Blurbs


I list the following book blurbs and other endorsements Annie Dillard has written because they can be interesting and there is no other place they can be found collected. These are from book covers, not reviews or other articles. In the cases where the same blurb is used for an author's subsequent books, I have cited only the original source. If you find one not listed here or an extended version of one listed, please contact me.


Ascher, Barbara Lazear: Playing After Dark

"A warm, witty, very human voice that brightens any season."


Ayres, Elizabeth: Invitation to Wonder: A Journey Through the Seasons

"In life's hurly-burly, these exquisitely written reflections create space for all that is beautiful and true."


Ayres, Elizabeth: Know the Way: A Journey in Poetry and Prose

"Know the Way is a road map to those 'places of the heart' we all need to find. Highly recommended."


Baker, Will: Mountain Blood

"Strong prose writing in the tradition of A River Runs Through It--writing which does not strain to be literary, but which instead evokes a vivid world of people and events. These are the true stories of an American upbringing, Western in flavor, told with decency, integrity, and a loving respect for all sorts of people."


Bass, Rick: Oil Notes

"Rick Bass is the best young writer to come along in many years. Oil Notes is full of fascinating information and vigorous life."


Bernays, Anne: Trophy House: A Novel

"It was a continual surprise."


Berryman, Jeff: Leaving Ruin

"Jeff Berryman has taken an evangelical preacher, and turned him into the most extraordinary thing: a human being. . . . A remarkable first novel."


Bloom, Amy: Come to Me: Stories

"These are wonderfully engaging stories by a fine writer."


Bloom, Lary: The Writer Within

"Lary Bloom is a superb editor who believes that everyone has something to say and can learn to say it well. Aspiring writers should heed his advice."


Brackenbury, Rosalind: Becoming George Sand

"Becoming George Sand is a wonderful book--filled with wisdom, poetry, and imagery so brilliant I wish I could steal it. Maria is a character to love, whose loves are vivid, embracing, and revelatory. This is a treasure!"


Brazilian poetry (1950-1980) (edited by Emanuel Brasil and William Jay Smith)

"The renderings here are sure and lovely, powerful and pointed. Brazilian poetry, 1950-1980 shows how developed is the art of poetry in Brazil, how much we can learn by loving, by memorizing, these very contemporary, major poems."


Brown, Dale: The Book of Buechner: A Journey Through His Writings

"Buechner is great--boisterously physical--and it's high time someone took on his whole work in a book."


Brown, Rosellen: Tender Mercies

"Rosellen Brown's characters move me to tears. . . . Tender Mercies makes vivid and present the most real of real worlds: the one in which nothing is promised."


Buechner, Frederick: Peculiar Treasures: A Biblical Who's Who

"Frederick Buechner is one of our finest writers."


Burton, Gabrielle: Heartbreak Hotel

"Wonderfully funny."


Butler, Francelia: The Lucky Piece

"An excellent novel, vivid and wholly absorbing."


Cairns, Scott: Recovered Body

"Scott Cairns is one of the best poets alive."


Carroll, David M.: Swampwalker's Journal: A Wetlands Year

"David Carroll is a genius, a madman, a national treasure."


Casey, Dorothy: Leaving Locke Horn

". . . warm, beautifully written story of young men and women in a New England mill town . . . ordinary people, rendered in depth and with tenderness. Their moving story is unforgettable."


Chaudhuri, Amit: Freedom Song: Three Novels

"No lover of literature will fail to love these vivid novels by a master of prose."


Chee, Alexander: Edinburgh: A Novel

"Edinburgh has the force of a dream and the heft of a life. And Alexander Chee is a brilliant new writer."


Cherry, Kelly: The Lost Traveller's Dream: A Novel

"This is a vital, vivid world where men and women keep loving and losing and learning. There is Kate, who thinks about God and fixates on sex; Lindy, involved in fantastic triangles; and Nan, the controlling mind of the operation. Each is vulnerable, passionate, hard-nosed, and witty, and their world--this solid colorful ground--leads us into those fragile regions where imagination reigns, where science meets art, and where mind meets heart."


Clevidence, Carin: The House on Salt Hay Road: A Novel

"'I'd like to see this book return literature to its roots in beauty. Not sentimental, Clevidence has a keen eye for the loneliness of what is real, and for the energy of what is exultant, the white birds rising from the marsh."


Coggeshall, Rosanne: Fire or Fire: Poems

"Like Rainer Maria Rilke and like Charles Simic, Rosanne Coggeshall is a modern Metaphysical poet. Like Berryman, she makes of suffering a song. Like Donne, she explores with brainy wit the ramifications of Augustinian thought. But lordy, she writes like no one else. Some of these poems are absolutely stunning monuments. They are masterpieces."


Coggeshall, Rosanne: Traffic, With Ghosts

"These are brilliant, heart-rending poems, in a beautiful and important book. What a welcome blend of strong feeling and strong intellect! Rosanne Coggeshall is one of our very finest, most moving poets."


Cooper, Bernard: Maps to Anywhere

"Bernard Cooper is extremely gifted--one of our most exciting new writers. This book is fascinating."


Crawford, Stanley: Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico

"Walking the irrigation ditch with writer Stanley Crawford is a great pleasure. This is an evocative and absorbing account of an old and persistent way of life. He writes beautifully."


Dabney, Virginia Bell: Once There Was a Farm: A Country Childhood Remembered

"I read Virginia Bell Dabney's Once There Was a Farm . . . with the greatest pleasure. This austere memoir has understated power. Her spare prose compliments the hard lives she describes. It's a fine and strong book."


D'Agata, John: Halls of Fame

"A daring, utterly original book by a young writer of rare intelligence and artistry. In Halls of Fame, John D'Agata sniffs out the quirky corners of our culture and makes them revelatory. With wit and finesse, and writing that's as much poetry as it is prose, John D'Agata is redefining the modern American essay."


Davenport, Stephen: Saving Miss Oliver's: A Novel of Leadership, Loyalty and Change

"Some are called to serve in schools. Some are called to write. Davenport is called to both."


Davidson, James West and John Rugge: Great Heart: The History of a Labrador Adventure

"The story surprises and delights. The book is a solid joy."


De Milly, Walter: In My Father's Arms: A True Story of Incest

"An amazing memoir of incest. In a calm and beautiful voice, de Milly takes us on a horrific adventure, untwisting the wreckage of his youth. In the end, he stares down his father's soul with an honesty that heals his own. This book is unforgettable."


Doak, Frank: Something Like a Hoagie

"This is a fascinating, wonderful piece of writing--storytelling at its finest."


Doniger, Wendy: The Woman Who Pretended to Be Who She Was: Myths of Self-Imitation

"I couldn't put it down! Buy this book!"


Drexler, Rosalyn: Art Does (Not!) Exist

"Rosalyn Drexler continues to write some of the most intelligent, powerful, and winsome fiction being written today. She has written eight brilliant novels, and will go on writing brilliant novels. Recognition of her work is long overdue. I can't think of a writer more worthy of support: her fiction is infinitely valuable (I thought Bad Guy was a masterpiece), and she is committed to a lifetime struggle for excellence."


Drury, Tom: The End of Vandalism

"Brilliant, wonderfully funny . . . It's hard to think of any novel--let alone a first novel--in which you can hear the people so well. This is indeed deadpan humor, and Tom Drury is its master."


Egan, Timothy: The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl

"Here's a terrific true story--who could put it down? Egan humanizes Dust Bowl history by telling the vivid stories of the families who stayed behind. One loves the people and admires Egan's vigor and sympathy."


Ehrlich, Gretel: In the Empire of Ice: Encounters in a Changing Landscape

"A riveting story of Arctic people at the very top of the world--told with passion, precision, economy, and grace."


Ehrlich, Gretel: The Solace of Open Spaces

"Vivid, tough, and funny... Wyoming has found its Whitman... An exuberant and powerful book."


Endo, Shusaku: Deep River

"Shusaku Endo is one of the world's greatest living writers."


Farrell, Trace: The Ruins

". . . a narrative and stylistic tour de force. Combining linguistic inventiveness with a keen descriptive eye, Trace Farrell has given us a remarkable debut and a fine story."


Fence: A Biannual Journal of Poetry, Fiction, Art and Criticism

". . . our most exciting magazine."


Ferris, Timothy: Coming of Age in the Milky Way

"I think Timothy Ferris is one of our finest, most vivid writers. This book is clearly a major achievement."


Fickett, Harold: Mrs. Sunday's Problem & Other Stories

"... serious-minded stories of vivid, ordinary people ... people whose daily lives God touches. The concerns of these characters are our concerns. Harold Fickett has done a fine job of realizing their very human lives."


Finch, Robert: The Primal Place

"Robert Finch is one of our finest observers . . . I admire [his] essays very much for their strength, subtlety, and above all their geniality."


Fleck, Peter: The Blessings of Imperfection: Reflections on the Mystery of Everyday Life

"Peter Fleck's understanding of the paradoxes of life is wise and civilized. His words shine with an unusual spirit."


Flynn, Robert: Living with the Hyenas: Short Stories

"Robert Flynn is a master storyteller."


Gallagher, Nora: Changing Light

"At last, a novel about something. Nora Gallagher captures with dazzling beauty the lives of a woman and a man caught in the grip of history and our country’s shadowed past. I held my breath reading it."


Gallagher, Nora: Practicing Resurrection: A Memoir of Work, Doubt, Discernment, and Moments of Grace

"A stunning book about faith and the writing life; what I like best is that it gradually and unexpectedly turns into a love story."


Gallagher, Nora: Things Seen and Unseen: A Year Lived in Faith

"This is a wonderful book. I laughed more often than I cried, but I did both. Nora Gallagher is perfect company, both witty and deep, and she describes church life and spiritual life with absolute accuracy."


Garrett, George: The Succession: a Novel of Elizabeth and James

". . . a masterpiece of imagination and reality. Not since Chaucer has an English writer given us such powerful, vivid storytelling."


Gerber, Dan: A Last Bridge Home: New and Selected Poems

"I find it a beautiful and powerful book in every way."


Gerber, Dan: Trying to Catch the Horses

"Dan Gerber is one of our finest living poets. I’ve loved his powerful, thought-provoking poems for well over two decades, and I find his new collection, Trying to Catch the Horses, even more subtle and engaging than his previous books. There’s a penetrating and sometimes quirky sensibility at work here, handling violence and beauty with equal respect. In an unembellished language that calls our attention to the world and to its beings rather than to its own virtuosity, these poems credit the reader with intelligence and feeling and ring clear against an essential backdrop of silence."


Giardina, Denise: Saints and Villains

"A masterpiece . . . one of the handful of best books I've ever read."


Giardina, Denise: Storming Heaven

"This is the gripping story of a real conflict: coal miners and hired gunhands who fought the Battle of Blaire Mountain. Denise Giardina tells the miners' stirring story with a fierceness and passion. This is a fine, moving book."


Gibson, Graeme: Perpetual Motion

"Perpetual Motion is an important, powerful, moving novel; it is also wonderfully funny. . . . It is a vivid modern novel set in 19th century farmland.
"Graeme Gibson writes in a wholly original idiom, in a unique and engaging rhythm. His fiction is always significant, intelligent, haunting. It is high time he is much better known."


Giese, Rachel: The Donegal Pictures

"In Rachel Giese's Donegal we see nature's big, rough scale–a stony, bony landscape on which the tender people move."


God Is Love: Essays from Portland Magazine (edited by Brian Doyle)

"A great magazine, the finest spiritual magazine in the United States."


Goldbarth, Albert: A Sympathy of Souls: Essays

"Albert Goldbarth writes very well indeed. These are lively, brilliant, vivid, witty, and informed pieces about the real world."


Gonzalez, Ray: Renaming the Earth: Personal Essays

"Ray Gonzalez's essays have given me a new view of the Southwest. While delightful and full of surprises, his journey is heartbreaking as it evolves into a ritual of redemption."


Gonzalez, Ray: The Underground Heart: A Return to a Hidden Landscape: Essays

"A captivating, haunting, and beautiful work."


Guterson, David: Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel

"Here is a grand achievement: a compelling, serious, perfectly crafted novel of Puget Sound in the 1950s. The characters and the story and the setting make a fully formed, beautiful whole. I admired Snow Falling on Cedars and I could not put it down."


Hall, Meredith: Without a Map: A Memoir

"Without A Map tells an important and perceptive story about loss, about aloneness and isolation in a time of great need, about a life slowly coming back into focus and the calm that finally emerges. Meredith Hall is a brave new writer who earns our attention."


Hamma, Robert M.: Earth's Echo: Sacred Encounters With Nature

"Earth's Echo is a sacred and awe-inspiring book that is indispensable reading for anyone on a spiritual journey."


Hannah, Sarah: Longing Distance

"This is an extremely moving work. I'm struck by her intelligence of emotion, and her unmistakable voice. These poems are at once determined, vulnerable, and fierce; she looks it all straight in the eye. Shadow and lover beware: these poems will fix you. Sarah Hannah is a true original. I love this book."


Hardison, O. B., Jr.: Disappearing Through the Skylight

"Hardison's book fascinates. It is both informative and visionary."


Harris, Jana: Oh How Can I Keep On Singing?: Voices of Pioneer Women

"In these poems, Jana Harris has written an accurate and moving account of pioneer life a hundred years ago in Washington State. The varied voices of farmers, Indian women, miners, laundresses, and school teachers tell their own harsh stories, unforgettably."


Hawkes, Judith: The Heart of a Witch

"An unsettling glimpse into the human heart . . . a compelling read."


Hawkes, Judith: Julian's House: A Novel

"This is a great ghost story, and it is more than a ghost story. The magic of a place has never been more vivid; the story unfolds with clarity and power. This house will continue to haunt you for a long time. I admire Julian's House as literature; I can't forget it. I urge you to read it."


Hay, John: In Defense of Nature

"John Hay is one of the world's handful of very great nature writers; I love his books with all my heart."


Heat-Moon, William Least: Blue Highways

"Heat-Moon is a witty, generous, sophisticated, and democratic observer. His modesty, kindly humor, and his uncanny gift of catching good people at good moments make Blue Highways a joy to read."


Heaven Is Under Our Feet: A Book for Walden Woods (edited by Don Henley and Dave Marsh)

"What a grand bunch of writers come together here! This is an amazing assembly of interesting people, a kind of ideal party in the woods."


Henderson, Carol: Losing Malcolm: A Mother's Journey Through Grief

"In this powerful and moving memoir, Carol Henderson grows from innocence, through harrowing grief, to the deep knowledge that darkness is crucial to a sense of the fullness of life."


Hoagland, Edward: Compass Points: How I Lived

"Edward Hoagland is excitingly smart. Everything he observes is interesting because his 'vivid care' enlivens. Here are wives and lovers, his rural Vermont life among hippies, his Manhattan life among writers--and Africa, North British Columbia, California forest fires, traveling with the circus, and years of temporary blindness to boot. He is a witness; he is a writer of literature."


Hoagland, Edward: Hoagland on Nature: Essays

"The best of Edward Hoagland is the best in the land."


Hoffman, Alice: Fortune's Daughter

"One of the best novels to come out of the United States in a decade."


Holleman, Marybeth: The Heart of the Sound: An Alaskan Paradise Found and Nearly Lost

“This book has it all: an original, compelling story; lyrical, evocative prose; a clear-eyed and passionate storyteller. It has true transformative power.”


Huff, Robert: Shore Guide to Flocking Names

"What a fine book. I love the way the great and ringing lines of grand poetry ('Serene as Raphaels,' 'Moonful tides,' 'watery reaches,' and 'broad, faithful wings') fit right in among those witty lines and rhymes."


Huff, Robert: Taking Her Sides on Immorality (unpublished manuscript)

"What ……………………….…….…………………. bombs."


Huff, Robert: The Ventriloquist: New and Selected Poems

"Robert Huff writes with a kind of special, pained exultation that makes his poems distinctively fine. His caring for people so dominates his poems that his world is a series of heart’s landscapes, moving and mental and real. Huff’s is an excellent, controlled voice. He wears well. And, on top of all this, he swears well."


Huntington, Cynthia: The Salt House: A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod

"Cynthia Huntington is a terrific writer, and The Salt House is a beautiful book--luminous and keenly observed."


Huntington, Cynthia: We Have Gone to the Beach

"Cynthia Huntington's poems do what the best poems do--they move us profoundly and stir our deepest longing for beauty."


Hyde, Lewis: The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

"Absolutely interesting and original.... An exciting book for anyone interested in the place of creativity in our culture."


IMAGE: A Journal of the Arts and Religion

"Image is a realistic, valuable, and extraordinarily interesting magazine. Its writing and artwork is simple, direct, and without pretension--like the best of all American writing. It deserves generous suppor--and applause."


International Festival of Authors

"[Harbourfront] is a grand thing--for Toronto, for Canada, and especially, for literature."


Iyer, Pico: Abandon: A Romance

"Abandon is a great love story to read for joy. It is everything that I love: a scholarly Englishman whose subject is Sufism, a vagabond California woman ... and Pico Iyer’s knockout prose."


Johnston, Wayne

“His books are beautifully written, among the funniest I’ve ever read, yet somehow at the same time among the most poignant and moving.”


Kaminsky, Peter: Pig Perfect: Encounters with Remarkable Swine and Some Great Ways to Cook Them

"I love ham and I love this book."


Kaplan, Hester: The Edge of Marriage

"The Edge of Marriage introduces a remarkable new writer."


Kaplan, Justin and Anne Bernays: The Language of Names: What We Call Ourselves and Why It Matters

"Fascinating, significant, and consistently entertaining."


Kemf, Elizabeth: Before the Harvest

"These are fine poems, strong and sure. They are a real pleasure to read."


Kenyon, Jane: The Boat of Quiet Hours

"Jane Kenyon is one of the most powerful poets writing today."


Kephart, Horace: Our Southern Highlanders: A Narrative of Adventure in the Southern Appalachians and a Study of Life Among the Mountaineers

"Our Southern Highlanders is a wonderful book. I like it especially for its color and anecdotes. It is a classic, not only for its accuracy and breadth of insights into the people of the region, but because these people themselves are so interesting and strong."


Kessler, Brad: Birds in Fall: A Novel

"Once in a blue moon a book like Birds in Fall comes along: a wise, sly, and beautifully written novel. Kessler's story, ostensibly about a plane crash, turns out to be a much deeper, much richer retelling of an ancient myth. Mysterious, oracular, this breathtaking book contains multitudes."


Kessler, Brad: Lick Creek

"Brad Kessler's first novel is crisp, clean, beautiful. He captures a whole world on the page, and embodies the heart of his young heroine as if he'd been born to her. His book about love, tragedy, and electricity is a call for exultation."


Kidder, Tracy: Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World

"Here is a genuine hero alive in our times. Mountains Beyond Mountains unfolds with the force of gathering revelation. Like all Tracy Kidder's books, it is as hard to put down as any good and true story."


Kittredge, William: Hole in the Sky: A Memoir

"A grand and true story by one of our finest writers."


Ladner, Lorne: The Lost Art of Compassion: Discovering the Practice of Happiness in the Meeting of Buddhism and Psychology

"You've probably noticed you can't make yourself happy. Exercising compassion will not only get you through many a traffic jam, but it will begin building an unshakeable happiness. Dr. Ladner's written a wonderful book."


Laidlaw, Brett: Three Nights in the Heart of the Earth

"An extraordinary novel. . . The pages fairly bristle with intelligence and insight. You have to keep turning them to find out what happens to these people."


Landon, Randy Jay: Amy

"This is pure poetry, and often bares as much intellectual content, realized artistically, as one could wish."


Lapham, Lewis: Imperial Masquerade

"A vast and visionary tableau vivant of our society in all its empty splendor . . . [by] one of our most brilliant writers and thinkers."


Larsen, Deborah: The White

" 'Under the words,' Mary Jemison, the heroine of this radiant novel, says, 'are real roots and impending leaves. Under the wounds are sinews and bones.' Deborah Larsen has unwittingly descrbed her own fiction, under which must lie the clearest of eyes, the most delicate of hands. The White has both narrative drive and lyric texture. And a rare, embodied wisdom. What more could we want in American storytelling?"


Larsen, Jeanne: Silk Road: A Novel of Eighth-Century China

"Silk Road takes you into a fabulous, and very real, world. In prose that is by turns quirky or lyrical, lavish or clean as a marmot's whistle, it tells a story about the magic of the actual and the magic of the storytelling itself. And Larsen clearly knows her stuff: about Chinese literature, Chinese goddesses, even China's geologic bones. Read it for its playfulness. Read it for its epic largesse. Read it."


Laskas, Jeanne Marie: The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family

"Jeanne Marie Laskas is a wonderful writer, smart as they come, and a real joy to read."


Lehrer, Kate: Best Intentions

"Kate Lehrer is a fine, serious writer; she tells a fascinating, moving, and complex story. This novel marks the debut of a wonderful literary talent."


Leister, Mary: Wildlings

"Mary Leister is one of our finest nature writers and observers in the world today. . . . in these extraordinarily pleasant personal narratives, Leister details life and actions within 'her territory'--a square mile of Maryland with its typical eastern woodlands, fields, and marshes . . . there is nothing sentimental or awestruck about Leister. The writing is matter-of-fact and precise, personal without being emotional, and easily informative. For some reason knows everything I don't know and want to know. I find myself taking endless notes."


Lightman, Alan: Dance for Two: Essays

"Alan Lightman is one of our most consistently fascinating writers."


Liu Binyan: A Higher Kind of Loyalty

"Liu Binyan is one of the most interesting men alive in our generation. His vivid memoir--a journalist's brilliant account--tells his story and the inside story of these tumultuous times in China."


Maclean, Norman: Young Men and Fire

"Norman MacLean was one of our finest writers. Here the author of A River Runs Through It has given us the deep and compelling true story of Montana's Mann Gulch fire."


Mango Summers: Short Stories from the Key West Authors' Coop

"Key West has always lured writers to the dead-end of the Florida Keys chain. This collection is a testament to the newest group who continues to find creativity and inspiration among the island's back streets and alleys, moldy barrooms and marinas. It's a mix of romance and danger; it covers more emotional territory than a Florida panther in search of its next meal."


Mann, Sally: At Twelve: Portraits of Young Women

"Sally Mann is the real thing. Just look at these photographs! At Twelve is an American classic."


Mao's Harvest: Voices from China's New Generation edited by Helen F. Siu and Zelda Stern

"This is a fine, solid, fascinating volume--Jonathan Spence's lucid, valuable introduction through the poignant, patriotic stories themselves . . . I've been looking for just such a collection."


Marion, Stephen: Hollow Ground

"Stephen Marion is an astonishingly wise writer, and Hollow Ground is an impressive, mature first novel, told with such clarity and beauty that it resonates with the power of the sacred. With prose taut and spare as poetry, Hollow Ground is one of the most notable debuts in recent memory."


Martini, John

"The formidable sobriety and endurance of the material, rough edge steel, makes an interesting conjunction with the figures. Some of the figures are whimsical, whimsical man endures. Man with brain, and brain conceives, rolling along on wheels of his own devising. Man and woman arise elongate from their steel bases, as at the first day of creation, both vulnerable and durable. Clearly they are made for each other. The very blunt-contoured figures explore the conceptualization further, what is man that you art mindful of him? The measure of all things, in this work. There's also an interesting friction between nature and culture.

"The (wonderful) bird in the (wonderful) strongly-rooted tree; that's nature. Man and woman arising like thoughts from matter? Nature . . . but soon man and woman come up with culture; wheels and steel wing and levers. All the simplified human forms in the work raise every question, not least that of beauty. Why do I find these beautiful in their power? The surface execution shows ever -more-sure mastery. But I like them metaphysically. I prize a little card, from a place card, on which you drew the man's head, mouth open, lying dismembered, in profile and in a state of Beckett like post utterance . . . and next to it you or someone else wrote the words "Harold Bloom"

"Good old existentialism. (It's what I try to do)

"Why did the chicken cross the mind?" (from "Annie Dillard on John Martini" (dated March, 2001 on the Lowe Gallery site)


Matters of Life and Death: New American Stories edited by Tobias Wolff

"Wonderful stories . . . This is the sound of today's fiction."


Matthiessen, Peter: Shadow Country

"The trilogy--novel by novel, sentence by sentence--is a masterpiece of world literature. I would give it every prize and award on earth."


McConkey, James: Court of Memory

"This is a wonderful book. McConkey makes of his own life ... a thoughtful, powerful, and vivid work of art."


McConkey, James: To a Distant Island

"One of our finest writers."


McEnroe, Colin: Swimming Chickens: And Other Half-Breasted Accounts of the Animal World

"Colin McEnroe is one of the funniest people living. It's a nice, wild, educated, insane sort of humor--I can't get enough of it."


McKay, Jean: The Dragonfly Fling

[Still looking for this one.]


McPherson, Sandra

"Sandra McPherson has a miner's eye for translucent color in the earth, and a painter's eye for the 'hard catchable light' in the air. Tough-minded and precise, she has a genius of an ear."


Merton, Thomas: Woods, Shore, Desert

"This is a welcome addition to the Merton canon. It's one of the world's truly interesting journals . . . it shows Merton in his best and truest role: as a writer."


Metz, Don: Catamount Bridge: A Novel

"These tough and passionate New England men will stay in my mind forever. Don Metz tells a powerful and fascinating story."


Middleton, Harry: The Earth is Enough

"This is a grand true story and its wonderful old men are classic American characters."


Miller, Ellen: Like Being Killed

"In this novel, Ellen Miller hurls herself, along with her readers, into a world that resonates with moral complexity, startling anecdote, humor and good humor, brutality and compassion. Her prose is uncommonly clear, compelling, unaffected, and strong. The range of her narrative concerns--from Primo Levi, Nietzsche, and dead languages to bagels and peach pies--proves that she can make anything interesting."


Millman, Lawrence: Last Places: A Journey in the North

"This is a fascinating, powerful, beautiful book. Millman's a genius."


More Than Words: Contemporary Writers on the Works That Shaped Them, edited by James Calvin Schaap

"It's such a wonderful book. . . . it's like a fine conversation."


Morgan, John

"These poems are strong and full of carefully controlled feeling. They are tender and precise evocations of the moral and sensory life of man."


Munro, Eleanor: On Glory Roads: a Pilgrim's Book about Pilgrimage

"I read with greatest pleasure, nay, joy, this intricate and sustaining vision. By the end, it seems proven as the very architecture of our minds. More, it has altered my thinking."


Nattel, Lilian: The River Midnight: A Novel

[Still looking for this one.]


NEA--from Writing American Writers: A Millennium Arts Project

"The grant freed me from teaching and enabled me to write two books: a book of thoughts about contemporary fiction, Living By Fiction, and a book of essays, Teaching a Stone to Talk. The Boston Globe generously called the latter one of the ten best books of the 1980s; oddly enough, Outside magazine listed it as one of the ten best books of the past 25 years. Anthologists often use selections from both the books.

"I try to describe what it feels like to be alive in the United States. My books are about rural Virginia, about Pittsburgh, about the Pacific Northwest Coast . . . Literature has all my heart and mind. That the NEA supports literature in the United States enhances and confirms our cultural status. All civilized nations support artists; we know nations by their works of art."


Nelson, Maggie. The Red Parts

"Very rarely does a book come along that combines such extraordinary lyricism and ethical precision with the sense that the author is writing for her very life. The Red Parts is one of these. At every turn of this riveting, genre-defying account, Nelson refuses complacency and pushes further into the unknown. A necessary, austere, and deeply brave achievement."


The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary

"No writer, and no serious reader, can afford to live without the Shorter OED."


Newth, Rebecca:: Great North Woods

"What pleasure, what agility, what sweet and beautiful work!"


Noel, Christopher: Hazard and the Five Delights

"A fine novel. It is a wonderful evocation of adolescence in all its mystery and complexity. Hazard is unforgettable."


Norris, Kathleen: Dakota: A Spiritual Geography

"What a wonderful book . . . I enjoyed and admired it enormously. It's grandly funny, too, as part of its spiritual power . . . I loved the book."


Offutt, Chris: The Good Brother

" 'The Good Brother' is a work of a first-rate storyteller soaring at the height of his power."


Ogburn, Charlton: The Southern Appalachians: A Wilderness Quest

"Ogburn is as fine a writer as he ever was, and as exciting a mind."


Ondaatje, Michael. The Collected Works of Billy the Kid

"Wonderful. . . . Ondaatje's language is clean and energetic, with the pop of bullets. This is literature, art."


Payne, David: Back to Wando Passo

"Back to Wando Passo is like a delightful, slightly dangerous house party that swept me up for days. What I admired most were the characterizations, particularly that of the protagonist, Ransom Hill, a triumph. I adore Payne's wicked humor, his rich, inventive language, and his deep engagement with the moral tangle of American history. Though this book is Southern down to the molecular level, its ambition, scope, and range are universal."


Pett, Stephen: Sirens

"Patt tells the dark and vivid story of Carlos Cade with both toughness and lyricism--a powerful and original combination. This is a fine book."


Phillips, Jayne Anne: Black Tickets

"Jayne Anne Phillips writes a knockout prose. Hold on to your seats!"


Pollan, Michael: Second Nature: A Gardener's Education

"Usually when Americans have wanted to explore their relationship to nature they've gone to the wilderness, or the woods. Michael Pollan went to the garden instead . . . and he's returned with a quirky and pleasing book. By turns funny and profound, Second Nature marks the debut of a fresh and provocative voice in American writing."


Pool, Elizabeth and Eleanor West: God of the Hinge: Sojourns in Cloud Cuckoo Land

"Amazing, enchanting, timely!"


Powys, John Cowper: A Glastonbury Romance

"John Cowper Powys is a powerful genius, whose novels stir us deeply. A Glastonbury Romance is his masterpiece."


Pritchard, Melissa: Phoenix

"Melissa Pritchard is one of our finest writers."


Pritchard, Melissa: Spirit Seizures: Stories

"These are powerful, jolting stories."


Reece, Spencer: The Clerk's Tale: Poems

"Spencer Reece has a fascinating mind and imagination. The poems in The Clerk's Tale will exalt you."


Reed, Kit: Catholic Girls

"A complex, serious and fast moving story of four contemporary women and one wonderfully sinister boy. Kit Reed is one of our finest novelists."


ReGeneration: Telling Stories from Our Twenties (edited by Jennifer Karlin and Amelia Borofsky)

"In Regeneration you'll find a unique, artistic celebration of some of today's most exciting new voices."


Robinson, Jeffrey C.: The Walk: Notes on a Romantic Image

"Jeffrey C . Robinson's The Walk is a lively and intelligent omnibus for thinkers as well as for walkers. His evident love of literature is a genuine enthusiasm for all that is best in life."


Rodd, Priscilla A.: Surviving Mae West

"Rodd's spare but vivid prose echoes the beauty of the landscapes she writes about. She is a complex new voice rising out of Appalachia."


Ross, Cindy: A Woman's Journey

"Cindy Ross has put together a beautiful book, a wonderfully fascinating narrative and a fine batch of drawings . . ."


Rubin, Louis D.: Small Craft Advisory

"Small Craft Advisory is the wonderful story of Louis Rubin's many and varied small craft--his sailboats and motorboats--and the water about Virginia and the Carolinas that they ply.... This is a moving account by a happy man."


Rutledge, Fleming: The Bible and the New York Times

"This is beautiful, powerful, literary writing. Fleming Rutledge writes as a person who knows she is dying, speaking to other dying people, determined not to enrage by triviality."


Ryan, Kay: Flamingo Watching

"These are fine poems that inspire us with poetry's greatest gifts: the music of language and the force of wisdom."


Scherman, Katharine: Daughter of Fire: A Portrait of Iceland

"Here is Katharine Scherman writing with her usual authority. . . . Daughter of Fireis a personal narrative and an encyclopedic compendium; it is, surely, the last word on Iceland. Iceland's geologic and social hisotry are here, her arts (especially the sagas and Eddas), her government, education and economy, as well as the various and beautiful moods of her volcanic landscapes and seascapes. It's all here, rich and enriching."


Schwartz, Judith D.: The Mother Puzzle

"The Mother Puzzle is a spirited exploration of the pleasures and paradoxes of modern motherhood."


Scibona, Salvatore: The End

"A masterful novel set amid racial upheaval in 1950s America during the flight of second-generation immigrants from their once-necessary ghettos. Full of wisdom, consequence, and grace, Salvatore Scibona’s radiant debut brims with the promise of a remarkable literary career, of which The End is only the beginning."


Seattle Pacific University Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program

"This MFA program is fabulous. In fact, it is a bit of a coup."


Selzer, Richard: Down from Troy

"A vivid and stirring memoir. . . . His father wanted him to become a surgeon; his mother wanted him to become a writer. He became both. His storytelling fascinates, as it always does. Perfectly put together, this is another Selzer masterpiece."


Selzer, Richard: Letters to a Best Friend

"Richard Selzer has long been a favorite of mine. His stories are fascinating."


Shaw, Luci: Water My Soul

"Luci Shaw is one of our best writers. Read this wonderful book, and for heaven's sake pick up some copies for your friends!"


Shreve, Susan Richards: Queen of Hearts

"Susan Shreve is one of our finest novelists. This is a magical book!"


Silverstein, Jake: Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction

"You'll find pleasures on every page of this warm and funny book. I've never read anything like it. Nothing Happened and Then It Did: A Chronicle in Fact and Fiction is a masterful literary debut."


Simpson, Bland: The Inner Islands: A Carolinian's Sound Country Chronicle

"Bland Simpson is the perfect companion for any journey, especially this one. Witty, informed, energetic!"


Skipper, Louie: Deaths that Travel with the Weather

"This is a powerful, moving poem. It travels deep as liturgy; it tells a story; it makes a rhythm as beautiful as that of any poem in English. Louis Skipper is a fine poet."


Skipper, Louie: The Work Ethic of the Common Fly: Still Shots from the Journey

"The Work Ethic of the Common Fly is work of spiritual genius. There is nothing here that isn't every bit as good as anything the Buddha ever said."


Smith, Annick: Homestead

"Here is a woman to admire and love. 'You can fall in love with space and sky,' Annick Smith writes. 'A girl from Chicago can go west and find mountains.' In Homestead Smith gives us the whole vivid Montana scene: ranchers, wildlife biologists, poets and country bands, good neighbors, horses and trout. . . . A passionate story, beautifully told."


Smith, Jeffery: Where the Roots Reach for Water: A Personal and Natural History of Melancholia

"A beautiful, compelling, and haunting book. Jeffery Smith’s capacious embrace of natural and cultural history makes this a unique memoir, one that illuminates the dark corners of melancholia in our human history."


Smith, Lee: Black Mountain Breakdown

"Black Mountain Breakdown is like a country song. It is true and real; it is loving and sad; it has a country song's vividness, humor, sorrow, and real-life power."


Smith, Lee: Fair and Tender Ladies

"I'm bowled over by Lee Smith's new book. She is a genius and this powerful and moving book is her masterpiece."


Smith, Stevie: Me Again: Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith, Illustrated by Herself

"Stevie Smith's voice fills these pages with brightness, wit and insight. She is a wonder, and this fine collection reveals her own personal, quirky genius."


New Southern Poets (edited by Guy Owen and Mary C. Williams)

"Hooray for these poets and poems! / Southern Poetry Review has long been an enthusiastic supporter of new poetry. This anthology demonstrates the consistently high quality and diversity of its contributors. Their voices are lively and varied; their thinking is subtle and fresh. / I welcome this collection, and I know I shall turn to it again and again."


Spaugh, Jean Christopher: Something Blue: A Novel

"A wry and deeply moving voice. . . . I love it."


Spireng, Matthew J. Inspiration Point: Poems

". . . he shares with us the beauty--and ugliness--of man's interaction with other life."


Stein, Michael, M.D.: The Lonely Patient: How We Experience Illness

"No other writer has captured the essential truths about illness with as much clarity. As a physician, Stein is the perfect witness. His language and powerful insight will be of great comfort when we or anyone we love falls sick."


Stern, Gerald: Lovesick, poems

"Gerald Stern is one of our finest and best loved poets--a real poet of the people."


Stone, John: In the Country of Hearts: Journeys in the Art of Medicine

"As a cardiologist, John Stone knows the intricate mechanics of the heart; as a literary man, he suggests the mystery beyond the devices. He is himself a warmhearted man who fills his book with fascinating true stories."


Stone, Robert: Damascus Gate

"Here is our masterpiece writer, Robert Stone, writing his book of books, his millennial novel of the millennial place. . . . Here are Stone's most magnified, vivid, lunatic, and tender characters. Christopher Lucas engages us profoundly: a modest wit, who keeps faith in a faithless world. . . . Damascus Gate is a narrative of good and evil written in letters of fire."


Taylor, Barbara Brown: Mixed Blessings

"Sermons wonderfully intelligent, moving, and direct."


Taylor, Henry: Brief Candles: 101 Clerihews

"These are completely hilarious."


Thomas, D. M.: Selected Poems

"D. M. Thomas writes brilliant, deep, beautiful poems. 'To love you,' he says, 'is to learn to skate.' What is good about his poems is just what is good about The White Hotel: his unfailing ear for the power and beauty of written language."


Thomas, Elizabeth Marshall: Reindeer Moon

"The best book I've ever read about adolescence. . . Elizabeth Marshall Thomas knows human feelings so well, in all their joy and bitterness. And her literary judgment is flawless. Her wisdom shines forth and, as always, her prose is strong and sure."


Thomas, Keith: Man and the Natural World: A History of the Modern Sensibility

"Here is a rich human array, an anecdotal history of ideas and beliefs, a fascinating compendium of wonderful information about trees, birds, pet dogs, meat-eating, mountain scenery. Keith Thomas never sermonizes; instead he masses and orders a treasury of quirky facts."


Vital Signs: Contemporary American Poetry from the University Presses, edited by Ronald Wallace

"I think university presses . . . are publishing almost all the good poetry being written in English or translated into English."


Welch, James: The Heartsong of Charging Elk: A Novel

"Fools Crow, is one of the greatest, most absorbing novels of mainstream American literature. It’s absurd to stick it on a ’Native American’ reservation. Now, in The Heartsong of Charging Elk, the fact-based saga of an Oglala Sioux who joins Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show and ends up in Marseille, James Welch has once again written a major American novel."


Whalen, Richard F.: Everyday Life in Truro, Cape Cod: From the Indians to the Victorians

"Truro is truly a remarkable town, and Richard Whalen’s lively, authoritative history captures all the drama and significance of its four centuries."


Wiley, John P., Jr.: Natural High

"Wiley writes personal columns that are the highlight of Smithsonian magazine. Informed and informative, he keeps up with what is new and interesting in science. He is a lively and caring citizen of the planet. He tells stories; he keeps his good humor; he entertains."


Wolfe, Gregory: Intruding Upon the Timeless: Meditations on Art, Faith, and Mystery

"Gregory Wolfe's vision is the animating force behind Image, one of the best journals on the planet. Intruding Upon the Timeless, a collection of his pieces from Image, takes its title from a phrase of Flannery O'Connor. That's apt, because not since O'Connor's Mystery and Manners has there been such bracing insight on the pile-up where art and faith collide. This book will rev your engines and propel you down the same road."


Wolfe, Suzanne M.: Unveiling: A Novel

"With an imaginative vision akin to that of Dante, Unveiling probes the myriad layers of meaning in art, the human soul, and ultimately the great world itself. To read this novel is to be reminded that explorations at this depth are inevitably accompanied by uncertainty, suffering, and the piercing joy of revelation."


Wolff, Tobias: In the Garden of the North American Martyrs

"Tobias Wolff is a captivating, brilliant writer, one of the best we've got."


Woodward, Kenneth L.: The Book of Miracles: The Meaning of the Miracle Stories in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam

"All roads to the sacred run through the tricky terrain of miracles. For those making the journey, Ken Woodward's The Book of Miracles is a wise and delightful guide."


Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth: Vigil: A Novel

"The net of lives in this brilliant and moving tale drew me in, raised me up, and left me gasping."


Zahniser, Ed: Mall-Hopping with the Great I AM

"Surely God laughs, but I do hope Ed wears a crash helmet. Rightly dividing God and mammon shouldn't be such a glorious romp. These poems are a Blue-light Special on sanity."


Zaleski, Philip and Carol: Prayer: A History

"Prayer: A History is a grand and human compendium, fascinating on every page. It's witty, moving, and full of interesting facts and funny stories."


Zaleski, Philip and Carol (editors): The Book of Heaven: An Anthology of Writings from Ancient to Modern Times

"Everything Philip and Carol Zaleski touch turns to gold. Scholarly, witty, and wise, they know the field well and have keen eyes for what's interesting."


Zimmer, Paul: Trains in the Distance

"Over the years Zimmer's poems have consistently been full of good sense and buoyant humor. Now he has kicked it up some notches and, using his poetic skills, made this sad, funny, quite serious book of prose about trains, childhood, war, education, drinking, jazz, wooden sheds, grass, elephants, the moon, blues, horses, sickness, and so many other things that come together as a satisfying whole. It is a great pleasure to turn these lyrical, finely-written pages."