A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays

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First edition
(publ. New York Review Books)

A Bolt from the Blue and Other Essays is a collection of essays and reviews by Mary McCarthy. Although McCarthy was best known for her novels and memoirs, this collection, which spans from the 1930s to the 1970s, is as an essayist and critic. The essays include McCarthy's commentary on topics ranging from American realist playwrights to women's fashion magazines, from left-wing politics to the nineteenth-century novel, as well as writings on Vladimir Nabokov, J. D. Salinger, Vietnam, Italo Calvino, and Leo Tolstoy. In New York Times critic A. O. Scott's introduction to the work, Scott attempts to justify McCarthy's "witty savagery", as the collection's essays reveal McCarthy's unmitigated seriousness and rigor that were sometimes muzzled in her works of fiction.