By Margot Mifflin
Updated November 06, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST
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A Likely Story: One Summer With Lillian Hellman

type
  • Book

She served her guests cheap vodka concealed in a Smirnoff bottle, cheated at Scrabble, used the words faggot and kike with ”cheery abandon,” and had a nose ”like a great flesh-covered keel at the front of her head.” If you didn’t already know that playwright Lillian Hellman was an impossible boor, now you can count the ways she horrified her 17-year-old domestic, Mahoney (Whoredom in Kimmage), during a long ’70s summer on Martha’s Vineyard. The question is, who cares? Rosemary Mahoney’s exquisite prose in A Likely Story: One Summer with Lillian Hellman, which keeps darting away from Hellman’s pathetic dotage into the younger author’s more meaningful youth, is wasted on this pockmarked death mask for a literary lion. C

A Likely Story: One Summer With Lillian Hellman

type
  • Book
genre
author
  • Rosemary Mahoney

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