Image: “Deirdre in Rita’s Living Room,” by Leanne Shapton, 2008.
Sinkhole Editors: How did you begin writing “Grocery Shopping with Mary McCarthy”?
Rebecca Brill: Last year, I wrote my end-of-year research paper for Sean McCann’s New York in the 1940s class about the friendship between the writer Mary McCarthy and the theorist Hannah Arendt. I read a bunch of historical accounts of their relationship, including Between Friends, a really compelling collection of letters that they exchanged. I was intrigued by the strength of their bond, especially since they had very different world perspectives and political views. During their first meeting at a cocktail party, McCarthy flippantly commented that she pitied Hitler, which enraged Arendt (who had escaped the Holocaust) so much that she stormed out of the room. I was particularly inspired by the anecdote that my essay recounts, as it combines two of my favorite things: intense female friendships and anchovies.