The recent passing of Hortense Calisher prompted me to review Joyce Carol Oates’s writings about her. There were mentions in the Journal, and in an essay, “Imaginary Cities: America,” as well as book reviews of Calisher’s The New Yorkers and Mysteries of Motion.

Of the latter, JCO writes:

This massive, densely plotted novel of the not-very- distant future is Miss Calisher’s most unexpected work of fiction and, surely, as ambitious as anything we are likely to see published this season. No summary of the interwoven plots, no discussion of the novel’s many ideas, can suggest the quality of this unusual work, which is at once a defiantly risky species of science fiction and a thoroughly realistic psychological novel—traditional in its fidelity to the analysis of human personality under stress. Suspenseful as the novel becomes, especially as its frightening conclusion approaches, it is primarily a meditation upon the nature of heroism and self-sacrifice in the service of an ideal.

JCO also included Calisher’s works in her anthologies First Person Singular: Writers On Their Craft, and Night Walks: A Bedside Companion.

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