"William Maxwell's Palace," The Hudson Review (autumn 2014).
I have lost track of how many times I have read So Long, See You Tomorrow or listened to Maxwell himself read it on an audiocassette recording. I have remained long perplexed by his extensive quotation from Alberto Giacometti. Though Maxwell doesn't identify the book that fell open after his nap, it may have well been a small volume of writings and photographs published in 1965 by the Museum of Modern Art. It was the third time letters from Giacometti to Pierre Matisse had been published in some form. Matisse himself had published them in exhibition catalogues in 1948 and 1950, and in 1952 they appeared in a little short-run magazine called Trans/formation under the title "1 + 1 = 3." I have a vivid picture in my mind of Maxwell sitting on the edge of his bed reaching for this slight canvas hardcover with a black tape binding and sewn pages that lay open so easily, paging through the dim photographs of elongated figures and architectural sculptures. I showed one to my two-and-a-half year-old son—Man, from 1929. He's just beginning to learn the pleasure of naming things. "That is a house!" he said.
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