Tóibín’s Connection to Bishop: Silence

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On Elizabeth BishopOn Elizabeth Bishop
by Colm Tóibín
Princeton University Press
224 pages, $19.95

 

IT COMES AS SOMETHING of a surprise to find Colm Tóibín writing a book about Elizabeth Bishop. She died in 1979, and the Irish writer (born in 1955) never met her. His bailiwick is fiction, with three novels nominated for the Man Booker Prize, while Bishop was a celebrated American poet. More fundamentally, their photos look so different: the novelist’s ruddy face, with thick dark eyebrows, furrowed jowls, and disheveled hair, versus the fair poet’s precision-combed locks, thin lips, and serene gaze—almost, but not quite, demure.

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