What Goes without Saying: Collected Stories of Josephine Jacobsen

Overview

The recipient of nearly every major literary award in the United States, Josephine Jacobsen has enjoyed a career that spans more than six decades, from the publication of her first poem at age eleven to her 1995 nomination as a National Book Award finalist. What Goes without Saying brings together thirty of her previously published stories. In "Sound of Shadows," she takes readers through the double-bolted front door of a rowhouse, into the narrow quarters of Mrs. Bart, an elderly widow who has folded her life ...

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Overview

The recipient of nearly every major literary award in the United States, Josephine Jacobsen has enjoyed a career that spans more than six decades, from the publication of her first poem at age eleven to her 1995 nomination as a National Book Award finalist. What Goes without Saying brings together thirty of her previously published stories. In "Sound of Shadows," she takes readers through the double-bolted front door of a rowhouse, into the narrow quarters of Mrs. Bart, an elderly widow who has folded her life into her dark living room where the sole light in her "one room wide" world comes from the magenta- and green-tinged colors flashing on her television screen. We follow the muezzin's melancholy call in "A Walk with Raschid," an O. Henry Prize story about an intriguing ten-year-old Arab boy who guides a honeymoon couple through the Moroccan Fez. And the tautly written "Protection" begins with an exacting poetic image that is typical of Jacobsen's insightful prose: "Mica sparkles. The banshee ambulance is beating its mad bell. Like a reaped grassblade on a meadow of macadam, its object lies."

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Nation
Josephine Jacobsen writes masterfully, consistently, and better every year. She has a superb narrative gift and she sketches the people of her world with originality, inventiveness, and rare intelligence.
Washington Times
The author's short fiction has been rewarded with eight appearances in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection. The engaging What Goes without Saying collects 30 of her best tales, which first appeared in magazines ranging from Mademoiselle to the Kenyon Review.
National Book Awards
Josephine Jacobsen gives us a startling word-by-word gift. Her characters—human and animal—know edginess and exhilaration. She is unfoolable. Her judgment is lyric, wise, and daring. She looks all around, her angle of vision invariably original, able to switch from the periscopic to the circumferential.
Nation

Josephine Jacobsen writes masterfully, consistently, and better every year. She has a superb narrative gift and she sketches the people of her world with originality, inventiveness, and rare intelligence.

Washington Times

The author's short fiction has been rewarded with eight appearances in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection. The engaging What Goes without Saying collects 30 of her best tales, which first appeared in magazines ranging from Mademoiselle to the Kenyon Review.

National Book Awards

Josephine Jacobsen gives us a startling word-by-word gift. Her characters—human and animal—know edginess and exhilaration. She is unfoolable. Her judgment is lyric, wise, and daring. She looks all around, her angle of vision invariably original, able to switch from the periscopic to the circumferential.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Jacobsen-an octogenarian former poetry consultant to the Library of Congress (before the post was re-christened National Poet Laureate)-has also made significant contributions to the art of fiction-writing. These 30 short stories, all previously published, are small, highly polished gems often set in exotic locales like the Caribbean, Morocco or Guatemala. "The Inner Path" concerns an American journalist who loses his way on a country path in the Central American highlands and experiences a shocking encounter that will have long-term consequences. The untraditional family unit of "The Mango Community" is threatened by the political instability on the Caribbean island they've chosen to live on for a year. Because Jacobsen writes with a poet's sensibility, she's less concerned with the polemical contours of political facts than with the effects, great and small, those facts have on individuals. Other stories benefit from an appealingly comic tone. In "Nel Bagno," a woman about to go on vacation gets hopelessly trapped in her bathroom and discovers a wealth of gallows humor she didn't realize she had. Jacobsen's language is clear and filled with vivid images and quiet rhythms: a European in Morocco "looked as though he had had his blood painlessly extracted and then been sealed again"; as a hysterical housewife drives away from her home, "the trees parted, parted, parted before her and in a soft cloud on either side rose the dust." Although many of the stories have lullingly similar shapes, the characters are sharply realized and the situations they find themselves in are startling and evocative. (Dec.)
Library Journal
Perhaps best known for her poetry (e.g., In the Crevice of Time: New and Collected Poems, Johns Hopkins, 1995), Jacobsen has accomplished in this wonderful collection what Tobias Woolf once said he likes about short stories: "the power, the directness, the unity of impression, the ability they have to conjure up whole worlds in a few pages." These stories are reflective rather than brimming with action, but in each the reader becomes enmeshed in details of other people's lives: the Atlantic City girl who watches her mother's German friend disappear during World War II; an old man who suffers three strokes in "The Company" and sees his world shrink to a bedroom full of memories; a cricket-playing child who suffers permanent injury in "The Mango Community." Throughout, Jacobsen imparts a sense of both mystery and continuity to her characters. Eight of these stories were included in the O. Henry Prize Stories series; all 30 of them will strike the reader in some way. This book will be savored and remembered. Recommended for all short story collections.Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, Ind.
Washington Times
The author's short fiction has been reward with eight appearances in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection. The engaging What Goes Without Saying collects 30 of her best tales, which first appeared in magazines ranging from Mademoiselle to the Kenyon Review.
Review Washington
The author's short fiction has been rewarded with eight appearances in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection. The engaging What Goes Without Saying collects 30 of her best tales, which first appeared in magazines ranging from Mademoiselle to the Kenyon Review.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801863387
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2000
  • Series: Johns Hopkins: Poetry and Fiction
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 8.77 (w) x 8.77 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Josephine Jacobsen has written seven books of poetry, two works of criticism, and three collections of short fiction. From 1971 to 1973 she served two terms as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a post recently retitled National Poet Laureate. Her many awards include a 1994 Academy of the Arts citation; the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for service to poetry; and the selection of On the Island: Short Stories as one of the five nominees for the PEN-Faulkner fiction award. Other honors include a recent award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and eight inclusions of her storiesin the O. Henry Prize Stories.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

The Inner Path 1
Nel Bagno 11
The Glen 24
Sound of Shadows 36
The Jungle of Lord Lion 45
The Ring of Kerry 55
Protection 69
A Walk with Raschid 78
The Company 91
The Squirrels of Summer 101
Atlantic City 111
Late Fall 119
The Sessions of Mr. Cox 131
The Visitors 141
Mr. Meadows's Cup 148
The Pier Glass 166
Planes 179
The Night the Playoffs Were Rained Out 190
Vocation 198
The Couple 207
The Wreath 216
The Mango Community 223
The Phases of Venus 242
Motion of the Heart 252
Adios, Mr. Moxley 263
The Pear Tree 271
On the Island 280
Jack Frost 294
The Friends 305
The Edge of the Sea 320
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