Back in print in this deluxe edition, the former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s only collection of short fiction, now part of the Ecco Art of the Story series.
“Imagine a writer who combines Woody Allen’s sense of exaggeration—his ability to extrapolate situations to their funniest extremes—with the perspective and self-consciously elegant language of John Updike. That’s right, you’d have a creature who is never very likely to walk the face of the earth. But Strand, the prize-winning Canadian-born poet and professor of English at the University of Utah, comes close to that model. The stories in this first collection, originally printed in Vogue, The New Yorker, and Michigan Quarterly Review, vary widely. Yet several of them share a spirit of stubborn determination in the pursuit of idiosyncratic meanings of happiness. In one story a U.S. President noted mainly for reading Chekhov to his Cabinet and creating the ‘National Museum of Weather,’ resigns. . . . Another tale is about a man who says he has been married five times and in love six, with none of the 11 experiences overlapping. Then there’s Stanley R., the killer poet who murders his parents so he can write a poem about the experience. . . . . Few writers, though, can manage to make one of man’s favorite pastimes’ futile longing seem to be so hilarious, touching and ultimately admirable as Strand does, in very succinct ways” (People magazine).