The Collected Fiction of Kenneth Koch

Overview

?It?s lucky for us all that you?re holding Koch?s collected fiction in your hands right now. Koch?s seasons on our earth were blessed ones and these traces, some of them among his last, are gifts.??Jonathan Lethem

Hilarious and profoundly moving, this volume restores to print all the fiction of the writer John Ashbery called ?simply the best we have.? Koch, who once characterized New York School writing as about ?the fullness and richness of possibility and excitement and happiness,? imbues his prose with humor, ...

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Overview

“It’s lucky for us all that you’re holding Koch’s collected fiction in your hands right now. Koch’s seasons on our earth were blessed ones and these traces, some of them among his last, are gifts.”—Jonathan Lethem

Hilarious and profoundly moving, this volume restores to print all the fiction of the writer John Ashbery called “simply the best we have.” Koch, who once characterized New York School writing as about “the fullness and richness of possibility and excitement and happiness,” imbues his prose with humor, wit, and a beautifully tender exuberance. The Collected Fiction of Kenneth Koch is a must-read for anyone interested in discovering what American literature might still hope to be.

Published simultaneously with The Collected Poems of Kenneth Koch (Knopf), Collected Fiction includes Koch’s innocent and rambunctious novel The Red Robins, as well as Hotel Lambosa, his book of semi-autobiographical short pieces inspired equally by Hemingway’s Nick Adams stories and Yasunari Kawabata’s Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. Fans of Koch’s unparalleled gift for comic invention will turn immediately to “The New Orleans Stories,” a cycle about the family of a small-time criminal, published here for the first time along with “The Soviet Room,” a gentle story of requited love at the end of the Cold War. Koch’s previously uncollected work includes a warm-hearted parody of a children’s adventure narrative and a story detailing the mysteries uncovered by an obsessive postcard detective. Together, the work of Kenneth Koch opens up a wonderful world—one where the pursuit of happiness is taken very seriously indeed.

Kenneth Koch was born in Cincinnati and served in the South Pacific during World War II. A poet, playwright, novelist, and Columbia University professor, Koch also published several books about teaching and reading poetry, including the groundbreaking Wishes, Lies, and Dreams; Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?; and Making Your Own Days: The Pleasures of Reading and Writing Poetry. He was the recipient of the Bollingen Prize and the Bobbitt Library of Congress Prize, a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of the Phi Beta Kappa Poetry Award.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of the six or so seminal members of the New York School of poetry (including John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara), Koch died in 2002 at age 77, best known as the author of Rose, Where Did You Get that Red?-a terrific book of poetry pedagogy. He left a huge verse oeuvre (the collected short poems is due from Knopf in November) and, like many other poets, a vast miscellany of failed and partially successful experiments in other genres. One of the two main components of this book is The Red Robins (published in paperback in 1975), a disjointed non-narrative epic that follows a group of airplane-flying men as they make short hops through Asia and encounter a plethora of strange characters. The other is Hotel Lambossa (1993), a series of 85 very short Borgesian "stories" that read more like telegraphic dream narrative than plotted fiction. Four shorter pieces round things out. While Koch's writing here is full of startling images and imaginative turns, it never really comes together-even if read for a kind of disjunctive expressism above all else-but the book gives further dimension to a writer whose place in American letters remains uncertain. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
If you like Koch's concise and witty poetry, you'll love his fiction. Included here are his long-unavailable novel, Hotel Lambosa, plus some uncollected works. Essential for any self-respecting literary collection. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566891769
  • Publisher: Coffee House Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2005
  • Pages: 394
  • Sales rank: 1,454,518
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

A poet, playwright, and novelist, Koch also published several books about poetry, including Rose, Where Did You Get That Red?. Soft Skull posthumously published The Art of the Possible, Comics Mainly without Pictures in 2004. A professor at Columbia, he won the Bobbitt Library of Congress Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

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Table of Contents

The Beverly boys' summer vacation 3
The postcard collection 13
The red robins 41
Hotel Lambosa 215
The New Orleans stories 357
The Soviet room 383
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