Elegant ... With this new book, he gives us a window into the vibrant intellectual community that he and Hardwick shared ... An exercise in intimate biography. Rather than presenting an objective account of the subject’s life, intimate biography is subjective and impressionistic; its author relies on anecdote and memory more than facts and sources ... Though never sentimental, the book is in part an elegy for a particular moment in New York’s past and for the people who made the city’s creative scene what it was ... At times painful and poignant, Come Back in September is nonetheless a delight to read, full of deft character sketches and delicious gossip ... I read and reread this book joyfully, catching many of Pinckney’s references, looking up others and letting the rest wash over me like lyrics from a half-forgotten song.
Intimate ... Pinckney conveys a sense of daily life in this now-vanished literary world. But his book is emphatically not a biography ... Pinckney has given us an introspective character study, freewheeling and impressionistic ... An assured handling of themes and techniques he has been working with across his career ... Pinckney’s sympathy for feminine genius, richly elaborated in this memoir, runs through his work like a golden thread ... Pinckney has always been formally ambitious ... Pinckney’s roving style, his impressionist blurring, elevates a society memoir into a kaleidoscopic portrait of 1970s New York ... Pinckney weaves a tapestry of gossip, filled with smatter and chatter ... Pinckney transforms mentor into muse. It is a loving portrait, but not a hagiographic one.
This memoir of that apprenticeship — by one of our most distinguished writers on African American culture, literature and history — provides a 'you are there' account of those thrilling years ... Because Pinckney, now in his late 60s, kept detailed journals in his younger days, he has been able to re-create conversations with 'Lizzie,' as she was known to intimates, while also providing incisive vignettes of the Review’s co-editors ... No reader will be indifferent to the gossipy stories in Come Back in September.