Tell Me a Riddle, Requa I, and Other Works

Tell Me a Riddle, Requa I, and Other Works

by Tillie Olsen
     
 

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A century after her birth, Tillie Olsen’s writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. Collected here for the first time are several of Olsen’s nonfiction pieces about the 1930s, early journalism pieces, and short fiction, including the

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Overview

A century after her birth, Tillie Olsen’s writing is as relevant as when it first appeared; indeed, the clarity and passion of her vision and style have, if anything, become even more striking over time. Collected here for the first time are several of Olsen’s nonfiction pieces about the 1930s, early journalism pieces, and short fiction, including the four beautifully crafted, highly celebrated stories originally published as Tell Me a Riddle: “I Stand Here Ironing,” “Hey Sailor, What Ship?,” “O Yes,” and “Tell Me a Riddle.” Also included, for the first time since it appeared in the 1971 Best American Short Stories, is “Requa I.”

In these stories, as in all of her work, Olsen set a new standard for the treatment of women and the poor and for the depiction of their lives and circumstances. In her hands, the hard truths about motherhood and marriage, domestic life, labor, and political conviction found expression in language of such poetic intensity and depth that their influence continues to be felt today.

An introduction by Olsen’s granddaughter, the poet Rebekah Edwards, and a foreword by her daughter Laurie Olsen provide a personal and generational context for the author’s work.

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Editorial Reviews

Portland Book Review

"Even a century later, Olsen's writing is brilliantly measured and rich in character—a blend that few writers achieve. Coupled with essays by her daughters and granddaughter, Olsen's newest collection is a must-have for any reader."—Portland Book Review
Library Journal
★ 10/15/2013
As an activist and writer, Tillie Olsen (1912–2007) committed herself to social justice and championing the marginalized and oppressed. This wonderful book brings together a variety of Olsen's works, including both her fiction and nonfiction (Silences) that had been published separately in the past. Olsen's classic short stories such as "I Stand Here Ironing," "Tell Me a Riddle" (winner of the O. Henry Award), and "O Yes" are republished here. Other fiction such as the novella "Requa I" and journalism pieces related to political strikes during the 1930s are also included. This reviewer read Olsen's social theories in graduate school but was not as familiar with some of the fiction available in this collection. Although the material was written in the mid-20th century, the themes of maternal love, alcoholism, death, marital struggles, illness, family dynamics, and racism, as well as the injustices Olsen decries in her nonfiction work, still resonate. This title also contains an excellent introduction by Olsen's granddaughter, poet Rebekah Edwards. Daughter Laurie Olsen wrote the foreword and biographical sketch that honor her mother's legacy. VERDICT An excellent volume that will appeal to anyone interested in women's studies, social justice, journalism, and American short stories and fiction.—Erica Swenson Danowitz, Delaware Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Media, PA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803245778
Publisher:
UNP - Bison Books
Publication date:
09/01/2013
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
266,383
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.50(d)

Meet the Author

Tillie Olsen (1912–2007) was an activist, feminist, award-winning author, and teacher who won nine honorary degrees and whose short stories “Tell Me a Riddle” (winner of the O. Henry Award) and “I Stand Here Ironing” have been anthologized extensively. She is the author of the novel Yonondio: From the Thirties, available in a Bison Books edition, the nonfiction book Silences, and numerous published essays and is the editor of Mother to Daughter, Daughter to Mother: Mothers on Mothering.

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