From Thoreau to Arthur Miller for centuries writers have been escaping to personal cabins—some even hand built by the writers themselves—for the solitude necessary to slip inward.
Perhaps no single book details the excesses of the 1980s—in particular the debauchery of the New York City social scene—better than Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City (Vintage Books, 1984). The author’s commercially successful debut novel was adapted into a movie, starring Michael J. Fox and Keifer Sutherland, in 1988.
When I stepped off the plane in Aspen, Colorado, in June 1997, I found a 60-year-old Hunter S. Thompson waiting for me in a convertible Cadillac blasting Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" at full volume. I was terrified; he was giddy. He was playing the song because it was a part of the soundtrack put together for the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that was scheduled to hit theaters the following summer, and he could not have been happier.
For the past fourteen years, Hank Stuever, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, has published his unique brand of creative nonfiction in the form of newspaper articles in the Albuquerque Tribune, Austin American-Statesman, and the Washington Post. The subjects of his articles—haunted waterbed stores, plastic lawn chairs, beauty pageants, and discount funeral homes among them—hardly seem fodder for probing essays on the American psyche. But what might fall into the realm of light comedy for many writers takes on a lyrical profundity in Stuever’s work.
Next month, Norton will publish Stephen Dunn's thirteenth book of poetry, The Insistence of Beauty, his second offering since his Different Hours won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. In a writing career that has spanned three decades, Dunn has also been honored with the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the James Wright Prize from the Mid-American Review, and the Levinson Award from Poetry magazine, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between Frostburg, Maryland, and Pomona, New Jersey, where he teaches creative writing at Richard Stockton College.
Ballantine Books recently published You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon's long awaited debut novel about a pregnant teenager who gives up her child for adoption in 1966. In a review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Sara Mosley wrote that the novel "more than fulfills the promise of his story collection Among the Missing, which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2001." Chaon is also the author of Fitting Ends, originally published by Triquarterly Books in 1995. A revised edition of the short story collection was published by Ballantine last year. Chaon teaches at Oberlin College and lives with his wife and two sons in Cleveland, Ohio.
The appearance of Karen Volkman's first book of poems, Crash's Law, selected for the National Poetry Series in 1995 and published by Norton the following year, signaled the arrival of a startling and canorous voice in American poetry. In the introduction to the book, series judge Heather McHugh called Volkman "an analyst of love," and remarked that the book "bespeaks a mind attuned no less to the accidents than to the orders of a sensual life."
"I am annoyed when I'm reading through the 16th century and come across underwear that did not exist," said Margaret Atwood, who explained to a standing-room-only crowd at the Village Voice bookstore in Paris why she's a stickler for historical accuracy in her work.
With over sixty books published during a career that spans more than half a century, Robert Creeley is one of the most prolific and influential figures in American poetry. This month, New Directions is publishing Just in Time: Poems 1984-1994, which collects three of Creeley's previous books.