Mary Ann Caws, a retired professor of English and French literature at the City University of New York, published her first book in 1966. Since then she has written several dozen studies, many of them about surrealism or modernism;
others with such varied subjects as the women of Bloomsbury, Robert Motherwell, Blaise Pascal, Provençal cooking, Dora Maar and the wonderfully titled The Art of Interference. Now, after a career of urbane, discreet academic distinction, Caws has decided that it is time for her to put her personality into her books as well as her name on the title page.
Creative Gatherings gives light but careful sketches of places that Caws has known where creative people — painters, sculptors, poets and others — have congregated, eaten, smoked, drunk and lounged, while discussing their work, exploring their hopes, bitching about their dealers, sincerely extolling or enviously belittling their rivals, bragging about sex, fooling, striving and desponding.