Tom Wolfe may deny that his novel is about Duke, but having spent 20 years there I know a few things about the school. Wolfe’s “Dupont University” has the same number of undergrads as Duke, the same fraternity-sorority dominance of the social scene, the same veneration of basketball, and a dozen other similarities.
In one of the most ambitious works of fiction to appear in recent years, Mary Gordon wrestles with large questions: What is worth living for? What does it mean to be human if we are unwilling to give up our lives for anything? What is the source of forgiveness? How do we hold on to hope?
The dates in the title tell of Richard Wilbur’s remarkable longevity. Once a youthful prodigy, he became part of poetry anthologies 30 years ago. By now Wilbur is a grizzled eminence, known at least vaguely to most Americans who pay any attention to poetry.