibble about the way Eliot’s first wife, [...]

March 21st, 2024|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: |

Valerie Eliot and the making of CATS

Valerie Eliot’s contribution to Cats has been unsung, largely because of her own concern about how she was viewed as a guardian of her husband’s literary legacy. The wealth it generated has huge consequences for her personally, and I’ve been puzzling over this since not long after her death in 2012. I worked for Valerie during the years when she was enjoying her new wealth, at a time when Faber & Faber, the publishing house that was also profiting greatly from Cats, was nonetheless struggling to survive. I’m interested [...]

March 21st, 2024|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|Tags: , , |

Hideous Men and E Jean Carroll

From October 2019: This is E Jean Carroll, who has this week accused Donald Trump of assault and rape. I've admired her column for years, and went on her The Most Hideous Men in New York Walking Tour last month. The photo below left was taken on 19 May 2019 in front of the former Studio 54 before the group broke up and E Jean and I went to a bar to talk about publishing. She'd taken us to Trump Tower, but didn't breathe a word about what was coming [...]

March 20th, 2024|Categories: Writing a Woman's Life|