From Library Journal
A writer and lawyer, Masters (1868-1950) achieved readership, fame, and controversy with the publication of Spoon River Anthology (SRA) in 1915. Having grown up in rural Illinois, his setting for the Spoon River epitaphs, Masters wanted to write truths that were purely American. Freeing himself from poetic rules, which earned him much criticism, Masters created the 214 poems that make up the SRA. Masters published 54 works poetry, plays, essays, novels, biographies but none received the international success or critical attention that SRA did. Initially, Masters had a successful law practice (Clarence Darrow was an associate), but he chose to write for a living, without much financial reward or emotional satisfaction. His adult nature was not admirable; he was frequently an absent father, a womanizer (to put it charitably), and acrimonious in his dealings with other writers. Once he was publishing, he began a slow downward spiral. But his poetry speaks of another Masters; the truths found there are unassailable, aloft with dreams and aspirations. Russell achieves a splendidly multidimensional view of Masters, the complex man as well as the prolific writer, through the use of the author's manuscripts, diaries, business documents, and materials that relate to his two marriages and many extramarital affairs. Recommended. Robert Lee Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., IN
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Russell achieves a splendidly multidimensional view of Masters, the complex man as well as the prolific writer. -- Library Journal