“Memory, of course, is sometimes like a bucking horse, sometimes a runaway one, and one must control the reins until finally it stops, snorting with exhausted relief,” writes Natalie L. M. Petesch in her haunting new collection, The Confessions of Señora Francesca Navarro and Other Stories. Petesch immerses readers in the lives of people caught up in the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War, which left more than five hundred thousand dead.
Although best known as a master of the formal lyric poem, Louise Bogan (1897–1970) also published fiction and what would now be called lyrical essays. A Poet’s Prose: Selected Writings of Louise Bogan showcases her devotion to compression, eloquence, and sharp truths. Louise Bogan was poetry reviewer for the New Yorker for thirty-eight years, and her criticism was remarkable for its range and effect.
The first African American fiction writer to earn a national reputation, Charles W. Chesnutt remains best known for his depictions of Southern life before and after the Civil War. But he also produced a large body of what might best be called his “Northern” writings, and those works, taken together, describe the intriguing ways in which America was reshaping itself at the turn of the last century.
Once or twice in a generation a poet comes along who captures the essential spirit of the American Midwest and gives name to the peculiar nature that persists there. Like James Wright, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, and Jared Carter before him, Dan Lechay reshapes our imagination to include his distinct and profound vision of this undersung region.
Long famous as a political, social, and cultural gadfly, journalist and essayist H. L. Mencken was unafraid to speak his mind on controversial topics and to express his views in a deliberately provocative manner. Mencken was prolific; much of his best work lies buried in the newspapers and magazines in which it originally appeared.
What is the relationship between history and fiction in a place with a contentious past? And of what concern is gender in the telling of stories about that past? After the first blizzard of an early winter, a Mennonite college girl with a troubled past appears curled up and bloodied outside the offce of her childhood psychiatrist. Mute for many years as a child, Martha Lehman is again not talking.
Contemporaries were shocked when author Mary Noailles Murfree revealed she was a woman, but modern readers may be more surprised by her cogent discussion of community responses to unwanted development. Effie Waller Smith, an African American woman writing of her love for the Appalachian mountains, wove discussions of women's rights, racial tension, and cultural difference into her Appalachian poetry.
Westward expansion on the North American continent by European settlers generated a flurry of writings on the frontier experience over the course of a hundred years.
“I imagine everyone has a center of gravity,” says Ellen Bromfield Geld. “Something which binds one to the earth and gives sense and direction to what one does.” For Ellen, this center is a writing table before a window that looks out upon groves of pecan trees and mahogany-colored cattle in seas of grass. The place is Fazenda Pau D’Alho, Brazil, where she and her husband, Carson, have lived and farmed since 1961.
One-Smoke Stories is a collection of folk tales from Native American, Spanish Colonial, mestizo, and European American peoples of the Southwest retold in the enthralling words of one of the bestselling writers of her day, Mary Austin. One-Smoke Stories introduces us to a multicultural treasury of character types: lovers, hunters, bandits, shepherds, miners, ranchers, homesteaders, missionaries, government offcials, and supernatural beings.
Howard Nemerov—Poet Laureate of the United States, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award, and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets—was one of the most prolific and significant American poets of the twentieth century. By the time of his death in 1991, he had published fourteen collections of poetry.
The poems in One Unblinking Eye cast a steady and serious gaze at life outside the beltways. Whether testifying at a prayer meeting in Indiana, tramping the backwoods of northern New England, or working on an oil derrick in the Gulf, the inhabitants of these poems live on the margins of society. “They are the left-behind, odd-manneredones/Who speak in starts,” Norman Williams writes of the last residents of a West Virginia mining town.
Peter Rose has spent a lifetime exploring patterns of culture, examining issues of race and ethnicity, working with refugees, teaching sociology, and roaming the world. In Guest Appearances and Other Travels in Time and Space, he reflects on his adventures and the formative experiences that led him to a fascination with lives that seem quite unlike our own.
In Solving for X, his award-winning collection of new poems, Robert B. Shaw probes the familiar and encounters the unexpected; in the apparently random he discerns a hidden order. Throughout, Shaw ponders the human frailties and strengths that continue to characterize us, with glances at the stresses of these millennial times that now test our mettle and jar our complacency. Often touched with humor, his perceptions are grounded in devoted observation of the changing world.
John Reed (1887-1920) is best known as the author of Ten Days That Shook the World and as champion of the communist movement in the United States. Still, Reed remains a writer almost systematically ignored by the literary critical establishment, even if alternately vilified and lionized by historians and by films like Warren Beatty's Reds.