For 300 years, New Jersey writers, books, and historical events have helped shape the cultural landscape of the nation, and yet the state is rarely credited for its numerous contributions to American letters and folklore. Paging New Jersey is just the book for those interested in uncovering a treasure trove of information about the Garden State’s key role in the creation of U.S. literary and popular culture. New Jersey writers from Stephen Crane to Toni Morrison are included as well as longtime Camden resident Walt Whitman and Newark native Philip Roth.
James F. Broderick’s unique look at the state’s literary and cultural history answers intriguing Jersey-related questions such as: how author Peter Benchley got the idea for Jaws; where Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton; why the Hindenberg exploded over Lakehurst in 1937; and where to find help in locating Captain Kidd’s buried treasure along the Jersey Shore. Most people know that television’s fictional Tony Soprano lives in New Jersey, but what about the state’s other mobsters— The real “goombahs?” Who are they and what have these particular Jersey devils written?
Full of commentary, biographical information, and history—along with suggested reading lists— Paging New Jersey is a crash course in Jerseyana. For those who live in the state, expatriots, and yes, even those who think all New Jersey has to offer is the Turnpike, Broderick’s engaging yet learned book provides an entertaining look at the Garden State’s rich cultural heritage.
Real people don’t run away from. . .But real people can run away to. . .
In 1936, a child is born in the mountains of West Virginia. In 2005, he scatters his past into a deep canyon of rock. The Pale Light of Sunset: Scattershots and Hallucinations in an Imagined Life illuminates the journey of this boy, a constant tourist and visitor, who travels everywhere, yet belongs nowhere. Through tales of swarming hornets and swinging bullies, love affairs with the land and its people, and near death by frostbite and heat stroke, the absurd hilarity and clear, tender voice found within this story navigates a surreal road paved by the experiences of one man.
Author of nationally acclaimed and locally banned novels Crum and Screaming with the Cannibals, Lee Maynard details an imaginative account of his journey through seventy years of hard living—from West Virginia, to Mexico, the Arctic Circle, and beyond. Scattered and hallucinated, The Pale Light of Sunset grants a long-awaited glimpse into the bent condition of the Maynard brain.
Paper Sons: A Memoir
Dickson Lam Autumn House Press, 2018 Library of Congress PS3612.A543283Z46 2018 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Set in a public housing project in San Francisco, Lam's memoir explores his transformation from a teenage graffiti writer to a high school teacher working with troubled youth while navigating the secret violence in his immigrant's family's past.
The twelve contemporary fiction writers interviewed in Passion and Craft go beyond the merely autobiographical, revealing that, despite
their differences, they share passionate devotion and discipline for their
Included are Richard Ford, winner in 1995 of both the Pulitzer Prize
and the PEN/Faulkner Award; Gina Berriault, 1997 winner of the National
Book Critics Circle Award; Bobbie Ann Mason; T. Coraghessan Boyle; Rick
Bass; Leonard Michaels; Christopher Tilghman; Thom Jones; Julia Alvarez;
Andre Dubus; Jayne Anne Phillips; and Tobias Wolff.
Their comments will interest readers devoted to their novels and stories,
other writers, and aspiring writers.
In a literary environment dominated by men, the first American to earn a living as a writer and to establish a reputation on both sides of the Atlantic was, miraculously, a woman. Hannah Adams dared to enter--and in some ways was forced to enter--a sphere of literature that had, in eighteenth-century America, been solely a male province. Driven by poverty and necessity, and aided by an extraordinarily adept mind and keen sense of business, Adams authored works on New England history, sectarian history, and Jewish history, using and citing the most recent scholarly works being published in Great Britain and America. As a female writer, she would always remain something of an outsider, but her accomplishments did not by any means go unrecognized: embraced by the Boston intelligentsia and highly regarded throughout New England, Adams came to epitomize the possibility in a democratic society that anyone could rise to a circle of intellectual elites.
In A Passionate Usefulness, the first book-length biography of this remarkable figure, Gary Schmidt focuses primarily on the intimate connection between Adams's reading and her own literary work. Hers is the story of incipient scholarship in the new nation, the story of a dependence that evolved into intellectual independence. Schmidt sets Adams's works in the context of her early poverty and desperate family situation, her decade-long feud with one of New England's most powerful Calvinist ministers, her alliance with the budding Unitarian movement in Boston, and her work establishing the first evangelical mission to Palestine (a task she accomplished virtually single-handedly).
Today Adams still holds a place not only as a female writer who made her way economically in the book business before any other woman--or male writer--could do so, but also as a key figure in the transitional generation between the American Revolution and the Renaissance upon whose groundwork much of the country's later literature would build.
Gary Schmidt is Professor of English at Calvin College and the coauthor, with Carol Winters, of Edging the Boundaries of Children's Literature.
Paul Bowles: A Life
Virginia Spencer Carr Northwestern University Press, 2008 Library of Congress PS3552.O874Z625 2009 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
Paul Bowles, best known for his classic 1949 novel, The Sheltering Sky, is one of the most compelling yet elusive figures of twentieth-century American counterculture. In this definitive biography, Virginia Spencer Carr has captured Bowles in his many guises: gifted composer, expatriate novelist, and gay icon, to name only a few.
Born in New York in 1910, Bowles' brilliance was evident from early childhood. His first artistic interest was music, which he studied with the composer Aaron Copland. Bowles wrote scores for films and countless plays, including pieces by Tennessee Williams and Orson Welles. Over the course of his life, his intellectual pursuits led him around the world. He cultivated a circle of artistic friends that included Gertrude Stein, W.H. Auden, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsburg, William Burroughs, Stephen Spender, and Carson McCullers.
Just as fascinating for his flamboyant personality as for his literary success, Bowles' leftist politics and experimentation with drugs make him an ever-controversial character. Carr delves into Bowles' unconventional marriage to Jane Auer and his self-exile in Morocco. Close friends with him before his death in 1999, Carr's first-hand knowledge of Bowles is undeniable. This book encompasses her personal experiences plus ten years of research and interviews with some two hundred of Bowles' acquaintances.
Virginia Spencer Carr has written a riveting biography that tells not only the story of Paul Bowles' literary genius, but also of a crucial period of redefinition in American culture. Carr is simultaneously entertaining and precise, delivering a wealth of information on one of the most mythologized figures of mid-century literature.
Playwright, biographer, screenwriter, and critic S. N. Behrman (1893--1973) characterized the years he spent writing for The New Yorker as a time defined by "feverish contact with great theatre stars, rich people and social people at posh hotels, at parties, in mansions and great estates." While he hobnobbed with the likes of Mary McCarthy, Elia Kazan, and Greta Garbo and was one of Broadway's leading luminaries, Behrman would later admit that the friendships he built with the magazine's legendary editors Harold Ross, William Shawn, and Katharine S. White were the "one unalloyed felicity" of his life.
People in a Magazine collects Behrman's correspondence with his editors along with telegrams, interoffice memos, and editorial notes drawn from the magazine's archives -- offering an unparalleled view of mid-twentieth-century literary life and the formative years of The New Yorker, from the time of Behrman's first contributions to the magazine in 1929 until his death.
Books on writing generally offer prescriptions and proscriptions about this "craft so hard to learn" instead of evidence. But in A Piece of Work Woodruff's incisive questions guide five writers—Tobias Wolff, Tess Gallagher, Robert Coles, Joyce Carol Oates, and Donald Hall—through specific examples that enable the reader to see how good writing becomes better. From the first draft through various revisions and finally to the printed version of a single piece of each author's work, Woodruff traces the full course of the revision process.
Pilgrims To The Wild
John P O'Grady University of Utah Press, 1993 Library of Congress PS163.O18 1993 | Dewey Decimal 818.08
Pilgrims to the Wild is a survey of American writers who have responded to their encounters with the natural world. Ranging in its treatment from Thoreau’s important but neglected essay, 'Walking,' to the exuberant letters of the young artist Everett Ruess (who disappeared in the Escalante canyonlands), this is a broadly based exploration that brings to bear Eastern and Western classical philosophy, as well as contemporary critical theory, on a distinctive tradition of American Writing—those works concerned with the human relationship to the nonhuman world.
In addition to offering a fresh interpretation of classic authors such a Thoreau and Muir, this book introduces readers to the less widely known but equally fascinating writers Clarence King and Mary Austin.
An image of Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1849) as a man of gloom and mystery continues to hold great popular appeal. Long recognized as one of the greats of American literature, he elicited either highly commendatory or absolutely hostile reactions from many who knew him, from others who claimed to comprehend him as person or as writer, and from still others who circulated as fact opinions intuited from his writings. Whether promoting him as angel or demon, “a man of great and original genius” or “extraordinarily wicked,” the viewpoints in this dramatic collection of primary materials provide vigorous testimony to support the contradictory images of the man and the writer that have prevailed for a century and a half.
Noted Poe scholar Benjamin Fisher includes a comprehensive introduction and a detailed chronology of Poe’s sadly short life; each entry is introduced by a short headnote that places the selection in historical and cultural context, and explanatory notes provide information about people and places. From John Allan’s letter to Secretary of War John Eaton about Poe’s West Point life to John Frankenstein’s hostile verse casting him as an alcoholic, from Rufus Griswold’s first and second posthumous vilifications to James Russell Lowell’s more sensible outline of his life and career, from scornful to commendable reviews to scathing attacks on his morals to recognition of his comic achievements, Fisher has gathered a lively array of materials that read like the most far-fetched of gothic tales.
Poe himself was creative when he supplied information to others about his life and literary career, and the speculative content of many of the portrayals presented in this collection read as if their authors had set out to be equally creative. The sixty-nine recollections gathered in Poe in His Own Time form a dramatic, real-time biographical narrative designed to provide a multitude of perspectives on the famous author, sometimes in conflict with each other and sometimes in agreement but always arresting.
The Communist International's Popular Front campaign of the 1930s brought to the fore ideas that resonated in Chicago's African American community. Indeed, the Popular Front not only connected to the black experience of the era, but outlasted its Communist Party affiliation to serve as both model and inspiration for a postwar cultural insurrection led by African Americans. With a new preface Bill V. Mullen updates his dynamic reappraisal of a critical moment in American cultural history. Mullen's study includes reassessments of the politics of Richard Wright's critical reputation and a provocative reading of class struggle in Gwendolyn Brooks' A Street in Bronzeville . He also takes an in-depth look at the institutions that comprised Chicago's black popular front: the Chicago Defender , the period's leading black newspaper; Negro Story , the first magazine devoted to publishing short stories by and about African Americans; and the WPA-sponsored South Side Community Art Center.
The Promise of Failure is part memoir of the writing life, part advice book, and part craft book; sometimes funny, sometimes wrenching, but always honest. McNally uses his own life as a blueprint for the writer’s daily struggles as well as the existential ones, tackling subjects such as when to quit and when to keep going, how to deal with depression, what risking something of yourself means, and ways to reenergize your writing through reinvention.
What McNally illuminates is how rejection, in its best light, is another element of craft, a necessary stage to move the writer from one project to the next, and that it’s best to see rejection and failure on a life-long continuum so that you can see the interconnectedness between failure and success, rather than focusing on failure as a measure of self-worth. As brutally candid as McNally can sometimes be, The Promise of Failure is ultimately an inspiring book—never in a Pollyannaish self-help way. McNally approaches the reader as a sympathetic companion with cautionary tales to tell. Written by an author who has as many unpublished books under his belt as published ones, The Promise of Failure is as much for the newcomer as it is for the established writer.