His Wife Leaves Him

Overview

This prose fiction novel, written by literary prizewinner Stephen Dixon, replicates the consciousness of a jilted man.
Stephen Dixon, one of America’s great literary treasures, has completed his first novel in five years — His Wife Leaves Him, a long, intimate exploration of the interior life of a husband who has lost his wife. His Wife Leaves Him is as achingly simple as its title: A man, Martin, thinks about the loss of his wife, Gwen. In Dixon’s hands, however, this ...

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His Wife Leaves Him

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Overview

This prose fiction novel, written by literary prizewinner Stephen Dixon, replicates the consciousness of a jilted man.
Stephen Dixon, one of America’s great literary treasures, has completed his first novel in five years — His Wife Leaves Him, a long, intimate exploration of the interior life of a husband who has lost his wife. His Wife Leaves Him is as achingly simple as its title: A man, Martin, thinks about the loss of his wife, Gwen. In Dixon’s hands, however, this straightforward premise becomes a work of such complexity that it no longer appears to be words on pages so much as life itself. Dixon, like all great writers, captures consciousness. Stories matter here, and the writer understands how people tell them and why they go on retelling them, for stories, finally, may be all that Martin has of Gwen. Reminders of their shared past, some painful, some hilarious, others blissful and sensual, appear and reappear in the present. Stories made from memories merge with dreams of an impossible future they’ll never get to share. Memories and details grow fuzzy, get corrected, and then wriggle away, out of reach again. Martin holds all these stories dear. They leaven grief so that he may again experience some joy. Story by story then, he accounts for himself, good and bad, moments of grace, occasions for disappointment, promises and arguments. From these things are their lives made. In His Wife Leaves Him, Stephen Dixon has achieved nothing short of the resurrection of a life through words. When asked to describe his latest work, the author said that “it’s about a bunch of nouns: love, guilt, sickness, death, remorse, loss, family, matrimony, sex, children, parenting, aging, mistakes, incidents, minutiae, birth, music, writing, jobs, affairs, memory, remembering, reminiscences, forgetting, repression, dreams, reverie, nightmares, meeting, dating, conceiving, imagining, delaying, loving.” His Wife Leaves Him is Dixon’s most important and ambitious novel, his tenderest and funniest writing to date, and the stylistic and thematic summation of his writing life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/16/2013
In his stunningly intimate 16th novel, Dixon delves into the consciousness of author Martin Samuels after the loss of his wife, Gwen. Paralyzed by shock and guilt over her death, Martin revisits the moments that make up a marriage and a life—from the couple's initial meeting through the birth of their two daughters and into middle age. Told breathlessly with few paragraph breaks, the novel assumes the shape of the inner workings of Martin's mind as he lingers in the past moving from memory to memory, conversation to conversation, sometimes chronologically but often not, unveiling the arguments, private jokes, intellectual banter, and tender moments that comprise a decade-long marriage. Through dozens of scenes both ordinary and remarkable, Dixon fully humanizes Martin who in turn does the same for his late Gwen, revealing passions, tendencies and flaws. A peek into the private world of their marriage proves the novel to be more than the sum of its parts as the reader is granted a panoramic view of the evolution of two characters and their relationship. Dixon excels at evoking the nature of memory with its lapses, intricately linked associations and emotional force. (Sept.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781606996041
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
  • Publication date: 9/7/2013
  • Pages: 600
  • Sales rank: 485,550
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He is a former professor of creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter. He is also a two time National Book Award nominee — for his novels Frog and Interstate.

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