Patience. Tact. Kindness. These are some of the qualities most often mentioned by the friends of Raymond J. Smith, who passed away on February 18, 2008 at the age of seventy-seven. As the editor and publisher of the distinguished literary magazine Ontario Review and of Ontario Review Press, and as the husband of novelist Joyce Carol Oates, Ray led a rich and full life devoted not only to his work and his marriage but also to numerous friends in the Princeton area and beyond.
—Greg Johnson, “Remembering Ray Smith”
On Editing The Ontario Review
I see editing a magazine not as compiling but creating, and the finished product as a work of art in its own right …. the editor, for better or worse, contributes (no matter how little) to the shaping of a culture. He need not, and perhaps should not, be doctrinaire; nevertheless, he will have values—aesthetic, cultural, even moral, that will be reflected in what he chooses to publish.
—Raymond J. Smith
Full Text of “On Editing The Ontario Review” at the Ontario Review website
Remembering Ray Smith
For those who knew Ray, however, his personal qualities are what will most be missed. On a couple of occasions I ‘house-sat’ for Ray and Joyce when they went on a rare extended trip, and what most stays in my memory is Ray showing me how to care for their two cats, their canary, and their plants. No detail was too small for him to discuss, and it struck me that he was a naturally nurturing person, whether dealing with animals, his garden, his authors, his friends, or his wife.
Full Text of “Remembering Ray Smith” (pdf) from the final issue of Ontario Review
Nighthawk: A Memoir of Lost Time
On Henry Street lived the man I would marry, by what concatenation of chance and fate I would never comprehend, in January 1961. So soon! He lived on the ground floor of a shabby wood-frame house, in a single-room flat with its own entrance, and crowded with books, journals, papers (he was completing his Ph.D. in eighteenth-century English literature, writing a dissertation on Jonathan Swift under the direction of the eminent scholar Ricardo Quintana); this flat in which, most evenings, we prepared and ate supper together….
And I was in love, and loved! I wasn’t one to torment myself with the riddle He loves me. His love is predicated upon not exactly knowing me. Am I morally obliged to enlighten him?
—Joyce Carol Oates
A Widow’s Story: A Memoir
Yet we were here, we’d come to meet one another, and so he’d crossed the room to sit beside me, before even I had had a clear glimpse of his face I’d begun to think But this is something—someone—special….Maybe.
—and he asked me if I would like to have dinner with him that evening which was the evening of October 23, 1960, and I said yes—yes I would—and so it happened that night, and the following night, and the following night—dinner together in Madison—and one of these evenings, an impromptu dinner in Ray’s little rented room on Henry Street—and we were engaged on November 23 and we were married—in Madison, in the sacristy of the Catholic chapel there—on January 23, 1961; and for forty-seven years and twenty-five days we would be together nearly every day and every night until the morning of February 11, 2008, when I drove my husband to the emergency room of the Princeton Medical Center; and we would speak together every day of those forty-seven years and twenty-five days until the early morning of February 18, 2008, when the call came for me, rousing me from sleep and summoning me to the hospital quickly! quickly!—”Mrs. Smith! Your husband is still alive.”
—Joyce Carol Oates
Ontario Review, A North American Journal of the Arts, was published from 1974 to 2008 by Raymond J. Smith and Joyce Carol Oates.
Founded in 1974, Ontario Review was one of the longest-lived literary journals. Conceived of as a North American Journal of the Arts, it was intended to bridge what Joyce and I, Americans teaching in Canada at the time, felt to be a widening gap between the two literary/artistic cultures. We tried to do this by publishing writers and artists from both countries, as well as essays and reviews of an intercultural nature. When we moved to Princeton, we put less emphasis on the intercultural role of the journal, though we still published many Canadians, from Margaret Atwood to Tom Wayman.
Literary journals like Epoch, Kenyon Review, and Southern Review were of great importance in nourishing Joyce’s incipient career as an author in the sixties, and she and I have always seen the nurturing role as a function of our journal. Over the years, many young writers have had their first published story or poem appear in Ontario Review. Some of them, like Pinckney Benedict and Reginald Gibbons, have gone on to distinguished literary careers.
Ontario Review published original fiction, poetry, personal essays, drama, photographs, graphics, and interviews with prominent contemporary authors. Each issue was a blend of older, more established writers with promising younger ones. Stories and poems appearing in the Review were regularly chosen for national anthologies of the best fiction and poetry published each year. “Given the small number of stories it publishes, Ontario Review has one of the highest batting averages for prize-winning fiction in the field,” observed DeWitt Henry in Wilson Library Bulletin.
Over the past two and a half decades we have featured over 450 different poets, writers, translators, reviewers, artists, and photographers. Among them are Alice Adams, Jane Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Russell Banks, Donald Barthelme, Saul Bellow, Pinckney Benedict, Earle Birney, Joseph Brodsky, Hayden Carruth, Raymond Carver, Annie Dillard, Rita Dove, Margaret Drabble, Stuart Dybek, Carlos Fuentes, Tess Gallagher, Albert Goldbarth, Nadine Gordimer, Eaman Grennan, Donald Hall, William Heyen, Ted Hughes, Josephine Jacobsen, Jill Krementz, Maxine Kumin, Irving Layton, Doris Lessing, Alistair MacLeod, W. S. Merwin, Mary Morris, Barry Moser, Gloria Naylor, Joyce Carol Oates, Alicia Ostriker, Jay Parini, Stanley Plumly, Reynolds Price, Ned Rorem, Philip Roth, Dave Smith, Gary Soto, Elizabeth Spencer, William Stafford, Mark Strand, Deborah Tannen, Melanie Rae Thon, Chase Twichell, John Updike, David Wagoner, Robert Penn Warren, Tom Wayman, Theodore Weiss, C. K. Williams, and Charles Wright.
—Raymond J. Smith
Ontario Review Press
“The Ontario Review Press, of Princeton, N.J., calls up memories of Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press in London, though on a smaller scale. For the editor is Raymond J. Smith, and the associate editor, his wife, is better known as Joyce Carol Oates.”
—Herbert Mitgang, New York Times Book Review,
Oct. 5, 1980
[The following was taken from the original Ontario Review Press website. Ontario Review Press is no longer operating.]
Since 1980, when we published our first list, we have brought out some fifty books, many in both hardcover and paperback editions, from poetry collections by Albert Goldbarth and Chase Twichell to critical anthologies devoted to the work of E. L. Doctorow and Joan Didion. Our publications include a number of anthologies, most notably The Generation of 2000: Contemporary American Poets, edited by William Heyen; First Person Singular: Writers on Their Craft, edited by Joyce Carol Oates; and You Don’t Know What Love Is: Contemporary American Stories, edited by Ron Hansen. The Letters of Delmore Schwartz, edited by Robert Phillips, appeared in 1984, and The Table Talk of W.H. Auden by Alan Ansen in 1990. Our strongest department is fiction, with an emphasis on first collections of short stories, including titles by Pinckney Benedict, Greg Johnson, and Janice Daugharty.
Ontario Review Books was a natural, if not inevitable, offshoot of the magazine. Many of the books we have published are by authors whose work first appeared in Ontario Review, some of them, like Pinckney Benedict and Jeanne Schinto, discoveries of ours. We published first books by them and many other fiction writers and poets, over the years, from Annette Williams Jaffee’s widely acclaimed novel Adult Education (1981) to Jeanne Wilmot’s Dirt Angel (1997). Tied in with our interest in publishing first books by previously unknown authors, has been our aim to introduce to an American audience writers from Canada and overseas that we feel are particularly provocative. Among them are the Irish poet Eavan Boland, the Swedish fiction writer Margareta Ekstrom, and the Canadians Tom Wayman and Alistair MacLeod, the latter hailed by Robert Stone, as “one of North America’s masters of the short story.”
The Ontario Review, Inc. acquired the reputation of being “small but select” as The New York Times put it in a “Book Note” by Edwin McDowell in 1990, the tenth anniversary of Ontario Review Books:
The The Ontario Review, Inc. publishes only three to four books a year, but one of them—On the Island, by Josephine Jacobsen—was nominated earlier this month for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. When Claude Simon of France won the 1985 Nobel Prize in Literature, his novel The World About Us was available in the United States only from the The Ontario Review, Inc. Another book from the publishing house, Letters of Delmore Schwartz, edited by Robert Phillips, was reviewed on the front page of The New York Times Book Review in 1984. And next month the The Ontario Review, Inc. will reprint Expensive People, the third of Joyce Carol Oates’s 20 novels.
Selected Publications of the Ontario Review Press:
Set mainly in rural West Virginia, Town Smokes was Pinckney Benedict’s widely acclaimed debut as a short-story writer.
“We have been introduced to an original.”
“An often heart-stopping literary performance.”
—New York Times Book Review
ISBN 0-86538-058-9, $9.95 paperback
The Left-Handed Marriage
Stories by Leigh Buchanan Bienen
“The Left-Handed Marriage is a short story collection, but Leigh Buchanan Bienen cuts to the quick of her characters’ lives so effectively that most of the stories are as engaging and satisfying as a novel. The most astounding one is “Technician,” a meticulous portrait of Tommy Angelino, a 23-year-old loafer whose unremarkable life and lack of ambition make him perfectly suited to a repugnant job. He is hired to be an executioner, one of the three people who administer the lethal drug in the prison death chamber. The people who populate Tommy’s humdrum life in New Jersey—his overprotective mother, his clingy fiancée, his lovestruck best friend—are as vivid as the people one sits across from every Thanksgiving. Bienen’s scrupulous depiction of Tommy’s journey from harmless slacker to eager killer is chilling.
The title story is equally effective. One evening Marjory turns to her husband in their well-appointed suburban den and announces, “it’s time you had a second wife.” She proposes that he marry the babysitter so he can sire a son (after two children, Marjory cannot have more) and continue his relationship with “his number one wife” in a secret version of the polygamy practiced in Africa. Needless to say, the plan goes awry, but the unraveling, with its acid commentary on modern life, is fascinating. Some of Bienen’s other stories are equally scorching, though not all of the 10 in this collection succeed. Nevertheless, The Left-Handed Marriage marks the arrival of a new talent.”
—Washington Post Book World
“Leigh Buchanan Bienen’s stories are wise and accomplished. Yet what most distinguishes them, perhaps, is their variety. Hers is an imagination that goes to entire territories that other contemporary writers, no matter how good, have not visited. Whether writing from the point of view of a West African parrot, or offering a Dreiserian rendering of the life of a present-day executioner, Bienen presents a vision distinguished by its range and supported by powerful narrative gifts. Each of the stories in The Left-Handed Marriage is gripping in its own way.” —Scott Turow
ISBN 0-86538-102-X, $23.95 cloth
The Identity Club
New and Selected Stories by Richard Burgin”A compelling vision of contemporary America.”
— The San Francisco Chronicle
“Above all, these are city stories, and Burgin gets it all in there: loneliness, homelessness, prostitution, and pickup basketball games.” — The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Burgin is eloquent in poking at emotional places… He’s a brilliant storyteller who picks at scabs and sticks his tongue into the pocket where the pulled tooth used to be.”— The St.Petersburg Times
“There is no voice in American letters today like Richard Burgin’s. It is a voice both matter-of-fact and unsettling at the same time.”— The Bloomsbury Review
ISBN 0-86538-115-1, $24.95 hardcover
A Novel by Linda D. Cirino
“A pleasure to read and a privilege to recommend—this swift moving and most original novel in the familiar setting of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.”
“A strange, haunting love story, this moving novel is compelling in its authority and power, touching in its simplicity…. In the end, this story about people and the choices they make reminds us of what it means to be human.”
“A plainspoken love story set in rural Nazi Germany in 1936, this debut novel traces an ordinary farm woman’s political awakening…. What animates this earnest work is the inherent drama of a simple woman coming into her own identity within the tumult of a tragic time.”
“With this beautifully written first novel, Cirino brings a different perspective to life in Nazi Germany.”
“Eva’s Story” traces the outer limits of generosity. Cirino writes in lean, sensual prose, and the Egg Woman emerges as a fully imagined life on the margins of history.”—New York Times Book Review
ISBN 0-86538-097-X, $14.00 paperback
Going Through the Change
A brilliant first collection of short stories dealing with the often turbulent lives of the people who inhabit South Georgia.
“Sensuous, swift, full of sparkling twists, hers is a voice so rich that a single page can be thrilling.”
—New York Times Book Review
ISBN 0-86538-081-3, $19.95 hardcover
Evening Would Find Me
IN PRAISE OF KATIE ESTILL
“In modern-day Athens, a passionate affair with a Grecian painter leads a young American woman into a fierce tangle of relationships. A vital, absorbing story, well told.”
“Evening Would Find Me is a mesmerizing tale lit by stunning images and peopled by tender, troubled, unforgettable characters. With patience and loving attention to detail, Katie Estill renders the mysterious love between one man and two women, the failure of language to contain or assuage fear, and the ultimate betrayal of madness.”
—Melanie Rae Thon
“As sensual and erotic a portrait of madness and obsessive love as I have ever read. Spellbinding.”
“Evening Would Find Me is a very capably written, totally engaging debut title that fully documents Katie Estill as a major literary talent…”
—The Midwest Book Review
May, 0-86538-098-8, $21.95 cloth
This Is a Voice from Your Past
New & Selected Stories
By Merrill Joan Gerber
“Merrill Joan Gerber’s eye in these powerful stories is directed toward the elusiveness of the inner life without ever sacrificing full and shrewd observation of the outer life. Her touch is light, but the matter is the pain, remorse, and debris of life as it really is—illuminated by humor, honesty and a clarifying and moving humanity.”
“In the very special ambience of Merrill Joan Gerber’s accomplished stories, daily life is infused with the sinister, even the macabre. Her formidable gift for blending existential dread and dry wit makes the reader shiver, smile, glance warily over her shoulder, and most of all eagerly read on.”
—Lynne Sharon Schwartz
“Most of these stories are told in the voice of a woman, sometimes young, sometimes older, but always vividly drawn. The narrative unfolds crisply, hurling us from one situation to another to arrive at a gratifying, if sad, conclusion. I really didn’t want this book to end.” —Maxine Kumin
“These thirteen stories that seem at first to be reports from the warm center of familiar life, startle us—as her work has reliably jolted us for years—with their cool, refracted glimpses of our secret selves””
ISBN 0-86538-113-5, $23.95
You Don’t Know What Love Is
Contemporary American Love Stories
Compiled, with a preface, by Ron Hansen. Twenty-four stories about love of all kinds. Includes Margaret Atwood, Charles Baxter, Raymond Carver, Andre Dubus, Amy Hempel, John Irving, David Leavitt, Bobbie Ann Mason, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, and Tobias Wolff.
ISBN 0-86538-060-0, $13.95, paperback
We Never Speak of It
Poems by Jana Harris
“The work of Jana Harris is unique in American writing. She has always had a voice of true grit—sometimes harsh, sometimes funny, always close to the bone, tart, and indomitable.”
ISBN 0-86538-109-7, $14.95 paperback
A Garden of Demons
A Novel by Edward Hower
“Edward Hower writes in a fine, assured prose with an absolute command of character and setting. Like all the best novelists he creates people whose lives exemplify the pressures of history in a world where certainties, new and old, ruthlessly compete.… Hower is a fine storyteller and a first-rate writer, evoking today’s Sri Lanka in a fast-moving and affecting tale.”—Robert Stone
“Edward Hower has a powerful sympathetic gift for understanding other cultures, and so captures wonderfully the beauty and menace of modern Sri Lanka. The novel’s point of view, that of the little girl Lila, is perfectly chosen to mirror the reader’s attempt to understand the undercurrents of a troubled and fascinating society.”—Diane Johnson
“A Garden of Demons is a patient, lavish delineation of a jungle haven in which a visually avid young girl grows up, urgently trying to fathom enigmas both domestic and natural…. The novel’s fusion of the exotic and the universal is both grave and debonair, and Sri Lanka comes to life in extraordinary vignettes.”—Paul West
ISBN 0-86538-106-2, $22.95, cloth
The Storms of May
A Novel by Edward Hower
“In his most eloquent and deeply felt novel, Hower reaches with equal ease into the hearts of street kids, gang members, abandoned children and an adult couple who have set out to save them.”
“The Storms of May has power, importance, sweetness, and pace. I greatly admire it.”
“…a natural for any reading group not wedded to middle-class dramas.” — Kirkus Reviews
ISBN 0-86538-307-3, $23.95
A Novel by Sheila Kohler
“Compelling and beautifully nuanced, this tale of a sister returning home to grieve, ponder, and investigate her sister’s tragic death, is told with a deft and subtle touch. There is a fascinating interplay here of the lovely and the brutal—a story gorgeously imagined.” —Elizabeth Strout
“Over Sheila Kohler’s lushly erotic South Africa falls the shadow of a sadist and psychopath, handsome, heartless, and disturbingly real.”—J. M. Coetzee
“Sheila Kohler’s novels unfold in hot places where beneath life’s languid surface seethe deviant, violent energies. Crossways may be her best yet. It is a perfectly constructed story of a man undone by his own nature, at war with a house of women and rapidly slipping into psychosis. It is a troubling book, exquisitely written and quite devastating in its depiction of a “superior” family in a profound state of crisis.”
ISBN 0-86538-112-7, $23.95
Stories from Another World
By Sheila Kohler
“There is a territory—fictional and psychological—that Sheila Kohler has now marked as her own. It is a real achievement. I am full of admiration.”
“Kohler’s themes of displacement and alienation cut to the heart as she quietly strips away the tales we tell ourselves in order to get on from day to day”
“Razor-sharp and as caustic as acid, Kohler’s portraits of the vanity of human wishes could strip the paint off a barn.”
ISBN 0-86538-110-0, $22.95
Twelve stories set for the most part in Louisiana and Texas. Starred reviews in Kirkus and Publishers Weekly.
“A profound and mature debut collection.”
“Bracing, original and peculiarly American, Mogan’s voice is mature enough to explore public themes and issues like abortion, immigration and race with an insight that springs from her fidelity to her characters.” —Publishers Weekly
ISBN 0-86538-082-1, $19.95 hardcover
A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates
“Cuts to the bone in its chilling effectiveness.”
— Publishers Weekly
“You cannot put this book away after you have opened it. This is that kind of book—hypnotic, fascinating, and electrifying.”
— The Detroit News
ISBN 0-86538-116-X, $13.95 trade paperback
I Lock My Door Upon Myself
A Novella by Joyce Carol Oates
“Beautifully crafted…written much like a folk or fairy tale in its patient, eerie delivery, this novella delicately peers into the heart.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“Love and death and martyrdom in a turn-of-the-century small town.… Possesses the power of legend.”
—The New York Times
ISBN 0-86538-108-9, $11.95 paperback
A novel by Joyce Carol Oates
“A powerful beam into the dark places of the soul.”
—The New York Times
“Oates’s novel is spellbinding, entrancing reading.”
—West Coast Review of Books
ISBN 0-86538-100-3, $14.95 paperback
Where Are You Going,
Where Have You Been?
Selected Early Stories
Joyce Carol Oates
With an Afterward by the Author
Twenty-seven stories selected by the author from six collections of her stories published between 1964 and 1977.
ISBN 0-86538-078-3, $12.95 paperback. Also available in hardcover, $24.95.
Joyce Carol Oates
With a Afterward by the Author
Oates’s fifth novel, originally published in 1971, focuses upon a neurosurgeon, Jesse Vogel, who was orphaned as a boy when his father gunned down his family before killing himself. Jesse’s life takes another tragic turn when he loses his daughter Shelley to the counterculture of the Sixties.
“The greatest of Oates’s novels.”
ISBN 0-86538-075-9, $12.95 paperback
By the Light of the Jukebox
Stories by Dean Paschal
The stories gathered here are wonderfully imaginative, erotically charged, unforgettable. Dean Paschal explores a variety of different worlds, like that of “Sautéing the Platygast,” where evolution and the culinary arts have run amok, or the hospital emergency room of “Genesis” visited by a badly hemorrhaging drug addict. Elsewhere a mechanically inclined boy is seduced by a clockwork maiden, and a woman metamorphosed into a python relives some of the erotic moments of her previous life. Paschal is a fascinating new voice in American fiction.
“By the Light of the Jukebox is an astonishing fiction debut. These stories by Dean Paschal are alternately tender and demonic, heartrending and chilling. No more disturbing first collection of American short stories has been published in recent decades.”
—Joyce Carol Oates
“There is danger, precision and real poetry in Dean Paschal’s work, elements that combine to make By the Light of the Jukebox an exciting and memorable debut. What Gide once said of Céline is equally true of Paschal: ‘It is not reality that he paints but the hallucination that reality provokes.'”—Richard Burgin
“The horror of these stories would be almost unbearable, I think, were the prose not so luminous. Unnerving and brilliant.”
“Full of longing and discovery, this wide-ranging, oddly tender assortment marks a strong start for a distinctively gifted writer.”
ISBN 0-86538-105-4, $19.95
On the Edge
A novel by C.E. Poverman
On the Edge is an unflinchingly intimate portrayal of a man troubled by his past, the stress of a passionate love relationship with his young wife, and the pressures of his morally ambiguous job. Through Poverman’s protagonist, we are exposed to a searingly candid picture of a legal investigator and the criminal justice system itself.
“On the Edge is cinematic, ultra-contemporary San Francisco noir.” —Laurence Goldstein
“On the Edge is the best-written suspense story that I’ve had the privilege to read in a long, long time.”
—Andrew M. Greeley
ISBN 0-86538-087-2, $22.95 hardcover
By a winner of the Iowa School of Letters Award for Short Fiction. Starred reviews in Kirkus and Library Journal.
“Poverman’s second collection of stories is a dazzler: wide-ranging—from sexual abuse to psychosis, Vietnam nightmares, and the inner lives of drag queens—Poverman consistently holds anguished lives up to the light and unsentimentally offers the possibility of redemption.” —Kirkus Reviews
ISBN 0-86538-076-7, $19.95 hardcover
Selene of the Spirits
A Novel by Melissa Pritchard
Set in the romantic world of Victorian London, Selene of the Spirits is the fascinating story of a beautiful young woman with psychic powers who acquires sudden fame as a medium in the spiritualist circles of the day. Just as precipitous is Selene’s fall from grace after the revelation of her love affair with a renowned scientist. Exiled to the Welsh countryside, she learns more about the spiritual, and carnal, side of life than she ever had in London, as she is transformed by the fulfillment of her love.
“A distinctive achievement, both as a historical novel and a romance. Fit to strand on the shelf with Flowles’s The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Byatt’s Possession.”
ISBN 0-86538-094-5, $22.00 hardcover
ISBN 0-86538-095-3, $14.00 paperback
Looking for War
Stories by Douglas Unger
“Douglas Unger’s stories are brave, smart, and beautifully written. This is a book to treasure, re-read, and cite. Unger is one of those rare writers, one we can learn from.”—Russell Banks
“Short story collections, like anthologies, tend to have an uneven quality, but Douglas Unger’s Looking for War manages to remain compelling throughout. Not all seven stories (plus a novella) are equally good, but all offer startling truths and insights about memory, love, loss, remorse and redemption. Unger’s stories seem sprung not from imagination but from necessity, a means of survival.” —San Francisco Chronicle
ISBN 0-86538-111-9, $21.95
No One Said a Word
Translated by Anne McLean
“With a sparseness that brings Hemingwayesque echoes and a minimalist emotional restraint, the narrator, Luz Goldman, skillfully guides us through the complexities of her own psyche, a steaming force that keeps the reader totally engaged till the touching end.”
—Elena Castedo, author of Paradise
“The novel’s toughness and irony surround a core of tenderness and loss, as if Luz were a kind of female Holden Caulfield….”
—Marion Winik, author of First Comes Love
“Compelling.” — Booklist
ISBN 0-86538-099-6, $22.95 cloth
Stories by Jeanne Wilmot
“Well crafted and bold, these are stories that haunt and unsettle.” —Library Journal
“Dirt Angel is a collection of crackling originality, edgy, fragile, and intelligent—sexy, too, if you don’t mind being a little scared by it. With her first book, Jeanne Wilmot, like her fast-talking, fast-walking protagonists, has hip-hopped onto fiction’s center stage, and she nails our attention there from the first page to the last. A remarkable debut.”
ISBN 0-86538-088-0, $18.95
New and Selected Conversations with Margaret Atwood
Edited, with an Introduction, by Earl G. Ingersoll
With Chronology and Index
From The Book:
“I don’t mind ‘being interviewed’ any more than I mind Viennese waltzing—that is, my response will depend on the agility and grace and attitude and intelligence of the other person. Some do it well, some clumsily, some step on your toes by accident, and some aim for them.”
“Let’s not pretend that the interview will necessarily result in any absolute and blinding revelations. Interviews too are an art form; that is to say, they indulge in the science of illusion.”
“I don’t think you ever know how to write a book. You never know ahead of time. You start every time at zero. A former success doesn’t mean that you’re not going to make the most colossal failure the next time.”
ISBN 0-86538-117-8, $16.95 original trade paperback
The Table Talk of W. H. Auden
These previously unpublished conversations on a wide variety of subjects present the personal, offhand, sometimes outrageous opinions of one of the great poets of this century.
“Alan Ansen’s conversations with Auden are brilliant, lively, completely characteristic of the poet, and a shining example of Ansen’s intelligent understanding and very accurate memory.”
— Stephen Spender
ISBN 0-86538-072-4, $15.95, hardcover
A Memoir by David Collins
“My Louise is an eloquent, impassioned account of love and loss, grief, rage, and survival. David Collins is bitterly, brilliantly honest as he tells the painful details of his young wife’s death and his own (and his little daughter’s) appalling confrontations with the multiple burdens of bereavement.”
—Sandra M. Gilbert
“David Collins has written a rich narrative of love and loss and grief. Full of humanity, My Louise is a necessary and compelling text.”
“In describing his young widower’s grief and the joys and difficulties of raising a motherless daughter, David Collins has written an honest, measuredly optimistic, and very moving book about the terror of death and the consolation of love.”
“This wonderful book is exquisitely written and painfully wrought. Readers will like Collins and love what he has to say.”
ISBN 0-86538-107-0, $22.95
Doris Lessing: Conversations
Edited by Earl G. Ingersoll
Lessing talks frankly to a variety of interviewers, including Joyce Carol Oates and Studs Terkel, about a wide range of subjects from Marxism to feminism.
ISBN 0-86538-080-5, $13.95 paperback
Margaret Atwood: Conversations
Edited by Earl G. Ingersoll
A gathering of twenty-two interviews with Atwood by other writers, including Graeme Gibson, Joyce Carol Oates, and Geoff Hancock.
ISBN 0-86538-074-0, $14.95 paperback. Also available in hardcover, $19.95.
Joyce Carol Oates: Conversations 1970–2006
Edited by Greg Johnson
ISBN 0-86538-118-6, $17.95 paperback
Women, Animals, & Vegetables
Essays & Stories
“Maxine Kumin’s practical yet sensual New England reflections are a gift to any lover of the country.”
— New York Times Book Review
“Kumin’s essays are so direct and her anecdotes so homey, you almost forget they’re the work of a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet…. Her essays concentrate on nature, but her stories set in locales as far-flung as Alaska, dramatize the intricacies of familial relationships and celebrate the toughness of women.”
ISBN 0-86538-084-8, $12.95 paperback
First Person Singular
Writers on Their Craft
Edited by Joyce Carol Oates
Twenty-nine essays by and conversations with contemporary writers of fiction and poetry, including Alice Adams, Margaret Atwood, Saul Bellow, E. L. Doctorow, Maxine Kumin, Reynolds Price, Mark Strand, Ann Tyler, John Updike, and Eudora Welty.
ISBN 0-86538-045-7, $9.95 paperback
by Joyce Carol Oates
Joyce Carol Oates’s fourth and most distinguished collection includes three full-length plays, Bad Girls, Black Water, The Passion of Henry David Thoreau, and eight shorter pieces, which have been performed in various cities throughout the country.
Bad Girls is the story of three teenage sisters who ruin the life of a man who comes between them and their single mother; Black Water is a dramatization of Oates’s widely acclaimed novel of that title; and The Passion of Henry David Thoreau is a portrayal of the turbulent life and premature death of one of the romantic heroes of American Literature. The subjects of the shorter pieces range widely, from a serial murder to a nightmarish visit to an adoption agency. In plays ranging from the realistic to the surreal, Oates convincingly demonstrates her mastery of the form.
ISBN 0-86538-089-9, $23.00 hardcover
ISBN 0-86538-090-2, $13.50 paperback
Where the River Bends
A Memoir by Barry Raine
“One night in 1981, Raine witnessed the brutal rape of his friend, Catherine, at a secluded turn of the Mississippi in New Orleans’ Audubon Park. In this haunting memoir, he explores the emotional aftershocks of that event and how it changed, if not defined, the next 20 years of the lives of everyone it affected. With sublime restraint and disarming honesty, Raine comes to terms with his relationship with his uneducated father, with the southern ideal of manhood, and with race and racism in the scalding cultural gumbo that is New Orleans.”—Booklist
“Where the River Bends combines the searing authenticity of nonfiction with the riveting suspense of a crime thriller. Peopled with a colorful cast of characters that would be the envy of any novelist, this memoir is more shocking than fiction in its careful documentation and its relentless, sometimes gruesome details. Raine proves himself a writer of impressive talent as he renders a uniquely painful American story into the stuff of myth.”
—Greg Johnson, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Honest, biting, and at times terrifying.”
ISBN 0-86538-104-6, $19.95
Talking Murder: Interviews with 20 Mystery Writers
by Charles L.P. Silet
A collection of twenty exciting and revealing interviews with American and British mystery writers, Talking Murder includes conversations with Elmore Leonard, Edna Buchanan, Michael Connelly, Walter Mosley, James Ellroy, Ed McBain, Andrew Vachss, Joyce Carol Oates, and many others. Each is accompanied by a photograph of the author.
“The way I write is I think you have a guy and the guy is going to the door and is about to open the door. He doesn’t know what’s on the other side of that door and neither do I.”
“I was really blessed to have been a journalist, and I miss it a lot now because every day was an adventure, but in journalism there are so many stories without endings, murders that go unsolved, missing people who stay lost forever, or corpses who go unidentified. One of the beauties and joys of fiction is that you get to write the last chapter.”
— Edna Buchanan
ISBN 0-86538-096-1, $14.00 paperback
The Other Mozart
“Another lost chord–like Fannie Mendelssohn, like Lili Boulanger–Nannerl Mozart has always loomed and flickered as the likeliest approach to the mysteries of her enshrined sibling’s heart. Only an imagination, a poet’s imagination, can articulate the chord to something like an overheard melody, for the burnt-sugar sweetness of which I am grateful to Sharon Chmielarz, who has emerged from the labyrinth of another self, an alien century, with these identifying trophies all strung on the one bitter red clue: her brother’s exemption.” –Richard Howard
“In The Other Mozart, Wolfgang’s gifted sister Nannerl springs to life–along with her century and her world–in poetry that is quirky, comic, poignant, deliciously artful, vividly real. Through her saga of promise and waste, ardor and loss, music and money, youth and age, I have come to cherish the Nannerl Mozart of these redemptive poems.” –Alicia Ostriker
“Wolfgang’s sister Maria Anna–Nannerl, as the family called her–is the subject of this absorbing biography-in-poems. Five years older than Wolfgang, she was his partner in a piano duo that toured Europe. When she reached adolescence, father Leopold withdrew her from performance. He recognized that Wolfgang, a phenomenal composer as well as performer, would be more lucrative as a solo act, while Nannerl could be prepared to marry well. She did, but not to the man she loved, and she never lost her love of music. She died in 1829; only her son, Leopold, survived her. In the poems, Chmielarz adopts many perspectives on her life, including Nannerl’s own (but excepting Wolfgang’s), and she touches on every important occurrence in her life. She writes in many forms–couplets, tercets, quatrains, etc.–but eschews regular meters and rhyme, and she neatly modulates diction to distinguish the personas of the poems’ speakers. She never rants about women’s oppression in Nannerl’s time because the poems so artfully dramatize it. Extraordinary.” –Ray Olson, Booklist
ISBN 0-86538-101-1, $21.95 cloth
Oh How Can I Keep On Singing?
With an Afterward by the Author
A vivid and memorable portrayal of the pioneer women who came to Washington’s Okanogan Valley in the late 19th century. Includes photographs. Winner of the Washington Governor’s Writers Award.
“The varied voices of farmers, Indian women, miners, laundresses, and school teachers tell their own harsh stories unforgettably.” —Annie Dillard
“A remarkable attempt to give voice to a group of women who have dropped out of history. Jana Harris has combined the resources of the poet and the scholar into something new.” —Marge Piercy
ISBN 0-86538-079-1, $9.95 paperback
The Generation of 2000
Contemporary American Poets
Edited by William Heyen
Thirty-one poets, including Ai, Wendell Berry, Norman Dubie, Louise Gluck, Robert Hass, William Matthews, Sandra McPherson, Gregory Orr, Marge Piercy, Stanley Plumly, Charles Simic, Dave Smith, Mark Strand, C. K. Williams, Charles Wright. With photos and introductory prose pieces by each poet.
ISBN 0-86538-043-0, $14.95 paperback
Joyce Carol Oates
The poems gathered here range from reflections on adolescent experiences with men (“Sexy” and “Flirtation, July 1953”) to sardonic musings on an American obsession (“$”); from an epiphany in a supermarket (“Tenderness”) to a chilling dramatic monologue by a convicted sex offender (“Like Walking to the Drugstore, When I Get Out”). Oates is at the height of her powers here.
ISBN 0-86538-085-6, $18.95 hardcover
The Ghost of Eden
These are dark poems, frontal and unflinching, but they are illuminated by the poet’s powerful love for the earth, and by the heightened, surprising joys forced from a new intimacy with her own mortality.
“This ambitious, compelling collection establishes Twichell as a major voice in contemporary poetry.”
ISBN 0-86538-083-X, $17.95 hardcover
The Snow Watcher
“Reading the poems in The Snow Watcher is like breathing cold air. Organized as a kind of narrative of her apprenticeship in Zen meditation, they are full of sharp observation, both of the world and herself, unsentimental poems with a sinewy intellectual toughness.” — Robert Hass, The Washington Post
ISBN 0-86538-093-7, $12.00 paperback
ISBN 0-86538-092-9, $20.00 hardcover
I’ll Be Right Back
Tom Wayman’s first collection of poems to be published in this country since 1980, I’ll Be Right Back reflects the author’s characteristic concern with love and death, the workplace and the marketplace, the city and the country. One of Canada’s foremost poets, Wayman exhibits the robustness, straightforwardness, playfulness, social consciousness, and love of the land of his countrymen. His poems range from the erotic to the angry, from the mysterious to the tender.
“Wayman appears a true successor of Whitman and the Beats, one who is his own man speaking the truth of his experience. His poems range from the erotic to the angry, from the mysterious to the tender.” —The Hudson Review
ISBN 0-86538-086-4, $12.95 paperback
I'm a Reference Librarian at the University of San Francisco's Gleeson Library, and I run the Joyce Carol Oates web site, Celestial Timepiece.