Leah, New Hampshire: The Collected Stories of Thomas Williams

Overview

A posthumous collection of short stories, the majority of which appeared in either The New Yorker or Esquire. Williams was nominated for the National Book Award in 1960 for Town Burning and won the Award in 1978 for The Hair of Harold Roux. His last novel, The Moon Pinnace (1986), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 15,000 pr int.
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Overview

A posthumous collection of short stories, the majority of which appeared in either The New Yorker or Esquire. Williams was nominated for the National Book Award in 1960 for Town Burning and won the Award in 1978 for The Hair of Harold Roux. His last novel, The Moon Pinnace (1986), was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. 15,000 pr int.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At first it seems that all the characters in the 15 superior stories collected here are trapped: they're not exactly unhappy, but something is wrong with their picture. The lot of them--the son who takes a fearful plane trip to put his mother's affairs in order before she dies; three skiers on the same mountain trying to retrieve lost love--are caught in a very familiar snare, and it can only be called being human. These tales, set against the backdrop of a fictional but true-to-life New England town, show the late National Book Award winner's top form (a plainspokenness that uncannily reveals a breathtaking image or sudden truth) as well as his straining (several disquisitions on the ethics of hunting). When Williams ( The Moon Pinnace ) writes in ``The Survivors,'' about a boy's bicycle as tool of death, ``It was too familiar, not the instrument of the drama we wanted in our lives,'' he proves his particular strength--the ability to use the writer's sensibility to render significance from what we all have known. (May)
Library Journal
In his introduction to this posthumous collection of short stories by his former teacher and National Book Award Winner ( The Hair of Harold Roux , LJ 6/1/74), John Irving calls Williams ``very much a New Hampshire man.'' With his simple but eloquent prose, Williams indeed exhibits great sympathy for the people and land of his adopted state. But even more, he understands the fragility of life, its deep sorrows, its enduring beauty and richness. Perhaps the author himself puts it best in the story of ``Horned Pouts Are Evil'': ``The closer we get to nature . . . the more we recognize ourselves as part of its infinite patience, its cruelty and beauty. Without the knowledge of danger, how can we aspire to be alive? We must keep our senses quivering.'' Williams's heroes and heroines are, above all else, survivors, people who through a sense of loss come to understand, consciously or unconsciously, this great truth. Most of these 15 stories first appeared in Esquire or The New Yorker in the Fifties and Sixties. It is good, at last, to have them all in one place. An excellent choice for any public or academic library.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Doris Grumbach
"...Leah's hunters and husbands, boys and men, are actors in the great mythic dramas of a young woman in her nostalgia, guilt and atonement, conquest and defeat." -- New York Times Book Review
Bob Allen
"...Thomas was a writer of extraordinary perception who didn't just write New Englanders; he wrote about us all." -- The Washington Post Book World
Kirkus Reviews
The late Williams, National Book Award winner (The Hair of Harold Roux, 1978), is here well served with a collection of 15 stories—precise acts of attention, rich with detail of New Hampshire, of family relationships, and conflicts between ordinary people, and often concerned with hunting and fishing. Many originally appeared in The New Yorker and Esquire; most were written in the 50's and 60's. Some of the best include "The Snows of Minnesota," about a boy in the fifth grade forced to move with his parents from Minnesota to New Hampshire. After a snowstorm, the boy builds a secret snow fort with a series of tunnels and becomes traumatized when it's destroyed—in a lyrical finish, the sensitive father understands: "He was trying to make Duluth." "The Voyage of the Cosmogon," likewise, concerns a relocated eighth-grader who escapes from a suicidal mother having an affair with a married cop by creating a fantasy life related to a TV program. As in many of the pieces here, the ending is breathtaking: the mother decides against suicide only because there's something, maybe not love, between herself and her son—"a small thing among the thoughtless cruelties of the universe." "Goose Pond" is about a 56-year-old man who faces his wife's death by killing a deer with a bow and arrow, and who finally contents himself with "the dangerous journey down the world." "The Skier's Progress" gives comeuppance to a local ski hero, while "The Old Dancers" lyrically elbows an elderly couple, both married for the second time, to live through the wife's illness and discover a love stronger than habit. "Certainties," another hunting story, laments that "There are few dark places left onour maps...." John Irving introduces this collection, one of the most powerful of the year. With any luck, it will lead readers to rediscover Williams's novels.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555971915
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/1993
  • Series: Discovery Series
  • Pages: 285
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 7
Author's Note 15
Goose Pond 21
The Skier's Progress 35
The Survivors 61
Horned Pout Are Evil 79
The Snows of Minnesota 87
Paranoia 107
The Buck in Trotevale's 121
The Orphan's Wife 145
All Trades, Their Tackle and Trim 181
Voices 187
The Fisherman Who Got Away 213
The Old Dancers 225
Ancient Furies 245
The Voyage of the Cosmogon 257
Certainties 281
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