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Comment: Condition: Excellent condition., Excellent condition dust jacket. Binding: Hardcover / Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company / Pub. Date: August, 2004 Attributes: 234 p. : port. ; 22 cm. / Stock#: 2043872 (FBA) * * *This item qualifies for FREE SHIPPING and Amazon Prime programs! * * *
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A William Maxwell Portrait: Memories and Appreciations Hardcover – August 17, 2004


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A William Maxwell Portrait: Memories and Appreciations + All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories + So Long, See You Tomorrow
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (August 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393057712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393057713
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"When writing about William Maxwell it is easy to make him sound saintly," declares poet Collier. As an award-winning novelist and short story writer and a 40-year New Yorker editor (working with such luminaries as Eudora Welty, John Hersey and John Cheever), Maxwell, who died four years ago at age 92, had much-valued friendships with younger writers, including contributors Donna Tartt, Ben Cheever, Alec Wilkinson, Richard Bausch, Shirley Hazzard, Edward Hirsch and Annabel Davis-Goff (who movingly recalls reading War and Peace to him in his final weeks). Though affectionate and sometimes slightly awestruck, this personal portrait of a scrupulously decent man is necessarily incomplete. While the emphasis is on Maxwell's later years as well as the Midwestern childhood that formed the basis for his fiction, other events, such as a suicide attempt, are only touched on. His fiction receives far fuller investigation: Charles Baxter examines the uniqueness of So Long, See You Tomorrow among autobiographical fiction, and Alice Munro describes a passage by Maxwell as "done with great care and intensity, so that we feel the intensity but not the care." The closing contribution fittingly comes from Maxwell himself. His 1955 college lecture "The Writer as Illusionist" illustrates the sensibility that endeared him as an editor to the contributors here.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Charles Baxter lives in Minneapolis and teaches at the University of Minnesota.

Michael Collier's The Ledge was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He teaches at the University of Maryland and is the director of the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.

Edward Hirsch has published seven books of poems, including Special Orders. He lives in New York City.

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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fourteen writers who knew and loved the incredible William Maxwell have written beautifully about him in this fine collection of "memories and appreciations." In addition to the editors, Charles Baxter, Michael Collier and Edward Hirsch, other writers included are John Updike, Donna Tartt, Alice Munro, Shirley Hazzard, Anthony Hecht, Richard Bausch, Paula Fox, Alec Wilkinson, Benjamin Cheever, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and Annabel Davis-Goff. There is also a previously unpublished speech of Mr. Maxwell's. It is almost as if these writers read each other's notes since they express practically the same sentiments with only minor differences as they each see him through the prisms of their own experiences. They describe him as loving, generous, kind, gentle, modest, dignified, thoughtful, tremendously interested in the lives of other people, never glib. The superlatives go on and on. Born in Lincoln, Illinois, in 1908, Mr. Maxwell apparently had an idyllic childhood until he lost his mother to influenza during the horrible epidemic of 1918. That single event, which he wrote about again and again in both his fiction and other writings, shaped the rest of his life. According to Mr. Wilkinson, when Mr. Maxwell's mother died, he "gave up any belief in a god who protected human happiness. No sensible person can fail to be astonished by creation, he thought, but the idea of an old man watching over individual lives, a being who judged, kept track, and intervened, who favored one person over another, a figure from a story-- such a version had no meaning for him." Ms. Davis-Goff says he believed in love, not in God, and that he wrote about the redeeming nature of love. Edward Hirsch in one of the most moving essays in the collection-- that made my eyes burn-- reminds us that Mr. Maxwell's religion was literature.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Bazzett on April 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I love the way William Maxwell wrote. Even now that past tense form, 'wrote,' pains me, ten years after Maxwell's death at 91. I never had the good fortune to meet the man, or even write to him, but I miss him all the same. Anyone who has ever read THEY CAME LIKE SWALLOWS or THE FOLDED LEAF must, I think, feel the same way. In a recent email exchange with a writer friend of mine who was lucky enough to once meet William Maxwell, my friend described him as 'a sweet man.' And there is certainly a sweetness about Maxwell's writing. Other writers who contributed to this tribute note a 'steel' in the man. Sweetness and steel? Yes, probably - and everything that might lie in between too. Read his books and you will see what I mean.

I applaud the editors of this collection of essays: Baxter, Collier and Hirsch. I enjoyed most of them, but some I liked better - the more personal ones, by Richard Bausch, Benjamin Cheever and Alec Wilkinson, and perhaps Shirley Hazzard. I like them precisely because they are more personal in nature. My least favorite essay here is probably the one by Ellen Bryant Voigt - too long, too egg-headed and scholarly. In fact, I think there is, in one of the other essays, a quote from Maxwell: "I hate scholars." Me too. I also especially enjoyed Hirsch's "Portrait of the Artist as an Old Man," particularly the 'some things he said' section. But perhaps my favorite line here came from Richard Bausch when he tried to describe the kind of 'exhilaration' he felt in Maxwell's company, in experiencing the much older man's 'humanity.' He said, "I wish I could explain this better. I simply can't." Richard, you explained it just fine. I so envy you your close association with William Maxwell. He was one of a kind, the like of which may never be seen on this earth again. - Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir BOOKLOVER
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Maxwell was a writer’s writer and, more than 10 years after his death, is barely read despite attempts, including an excellent two-volume set from the Library of America, to revive his works. That’s unfortunate as there are few American writers who offer Maxwell’s insights on love and loss. Maxwell was also a fine craftsman of sentences, paragraphs, characters and stories though his attempts at novels often underwhelm and the best of them, such as “So Long, See You Tomorrow,” often cross the line from fiction to auto-biography.

“A William Maxwell Portrait: Memories and Appreciations” is another attempt by his circle to give Maxwell some notice. From his perch as a “New Yorker” editor, Maxwell had ties with some of the leading writers of his era including the likes of John Cheever and John Updike. Maxwell also served as a mentor to many up-and-coming writers including Alec Wilkinson, Michael Collier and Donna Tartt. This book contains appreciations for Maxwell including a poem by Updike and often moving looks at his life and work from others including detailed reminisces from Wilkinson, Collier and Tartt. Perhaps the most moving piece comes from Annabel Davis-Goff who read “War and Peace" to Maxwell in his final days. There is also a speech from Maxwell on writers which is charming and insightful.

Still, while a charming book, I often felt like the writers here were preaching to the converted. They often fall back to appreciation of Maxwell as a wonderful man, loving husband, good father, wise mentor and talented editor. Maxwell’s books and stories are often shifted to the backburner. Despite his devoted circle of friends and proteges, Maxwell’s in danger of being a forgotten writer. This book could have stressed why readers should turn their focus to Maxwell’s works. Despite this missed opportunity, readers who adore Maxwell’s works will enjoy this book.
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