Elizabeth Benedict

Elizabeth Benedict is the author of Almost and The Practice of Deceit.

Recent Articles

Books: Getting Naked in Print

The art of the high-brow confessional.

American Sucker By David Denby, Little Brown & Company, 320 pages, $24.95 "Dog Trouble" by Cathleen Schine, The New Yorker , January 5, 2004 "Webstalker" by Katha Pollitt, The New Yorker , January 19, 2004 "Envy" by Kathryn Chetkovich, Granta #82 It used to be so hard to be a writer! So many choices -- fiction, poetry, history, biography -- and so many hurdles. How to pay the bills while you made a name for yourself? Marry well, teach, write other stuff for money? If you did what I did and chose fiction writing, there were all those bothersome rules: disguise characters based on real people, make the father the alcoholic instead of the mother, set the story in Miami Beach instead of Wyoming, and be sure to lie when asked where you get your material. Real men didn't write autobiographically. It made them look like frauds and whiners instead of artists -- unless their subject was war (cf. James Jones, Norman Mailer, Tim O'Brien). But they didn't have to worry back then. People were...

When Baby Boomers Grow Old

L ast year, without warning, a close friend and gifted writer committed suicide. She was 75 and affluent, facing major surgery, a wheelchair, permanent incapacity; she declined that new life as unambiguously as she could. Several nights later, still raw from the news, I received a letter from the hotel-turned-assisted-living-facility--let us call it Shangri-la--where my 76-year-old divorced mother and her 88-year-old widowed sister live. They share a single room in a modest suburb of New York City. "Your aunt and mother's lease is due to expire on August 31, 2000," the director of admissions wrote. "We are pleased to offer them a renewal of their lease. Please note, there is a 5% increase over last year's rent. The new rent will be $3,780 per month." Please note, my mother and aunt have no idea how much Shangri-la costs. The times I have mentioned it, they have been flabbergasted. But a minute later, they cannot remember the number. They are sociable, spry, eager participants in the...