A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984


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Continual Lessons is a hefty book by Wescott standards, fairly dense pages covering the period from This new volume of his journal, which covers the last years of his life, is something of an afterthought, or an addendum. In A Heaven of Words , the middle-aged and then elderly Wescott does not pine for his storied past.

A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984

He makes simple observations about politics, and he writes many descriptions of nature and sunsets and birds, some of which feel like writing exercises, but he comes alive whenever he writes about sex, which is his real and lasting and abiding interest. Though most of this journal was written when Wescott was in his sixties and seventies, his sexual life had not slackened or abated. Many of the sexual encounters described here are of the three or four-way variety, and though they are often sketched in cryptically, it seems as if Wescott is repeating a pattern from his youth, when he would basically eavesdrop on intimacy and then be taken in by a couple, a third-wheel persona that started when Wheeler brought Lynes into their romantic and sexual life.

His instinct for sex is sharply discerning; at one point, he describes an unexpected sexual dream he had about the closeted writer John Cheever. But Apartment in Athens came at the end of a desert in my life, eighteen months of only grief and masturbation.

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Good work is more to be relied on to lead to good sex than vice versa. Not asking is what ages one.

The best! The moral is—the same in the case of literature as in the case of love—patience!


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    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984 A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984
    A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956–1984

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