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John Gardner: Literary Outlaw by [Silesky, Barry]
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John Gardner: Literary Outlaw Kindle Edition

3.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Length: 384 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1960s and '70s, when literary authors had the widespread appeal of rock stars, John Gardner was the perfect icon of the era: a highly regarded novelist who partied hard and rode a motorcycle. Silesky's briskly paced biography follows the controversial author of The Sunlight Dialogues and other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels from his rural beginnings near Batavia, N.Y., to the motorcycle accident that killed him at the age of 49, days before his third wedding. In between, Gardner led an intense, active life, producing enormous amounts of fiction and medieval scholarship, writing librettos and children's books, and editing academic journals, all the while building a highly successful teaching career in which he mentored dozens of young writers. At the root of Gardner's frenetic race toward literary greatness was, according to Silesky (Ferlinghetti: The Artist in His Times), a tragic childhood accident-his younger brother was killed by a 1,500-pound farm machine that John was driving-that left him with a deep sense of guilt and of his own mortality. In Silesky's book, the alcoholic, emotionally and physically reckless Gardner plows into his success at full speed and then summarily self-destructs. Drawing from Gardner's interviews, lectures and autobiographical fiction, as well as the testimony of friends and relatives, Silesky's account is well researched, though his dull, expository writing never delves deep. But Gardner's combination of genius and excess makes him a powerfully compelling character, and this book will pique renewed interest in his vast body of work.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–From writing to drinking to preaching for moral art to his death at age 49 in a motorcycle accident, Gardner's life was nothing if not mythic. This fast-paced, highly readable biography draws a clear portrait of the writer as a human being. The book opens with the accidental death of his brother, Gilbert. According to Silesky, this tragedy became a source of pain that Gardner would always carry with him and one that would continually impact his fiction. After a brief detour into family background, the book traces the major points of its subject's artistic, critical, and academic life. It spends some time describing his major works, such as Grendel (Knopf, 1971), but these explications are simplified and may disappoint those looking for a more critical approach. They do, however, work well for general readers and will hopefully inspire some to search out Gardner's once-popular books. While Silesky obviously admires his subject's enormous drive and intense dedication to his art, he takes care to show how destructive this passion could be. He includes substantial quotations from family members, colleagues, and rivals, providing a balanced look at the man and his actions. He proves the real Gardner to be significantly more compelling than any myth.–Matthew L. Moffett, Northern Virginia Community College, Annandale
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product details

  • File Size: 1440 KB
  • Print Length: 384 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1565122186
  • Publisher: A Shannon Ravenel Book; 1st edition (February 5, 2004)
  • Publication Date: February 5, 2004
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0094JB25A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,089,985 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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