“James Schuyler and I began writing A Nest of Ninnies purely by chance,” writes John Ashbery in his new introduction to this classic of American comic fiction. “We were in a car being driven by the young cameraman, Harrison Starr, with his father as a passenger in the front seat . . . Jimmy said, ‘Why don’t we write a novel?’ And how do we do that, I asked. ‘It’s easy—you write the first line,’ was his reply.” The result is one of the strangest and most exuberant experiments in American literary history, a verbal tour de force of suburban Americana. First published in 1969, A Nest of Ninnies is a true gem-in-the-rough, the decades-long collaborative project from two of the great poetic minds of the twentieth century.
John Ashbery (born 1927 in Rochester, NY) is one of the best-known living American poets; he’s won virtually every major American poetry prize, including the 1976 Pulitzer. James Schuyler (1923-1991) also won a Pulitzer for poetry, his in 1980, and with Ashbery helped to form the loosely-defined New York School that included Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Barbara Guest.