A Slant of Wind: A Summer Afternoon’s Reflections on Writing and Publishing

Published Date: December 29, 2020


The prolific Georges Simenon was convinced that “writing is not a profession but a vocation of unhappiness.” “Let’s face it,” William Styron concluded, “writing is hell.”

But now, under the oaks on a summer afternoon, I remember none of that. I remember only the joy, the exuberance of taking an idea and working with it, of daily tackling and solving the myriad challenges each chapter, each page, every paragraph can present, of reading over a page that seems just right and adding another page to it, and then another. Of seeing pages accumulate and reading them again and again, with mounting satisfaction and pleasure.

The essays in this collection include “A Slant of Wind” and Some “Vampire Erotica” • From “Send Me a Man Who Reads” to “Who Reads? Send Me A Wide Receiver” • The Baffling Case of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Mystery of Best Sellers • An Author in Search of a Character — and Himself: Gore Vidal Meets Denham Fouts • A Character in Search of an Author: The Last Lord Tredegar • De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum: On the Folly of Reviewing Books • Jacqueline Susann: Patron Saint of Writers? • “My Huckleberry Friend”: Memories of Gloria Vanderbilt • “Apply it to the Problem, Gentlemen”

About the Author

A graduate of Wesleyan University and the University of Virginia School of Law, Arthur T. Vanderbilt II is the author of many books of history, biography, memoirs and essays. His books have been selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, Reader’s Digest’s “Today’s Best Nonfiction,” the Easton Press Series of the 100 Best Books of American History, and other book clubs, and have been serialized in newspapers and magazines, translated into foreign languages, excerpted in anthologies, and optioned for television and film. He lives in New Jersey.


“A Slant of Wind” is wonderfully readable: funny, illuminating, informative, gossipy, wise. Arthur Vanderbilt writes so convincingly of the paradoxes, perils, and pleasures of the writing life, with reference to such notables as Scott Fitzgerald and Gore Vidal, that one would swear he’d lived among them as a close friend. The most beautiful of the recollections is “My Huckleberry Friend: Memories of Gloria Vanderbilt” — an account of a late-in-life (for Gloria) friendship with her writer-cousin Arthur from a distant branch of the Vanderbilt family. Highly recommended.”

— Joyce Carol Oates

Books by Arthur T. Vanderbilt II

Changing Law: A Biography of Arthur T. Vanderbilt
An Introduction to the Study of Law
Jersey Justice: Three Hundred Years of the New Jersey Judiciary
Law School: Briefing for a Legal Education
Treasure Wreck: The Fortunes and Fate of the Pirate Ship Whydah
Fortune’s Children: The Fall of the House of Vanderbilt
Golden Days: Memories of a Golden Retriever
New Jersey’s Judicial Revolution: A Political Miracle
The Making of a Bestseller: From Author to Reader
Jersey Jurists: Profiles in the Law
Gardening in Eden: The Joys of Planning and Tending a Garden
Best-Kept Boy in the World: The Short Scandalous Life of Denham
Florham: An American Treasure. (co-author)
The Richest and Most Famous Private Chef in the World: Joseph
Donon. (co-author)
The Soul of a House: Adventures in Building an Antique Retirement
Olmsted’s Vision: The Landscape of Florham. (co-author)
Remaking Florham: From Gilded Age Estate to Campus of Fairleigh
Dickinson University (co-author).

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