"Contrary to mythology, Mark Twain did not conjure up his masterpieces while puffing cigars on a Southern riverboat. He wrote them, or at least parts of them, at a table in a third-floor billiard room in his house in Hartford, where he and his family lived for about 17 years. (He also cranked out his books at a summer house in Elmira, N.Y., but either way the slow churn of the Mississippi River was nowhere in sight.)"
"Wallace Stevens never learned to drive. Even though many of his neighbors had no idea what he was up to, he would amble along Asylum Avenue methodically measuring the pace of his steps and murmuring phrases to himself — phrases that would become some of the most haunting lines in the English language."