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A Fine Excess

The author of these various pieces can truly claim that he has lived “a writing life.”  George Garrett has been working—successfully—for decades as a novelist and short-story writer, as a poet, playwright, and essayist, and as an editor and satirist.  But there is even more to the writing life, which Garrett does not fail to address in all the fullness, and sometimes fulsomeness, of its postmodern reality.

He views his subject from many perspectives: the personal (in accounts, such as his interview with Madison Smartt Bell, that demonstrate his mastery of the literary trade and his own processes of composition); the generational (“How the Cookie Crumbles: Note on a Literary Generation”); and, finally, in terms of personalities and individual achievements (the “Other Voices” of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Eudora Welty, Fred Chappell, James Dickey, Madison Jones, and William Goyen).  Garrett’s breadth of coverage is impressive and satisfying, but there is a something more, an extra quality, that gives his pages a special lift.  Exactly what that something might be should be known to readers of this journal, Professor Garrett’s “Cowboys and Indians: A Few Notions About Creative Writing,” having appeared in the May 2002 issue of Chronicles.  In that essay, Garrett told some home truths about creative writing and the contemporary American...

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