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His Wife Leaves Him

Details for this: Book
Author: Stephen Dixon
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 416
Dimensions: 6.5" x 9.25"
Colors: n/a
Year: 2013
Publisher: Fantagraphics
ISBN-10: n/a
ISBN-13: 978-1-60699-604-1
Additional Details: n/a

Price: $29.99

 


Stephen Dixon, one of America’s great literary treasures, has completed his first novel in five years. 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.

Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 in New York City. He graduated from the City College of New York in 1958 and is a retired faculty member of Johns Hopkins University. He is also a two time National Book Award nominee — for his novels Frog and Interstate. He still hammers out his fiction on a vintage typewriter.

38-page excerpt (download 152 KB PDF):

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Praise for What Is All This?:

"This mammoth collection presents five decades of Dixon: sex, frustration, and attempts at deeper communication, mostly missed. The 62 stories evoke neuroses, delusion, banality, and everyday absurdities in deceptively simple sentences... There are echoes of Ernest Hemingway and prefigurings of Raymond Carver's lower-middle-class minimalism infusing tales of scrappers and scrapers... Usually sublime, sometimes sloppy, and occasionally bewildering, these stories are a testament to an impressive career spent too much under the radar." – Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

"Stephen Dixon tends to get labeled as a writer's writer... and many critics seem to believe that Dixon's uncommon fiction, with its digressions from narrative norms, appeals mostly to fellow scribes. But Dixon... is actually a reader's writer in that his work piques curiosity and then explores various emotions and responses to satisfy it. Here, the curiosity begins with the title, which implies infidelity and impermanence, but the stakes are considerably higher for Dixon's protagonist, Martin, whose wife dies after a lengthy illness. Martin struggles with that irrevocable reality, examining and reexamining it through a series of internal monologues, detailed recollections, and imagined scenarios that reward careful reading." – John Lewis, Baltimore magazine

Praise for Stephen Dixon:

"Stephen Dixon is one of the great secret masters — too secret. I return again and again to his stories for writerly inspiration, moral support and comic relief at moments of personal misery, and, several times, in a spirit of outright plagiaristic necessity: borrowing a jumpstart from a few lines of Dixon has been a real problem-solver in my own short fiction. Please read him, you." – Jonathan Lethem

“Dixon is one of the few writers whose new work I will put everything aside to read, which is to say he is in the company of Alice Munro, Lorrie Moore, and Lydia Davis…. Put aside whatever you’re reading, and read him.” — J. Robert Lennon

“Startling candor, humor, and concern; every utterance promptly qualified; rigorous narrative economy combined with near-manic obsessiveness. Embrace [Dixon] and you will be held by a princely storyteller.“ — John Barth

“There is no better chronicler of our antic and anxious age than Stephen Dixon.” —Daniel Handler

“Dixon’s stories, strengthened by their unity, almost have a novel’s ability to develop character, to suggest a life outside the confines of the plot.” — Boston Globe

“Mr. Dixon wields a stubbornly plain-spoken style; he loves all sorts of tricky narrative effects. And he loves even more the tribulations of the fantasizing mind, ticklish in their comedy, alarming in their immediacy.” — The New York Times

“Some writers are able, in a mere 200 pages or so, to rewire your circuitry in a way that makes you unfit for your own life. Stephen Dixon is such a writer, and he can do it in a short story as well.” — Susan Salter Reynolds, Los Angeles Times



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