A Swallow Press Book
By Janet Lewis
“Any consideration of the writing of Janet Lewis becomes inevitably a consideration of style. In Good-bye, Son, she exhibits a classical purity that is rare.”
New York Times
“The collection may remind you of some of the quiet stories of Willa Cather.”
The New Yorker
“(Good-bye, Son, and Other Stories) is … an unaccountably neglected book, a collection [that explores] the apprehension and experiencing of death, and the consolatory power inherent in understanding one’s place and part in the natural cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.”
Christian Science Monitor
“(Janet Lewis) is a striking example of a quiet talent working quietly through almost the entirety of a noisy, celebrity-heavy century.”
Larry McMurtry, New York Review of Books
Good-bye, Son and Other Stories, Janet Lewis’s only collection of short fiction, was first published in 1946, but remains as quietly haunting today as it was then. Set in small communities of the upper Midwest and northern California in the ’30s and ’40s, these midcentury gems focus on the quiet cycles connecting youth and age, despair and hope, life and death. A mother’s encounters with her deceased son, an aging woman sitting with the new knowledge of her troubled older sister’s death, and a teenager disillusioned by her own mortality are among the characters, mostly women and girls, whom Lewis delivers. Her understated style and knack for unadorned observation embed us with them as they reckon with the disquieting forces—incomprehensible and destructive to some, enlightening to others—that move us from birth, through life, to death. In the process, Lewis has crafted a paean to the living.
Janet Lewis was a novelist, poet, and short-story writer whose literary career spanned almost the entire twentieth century. The New York Times has praised her novels as “some of the 20th century’s most vividly imagined and finely wrought literature.” Born and educated in Chicago, she lived in California for most of her adult life and taught at both Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley. Her works include The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941), The Trial of Sören Qvist (1947), The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron (1959), Good-Bye, Son and Other Stories (1946), and Poems Old and New (1982). More info →
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The Wife of Martin Guerre—based on a notorious trial in sixteenth-century France—is “one of the most significant short novels in English” (Atlantic Monthly). Originally published in 1941, it still raises questions about identity, belonging, and about an individual’s capacity to act within an inflexible system.
Originally published in 1947, The Trial of Sören Qvist has been praised by a number of critics for its intriguing plot and Janet Lewis’s powerful writing. And in the introduction to this new edition, Swallow Press executive editor and author Kevin Haworth calls attention to the contemporary feeling of the story—despite its having been written more than fifty years ago and set several hundred years in the past.
This historical novel is the third and final book in American poet and fiction writer Janet Lewis’s Cases of Circumstantial Evidence series, based on legal case studies compiled in the nineteenth century. In The Ghost of Monsieur Scarron, Lewis returns to her beloved France, the setting of The Wife of Martin Guerre, her best-known novel and the first in the series.
Each of the crystalline worlds Cary Holladay brings us in the short stories and novella that make up Brides in the Sky has sisterhood, in all its urgency and peril, at its heart. She crafts these stories with subtle humor, a stunning sense of place, and an unerring eye for character.