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This richly detailed biography of America's feisty, free-thinking "first lady of letters" was pronounced by New York Newsday "the best literary biography" in years, "compounded in equal parts of investigative reporting, cultural history, textual criticism, political savvy and delicious gossip." Winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. Index; photographs.Brightman's massive biography of Mary McCarthy passionately and responsibly chronicles the many incarnations of "the first lady of letters." There's a lot to tell: McCarthy married four times, entertained many lovers, co-founded the Partisan Review, opposed World War II and penned 16 novels, several memoirs and hundreds of letters, articles, essays and reviews during her 79 years. Brightman richly details McCarthy's ascension from a battered foster child to a celebrated member of the New York literary and intellectual elite. For McCarthy, Brightman writes, language was "an instrument of conquest ... a medium for the refinement of perception." Writing Dangerously won a 1992 National Book Critics Circle Award.