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William Maxwell: Early Novels and Stories

4.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  33 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
In 1934, at age 26, William Maxwell left small-town Illinois for New York City, convinced that life and literature were elsewhere. "I had no idea then," he later wrote, "that three-quarters of the material I would need for the rest of my writing life was already at my disposal. My father and mother. My brothers. The look of things. The Natural History of home... All there, ...more
Hardcover, 920 pages
Published January 10th 2008 by Library of America (first published January 1st 2008)
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Teresa
Nov 16, 2013 Teresa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This volume is getting 5 stars from me, because it is just about the only place to read Maxwell's first novel, Bright Center of Heaven. I was further gratified to have the volume in hand, because I'm so in love I wanted to keep reading Maxwell after finishing his first novel, and so I did, immediately turning the pages to his short stories. (I'd read They Came Like Swallows prior to buying this.) Once done with the first set of stories, I immediately moved on to The Folded Leaf, continuing a lov ...more
Rendi Hahn
Dec 17, 2014 Rendi Hahn rated it liked it
One of the novels in this book, They Came Like Swallows, was recommended in the Dec. 2014 Readers' Digest. The style of writing reminds me very much of Willa Cather - all of the pieces revolve around Illinois (just as hers are so tied to Nebraska), and the prose is highly descriptive, with lovely use of language. The pacing was a little slow for me, and some of the pieces left me scratching my head at the end. I might recommend reading one or two of the short novels, but the whole book was a bit ...more
Jeffrey
William Maxwell is best known as the fiction editor of The New Yorker, but his very own novels are worthy of greater esteem than they currently receive. The Library of America has published the first collection pf his early works and I must say that it is impressive. I was not aware of these books before I saw the collection so it was a rare treat to be exposed to a “hidden” treasure that needs more public awareness.

Maxwell should have been seen as a master novelist, I find his work better than
...more
Gary Land
Oct 25, 2012 Gary Land rated it it was amazing
Last fall I read the Library of America's edition of Maxwell's later novels and stories. Now that I have read the collection of early novels and stories I can say that he has become one of my favorite 20th century American writers. His fiction is largely autobiographical, though he states that he freely rearranges people, events, chronology, etc. His central concern is relationships, such as a family dealing with the death of a mother in the 1918 flu epidemic in They Come Like Swallows or anothe ...more
Jeanne
Jan 14, 2016 Jeanne rated it it was amazing
I finished Bright Center of Heaven - it feels a bit written out-of-time, as though it could take place at any time. It seems like there always are pockets of the country that don't keep up with the faster paced cities and unfortunately, the race issues haven't changed since Maxwell wrote this. (Not enough on the personal level.) This would make a fascinating film today - how relevant all these issues still are. The language is beautiful and the characters are so vivid, as usual.
Dan
Mar 01, 2016 Dan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: omnibus
Beautifully crafted writing to savor. Stories of human frailties, foibles, and fortitude set in small town mid-west America in the early 20th century. The volume itself -- four novels, nine short stories, and appendices all between two covers -- was also a work of fine craftsmanship: hard cloth cover, excellent binding, ribbon bookmark, enclosed in a slipcase. A total joy to handle and read.
Joel Hernandez
Jan 04, 2008 Joel Hernandez is currently reading it
So Long, See You Tomorrow was recommended to me many years ago by Alec Wilkinson, at Bread Loaf. It's a beautiful, haunting, near-perfect book. So I was thrilled when the Library of America delivered this last week. Have only read the little essay at the end, "The Writer as Illusionist," which says good things, with modesty and humor and grace you'd expect from Maxwell.
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10772835
William Keepers Maxwell Jr. was an American novelist, and fiction editor at the New Yorker. He studied at the University of Illinois and Harvard University. Maxwell wrote six highly acclaimed novels, a number of short stories and essays, children's stories, and a memoir, Ancestors (1972). His award-winning fiction, which is increasingly seen as some of the most important of the 20th Century, has r ...more
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