My Mentor by Alec Wilkinson
A Young Man's Friendship with William Maxwell

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Synopsis

At twenty-four, Alec Wilkinson decided that he wanted to write, so his father asked for the help of his closest friend, William Maxwell, widely regarded as one of the twentieth century's great American writers and an editor of fiction for forty years at The New Yorker. MY MENTOR is the story of a young man's education at the hands of a master and a heartbreaking meditation on the brave, graceful end of Maxwell's long and happy life - he died at ninety-one, in July 2000. Making use of biography, memoir, and essay, and writing in a lapidary but intimate voice, Wilkinson explores the deeply resonant friendship between the old man and the young one. His experience with Maxwell over the course of twenty-five years he takes as the occasion for a profound and moving reflection on writing, wisdom, fatherhood, love, courage, dignity, and the end that awaits us all.
 

About Alec Wilkinson

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Alec Wilkinson is the author of A Violent Act, Moonshine Midnights, and Big Sugar. A recipient of a Lyndhurst Prize, a Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and a Guggenheim fellowship, he is a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Esquire, and other magazines. He lives in New York City.
 
Published April 4, 2002 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 192 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for My Mentor

Kirkus Reviews

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He creates an enduring testimony to their long friendship, down to the last days when his affection for Maxwell was “worn like a garment over a sadness that was part loneliness and part despair and anger at being deprived of the one man I loved.” The element of catharsis is never gratuitous, but ...

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Publishers Weekly

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The literary gods must have smiled on future New Yorker writer Wilkinson (Violent Act), for he lived the dream of aspiring wri

Mar 04 2002 | Read Full Review of My Mentor: A Young Man's Frie...

Publishers Weekly

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The literary gods must have smiled on future New Yorker writer Wilkinson (Violent Act), for he lived the dream of aspiring writers everywhere: to have for decades the ear (and eye) of a giant, the late William Maxwell, acclaimed novelist and legendary New Yorker editor.

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Book Reporter

Wilkinson in his writing, but helped him --- by advice and by.

Jan 22 2011 | Read Full Review of My Mentor: A Young Man's Frie...

Entertainment Weekly

Instead, he delivers a hagiography of his ''most intimate friend'' and ''alternative father,'' making Maxwell seem less a human than a miracle—wise and handsome and generous, with a wife who was ''nearly always the most beautiful woman of any age in a room of other women.'' The slim volume t...

Apr 12 2002 | Read Full Review of My Mentor: A Young Man's Frie...

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