"Read, read, read. Read everything--trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read You'll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you'll find out. If it's not, throw it out the window." --William FaulknerLight in August, a novel about hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, features some of Faulkner's most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, who is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.
ONE OF THE GREATEST AMERICAN SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS
In 1955, with this short story collection, Flannery O'Connor firmly laid claim to her place as one of the most original and provocative writers of her generation. Steeped in a Southern Gothic tradition that would become synonymous with her name, these stories show O'Connor's unique, grotesque view of life-- infused with religious symbolism, haunted by apocalyptic possibility, sustained by the tragic comedy of human behavior, confronted by the necessity of salvation.
With these classic stories-- including "The Life You Save May Be Your Own," "Good Country People," "The Displaced Person," and seven other acclaimed tales-- O'Connor earned a permanent place in the hearts of American readers.
"Much savagery, compassion, farce, art, and truth have gone into these stories. O'Connor's characters are wholeheartedly horrible, and almost better than life. I find it hard to think of a funnier or more frightening writer." -- Robert Lowell
"In these stories the rural South is, for the first time, viewed by a writer who orthodoxy matches her talent. The results are revolutionary." -- The New York Times Book Review
Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964) was born in Savannah, Georgia. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of Iowa, but lived most of her life in the South, where she became an anomaly among post-World War II authors-- a Roman Catholic woman whose stated purpose was to reveal the mystery of God's grace in everyday life. Her work-- novels, short stories, letters, and criticism-- received a number of awards, including the National Book Award.
The most complete collection available of Willa Cather's remarkable short fiction, Collected Stories brings together all the stories published in book form during her lifetime along with two additional volumes compiled after her death.These nineteen stories resonate with all the great themes that Cather staked out like tracts of fertile land: the plight of people hungry for beauty in a country that has no room for it; the mysterious arc of human lives; and the ways the American frontier transformed the strangers who came to it, turning them imperceptibly into Americans. In these fictions, Cather displays her vast moral vision, her unerring sense of place, and her ability to find the one detail or episode that makes a closed life open wide in a single exhilarating moment.
"I set out deliberately to write a tour-de-force. Before I ever put pen to paper and set down the first word I knew what the last word would be and almost where the last period would fall." --William Faulkner on As I Lay DyingAs I Lay Dying is Faulkner's harrowing account of the Bundren family's odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie, their wife and mother. Narrated in turn by each of the family members--including Addie herself--as well as others the novel ranges in mood, from dark comedy to the deepest pathos. Considered one of the most influential novels in American fiction in structure, style, and drama, As I Lay Dying is a true 20th-century classic. This edition reproduces the corrected text of As I Lay Dying as established in 1985 by Noel Polk.
Nathanael West was only thirty-seven when he died in 1940, but his depictions of the sometimes comic, sometimes horrifying aspects of the American scene rival those of William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor. A Cool Million, written in 1934, is a satiric Horatio Alger story set in the midst of the Depression. The Dream Life of Balso Snell (1931) was described by one critic as "a fantasy about some rather scatological adventures of the hero in the innards of the Trojan horse."
David Stacton's The Judges of The Secret Court is a long-lost triumph of American fiction as well as one of the finest books ever written about the Civil War. Stacton's gripping and atmospheric story revolves around the brothers Edwin and John Wilkes Booth, members of a famous theatrical family. Edwin is a great actor, himself a Hamlet-like character whose performance as Hamlet will make him an international sensation. Wilkes is a blustering mediocrity on stage who is determined, however, to be an actor in history, and whose assassination of Abraham Lincoln will change America. Stacton's novel about how the roles we play become, for better or for worse, the lives we lead, takes us back to the day of the assassination, immersing us in the farrago of bombast that fills Wilkes's head while following his footsteps up to the fatal encounter at Ford's Theatre. The political maneuvering around Lincoln's deathbed and Wilkes's desperate flight and ignominious capture then set the stage for a political show trial that will condemn not only the guilty but the--at least relatively--innocent. For as Edwin Booth broods helplessly many years later, and as Lincoln, whose tragic death and wisdom overshadow this tale, also knew, "We are all accessories before or after some fact. . . . We are all guilty of being ourselves."
Detective-story master Dashiell Hammett gives us yet another unforgettable read in Red Harvest When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered, the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty--even if that meant taking on an entire town. Red Harvest is more than a superb crime novel: it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain.
One of the finest American poets of the second half of the twentieth century, James Schuyler was at the same time a remarkable novelist. Alfred and Guinevere are two children who have been sent by their parents to spend the summer at their grandmother's house in the country. There they puzzle over their parents' absence and their relatives' habits, play games and pranks, make friends and fall out with them, spat and make up. Schuyler has a pitch-perfect ear for the children's voices, and the story, told entirely through snatches of dialogue and passages from Guinevere's diary, is a tour de force of comic and poetic invention. The reader discovers that beneath the book's apparently guileless surface lies a very sophisticated awareness of the complicated ways in which words work to define the often perilous boundaries between fantasy and reality, innocence and knowledge.