More About the Author
Robert DeMott's most recent books are Astream: American Writers on Fly Fishing (Skyhorse, 2012) and Afield: American Writers on Bird Dogs (Skyhorse, 2010).
Astream is a collection of 31 original essays by American novelists, poets, and essayists--including Russell Chatham, Jim Harrison, Michael Keaton, Thomas McGuane, Ted Leeson, Margot Page, Kim Barnes, Craig Nova, Paul Schullery, Howard Frank Mosher, Pam Houston, Kate Fox, Jim Fergus, Charles Gaines, Chris Dombrowski and others--about the pleasures of fly fishing for fresh and saltwater gamefish. The book is dedicated to Nick Lyons in honor of his career achievements as an author and publisher of angling literature. Howell Raines, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of Fly Fishing through the Mid-Life Crisis, provided the Foreword.
Afield, co-edited with Dave Smith, is a collection of 23 original essays by American novelists, poets, and essayists--including Tom Brokaw, Jim Harrison, Thomas McGuane, Syd Lea, Scott Ely, Craig Nova, Bruce Guernsey, Peter Fritzell, Clyde Edgerton, Ron Ellis, Guy de la Valdene, and others--on the joys and tribulations of upland bird hunting and living with the setters, pointers, spaniels, and retrievers required to do it. Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Richard Ford wrote the Foreword.
DeMott is Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. He is a teacher, writer, critic, and internationally respected expert on novelist John Steinbeck. In 1984, he published the first book of a scholarly trilogy on Steinbeck: Steinbeck's Reading: A Catalogue of Books Owned and Borrowed, a look into the reading habits and reconstructed print library of the famous author. Widely referenced, Steinbeck's Reading is considered an essential resource in Steinbeck studies. In 1989, DeMott published Working Days: The Journals of The Grapes of Wrath, 1938-1941. This book was an extensively annotated volume of the journal kept by Steinbeck during the five months he was writing The Grapes of Wrath. Working Days was a New York Times Notable Book for 1989, one of the year's ten best books listed by the San Diego Union, and among the twenty recommended books for 1989 by Writers Digest magazine. Finally, DeMott's third book in the trilogy, Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art, was published in 1996. The book collects nine fully revised and updated essays published by DeMott between 1980 and 1995. Of this trilogy, eminent Steinbeck scholar John Ditsky writes in John Steinbeck and the Critics: "DeMott's trilogy is unique, not simply formalistically. No one else has done anything like it in terms of original coverage." The book was co-winner of the 1998 Nancy Dasher Book Award from the College English Association of Ohio. Writing in the Steinbeck Review in 2006, critic Stephen George called Steinbeck's Typewriter "the most in-depth treatment of Steinbeck's aesthetics."
DeMott also has written authoritative introductions and notes for three Steinbeck novels in Penguin Book's Classic Series--The Grapes of Wrath (1992, rev. 2006); To a God Unknown (1996), and Sweet Thursday (2008). He also served as chief editor for all four volumes of the Library of America's series on Steinbeck--Novels and Stories, 1932-1937 (1994); The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings, 1936-1941 (1996); Novels, 1942-1952 (2001), and Travels with Charley and Later Novels, 1947-1962 (2007), co-edited with his former doctoral student Brian Railsback. He consulted on and appeared in the Learning Channel's Emmy-nominated documentary film on The Grapes of Wrath (2000), in "Novel Reflections on the American Dream," a PBS American Masters series television documentary on American writers (April, 2007), and in a joint U.S. State Department-Georgian (Russia) documentary film, Steinbeck and A Russian Journal 60 Years Later (2008). A major critical summation, "Prospects for the Study of John Steinbeck," written with Brian Railsback, appeared in Jackson R. Bryer and Richard Kopley, eds., Resources for American Literary Study (AMS Press, 2009). In 2009, DeMott provided a new preface for the online version of Steinbeck's Reading, which is available on the Martha H. Cox Center for Steinbeck Studies website. His edition of The Grapes of Wrath was chosen as the university-wide text for Cornell University's 2009-2010 New Student Reading Project. It is also the edition of choice for the National Endowment for the Humanities' Big Read Initiative. In 2006, DeMott received the Trustee's Award from the National Steinbeck Center (Salinas, California) for life-long contributions to Steinbeck studies.
In addition to teaching American literature at Ohio University, DeMott has also regularly taught an introductory poetry workshop in the Creative Writing program. He has published poetry in numerous literary magazines including Cimarron Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Lake Effect, North Dakota Quarterly, Small Pond, Southern Poetry Review, Ontario Review, Southern Humanities Review, Tar River Poetry, Texas Review, Quarterly West, Spoon River Poetry Review, Windsor Review, and elsewhere. His first book of poems, News of Loss, was published in 1995 by Bottom Dog Press as part of a chapbook collection entitled Men and Women/Women and Men. His second, The Weather in Athens: Poems, was also published by Bottom Dog Press in 2001 in Two Midwest Voices, which also included poet Jerry Roscoe's Mirror Lake. That book won the 2002 Book Award in Poetry from the Ohioana Library Association. DeMott's third collection, Brief and Glorious Transit, a chapbook of prose poems, was published by Pudding House Press in 2007.
DeMott's continuing scholarly and literary interests have led him to publish Dave Smith: A Literary Archive, an annotated bio-bibliography and personal memoir (Ohio University Libraries, 2000), and Conversations with Jim Harrison (University Press of Mississippi, 2002), a collection of interviews by the author and screenwriter, best known for the novella Legends of the Fall. DeMott also provided the introduction for Jim Harrison: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1964-2008 (University of Nebraska Press, 2009), by Gregg Orr and Beef Torrey.
Recently, DeMott's life-long sporting interests have led to "Of Fish and Men," an essay on Steinbeck and fly fishing in American Fly Fisher, 32 (Fall 2006), and to Afield and to Astream, the collection of essays on bird dogs and on fly fishing, mentioned above. He is currently at work on a book The Far Field, a collection of essays about sporting pursuits.