The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind

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9780312267094: The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind

Having considered the subject for more than sixty years, Jack Cady shares his knowledge of the American Writer in this wonderful and provocative book. The American Writer is both an open letter to young writers and a lovely overview for anyone interested in reading.

Cady traces with insight and passion the threads of sin and original good in American literature, examines the thorny question of race, and explores the fantastic in modern fiction. He looks anew at familiar writers like Hemingway and Steinbeck, and repeatedly focuses on storytellers who have fallen out of favor today.

Decidedly non-canonical and definitely not Politically Correct, The American Writer celebrates the nation's whole literary history from its roots to its crowning achievements. It sees the New World through experienced eyes. It is passionate, honest, and powerfully inspiring. It will be read and treasured for years to come.

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About the Author:

Jack Cady won the Atlantic Monthly "First" award in 1965 for his story "The Burning." Since then, he has gone on to publish eight novels and four volumes of short fiction, earning himself such honors as the Iowa Prize for Short Fiction, the National Literary Anthology Award, the Washington State Governor's Award, the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the World Fantasy Award. Born in Ohio and raised in Indiana and Kentucky, he worked a wide variety of jobs throughout the country, including jobs as a tree high climber, an auctioneer, a long-distance truck driver, and a stint in the Coast Guard. Over the past twenty-five years, he held teaching positions at the University of Washington, Clarion College, Knox College, the University of Alaska at Sitka, and Pacific Lutheran University. Recently retired from teaching, he lives in Port Townsend, Washington.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Imagine sitting next to an elderly literature professor on a plane or train, a kind and gentle man who regales his fellow passengers with interesting anecdotes and observations about American fiction. Now imagine that the voyage never ends . . . Cady offers commentary on all the major authors, periods, and genres of American literary history. A synthesis of literature and literary culture in the US, his account discovers unities and common ground among a wide range of disparate writers to demonstrate how they have all contributed to the creation of a literature uniquely American and distinct from the Eurocentric tradition which intimidated early American writers. Cady describes his volume as a guide for young writers and artists, a road map through the wildernesses of American literature and storytelling; its also conceived as an excursion into how literature has contributed to the development of a national consciousness. If this unwieldy contraption is any type of map, however, it unfortunately directs the reader to nowhere fast, to destinations murky and obscure. Covering hundreds of years of American writing and literature, from the Cherokee creation myth to the science fiction of Ursula LeGuin, from the sermons of Cotton Mather to the crime fiction of Dashiell Hammett, Cady offers bite-size morsels of information which, like sushi, leave one hungry just a few minutes after the meal. And its not just the authors who receive this slapdash treatment: Cady rushes through periods and explicates Zeitgeists so quickly that no depth of argument develops. The author addresses, among more topics than one could hope to consider in a lifetime, medieval storytelling, the influence of Puritanism on American fiction, the interrelationship of history and literature, racism, and television. The result brings down the heights of fiction into a plethora of sound bites. Though it should have stood as the crowning achievement of a lifetime of study by a master storyteller, the result dissolves into a haze of introductory snippets to great fiction. -- Copyright 1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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