By January 2, 2008 1 Comments Read More →

Too Good to Miss: William Maxwell

I can’t help but take a page from Nancy Pearl’s fabulous “Book Lust” series and recommend some out of the way authors for book groups to try.

One of my favorite 20th century American authors is William Maxwell (1908-2000). Maxwell was the fiction editor for The New Yorker for 40 years. He won the National Book Award for his novel So Long, See You Tomorrow. But he is most well known for The Folded Leaf and They Came Like Swallows.

My book group discussed They Came Like Swallows a couple of years ago. It’s about the Spanish influenza epidemic in 1918 and how it changes the lives of one family. Told through multiple character’s perspectives, it’s a slim book that packs quite a punch. The themes of the mother/son relationship, childhood, and loss are explored with Maxwell’s deft, precise use of language. There are sentences that sing. His writing has the kind of depth and resonance perfect for discussion.

If you are looking for a classic American writer, you can do no better than William Maxwell.

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

1 Comment on "Too Good to Miss: William Maxwell"

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  1. Brad Hooper says:

    Yes, yes, indeed. A marvelous fiction writer; one of my favorite novels of his is the National Book Award-winning So Long, See You Tomorrow. It’s short and pithy, and I completely identify with his usual setting, which is the Illinois town of Lincoln (which he calls by various names). I grew up very near Lincoln and have been there many times. Oh, too, don’t forget his short stories; he’s wonderful in that form.

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