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The Green Room, Autumn 1996


ISSUE:  Autumn 1996

As Townsend Ludington observes at the outset of his essay, John Dos Passos was a member of a remarkable literary generation that came of age in the 1920’s, and 1996 marks the centennial of Dos Passes’ birth. Mr. Ludington is hardly a stranger to the life and career of the author of U.S.A. Indeed, he is one of the foremost Dos Passos scholars in the world. He is the author of the biography John Dos Passos: A Twentieth Century Odyssey, and he edited The Fourteenth Chronicle: Letters and Diaries of John Dos Passos. His VQR essay about the writer arose from his belief that Dos Passos deserves some significant recognition on the anniversary of his 100th birthday. Mr. Ludington himself is Gary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he directs the American Studies curriculum.

It has often been said that American writers “burn out” at an early age, notable examples being F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway. But this is hardly the case with the subject of Mariflo Stephens’ piece about Mary Lee Settle, a “lioness in winter” who is still producing both fiction and non-fiction even as she approaches her eighth decade (she was 78 in July). Ms. Stephens is herself a writer of both fiction and non-fiction. She began her career as a journalist working as a newspaper reporter in Virginia, Florida, and New Jersey for 10 years before she began writing fiction. Her fiction has appeared in such publications as The Gamut, The Writer’s Eye, and The Walden Review. She lives in Charlottesville with her husband and two daughters.

It was 50 years ago this fall that one of Hollywood’s finest films first appeared, namely The Best Years of Our Lives. Philip Beidler finds The Best Years holds up remarkably well after a half century. Mr. Beidler is professor of English at the University of Alabama where he has taught American literature since completing graduate studies at the University of Virginia in 1974. He is the author of American Literature and the Experience of Vietnam; Rewriting America: Vietnam Authors in Their Generation; and Scriptures for a Generation: What We Were Reading in the 60s.

A resident of Champaign, Illinois, Elaine Fowler Palencia is the author of Small Caucasian Woman, a short story collection set in her native eastern Kentucky. Her fiction has most recently appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Crescent Review, Other Voices, and The Chattahoochee Review.

Although he is a political scientist by profession, Michael Nelson is equally a devout Christian; hence his essay about the spiritual odyssey of C.S. Lewis. A former contributing editor of The Washington Monthly, Mr. Nelson began his teaching career as a member of the political science department at Vanderbilt University where he taught during the 1980’s. He is now a professor of political science at Rhodes College in Memphis.

Mary Winifred Hood lives in South Carolina and has published poems recently in The Hudson Review and Poetry.

Susan Imhoff holds an M. F. A. degree from Warren Wilson College and has published poems in Saturn, Timbuktu, and The New Virginia Review. She lives and works in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A recent graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, Sam Witt has had poems in several magazines including The Georgia Review and Black Warrior Review.

Edward Kleinschmidt teaches at Santa Clara University in California. His VQR poems are from a recently completed manuscript of poems set in Italy and entitled Temporale.

Doug Anderson was the recipient of the Emily Clark Balch Prize for Poetry in 1993 and author of a recent book of poems called The Moon Reflected Fire.

Yehudi Amichai is one of the leading literary figures in Israel and a poet of international reputation, often mentioned as a serious contender for the Nobel prize in literature. Since 1955 he has published 11 volumes of poetry in Hebrew, two novels and a book of short stories.

Translator Ghana Block’s books include two collections of poems, The Secrets of the Tribe and The Past Keeps Changing. She is a professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at Mills College in Oakland, California.

A veteran New Frontiersman, Adam Yarmolinsky worked in the 1960 presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy and later helped recruit members of the Kennedy administration. He served as the special assistant to the secretary of defense from 1961 to 64 and was named deputy director of the president’s antipoverty task force in 1964. He has also been a professor of law at the Harvard Law School and a member of the Institute of Politics at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy School of Government. Mr. Yarmolinsky joined the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 1979 and is now the Regents Professor of Public Policy at that institution.

A prize-winning novelist and short story writer, William Hoffman has been the recipient of the annual short story prize from Shenandoah and the John Dos Passos Prize from Longwood. He won the 1988 VQR Emily Clark Balch Prize as well. His short story “Stones” won 3rd place in the Prize Stories 1996: The O’Henry Awards. He is the author often novels including Godfires and The Land That Drank the Rain.

The prolific Sanford Pinsker is now enjoying a sabbatical from his teaching duties as a professor of English at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.

A native of North Carolina, Brad Barkley resides in Wilmington with his wife and two children. His work has appeared in magazines including The Georgia Review, The Greensboro Review, Tampa Review and Cimarron Review. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and received Special Mention in Pushcart XVI. He recently completed a collection of short stories entitled Circle View which is due to be published this year by SMU Press.

The subject of Leonard Kriegel’s latest VQR essay is nothing less than his native New York city, “a city where life grates against nerves already edgy from the unwanted intimacy of boom boxes and blaring car radios.” Growing up in the Bronx during and after World War II, Mr. Kriegel was crippled by polio at age 11 and has had to deal with its aftereffects ever since. One of his books, Falling Into Life (Northpoint 1991) is a collection of autobiographical essays about being a polio victim.

Barbara Haas lives in Ames, Iowa, and her latest VQR story “Man on a Turquoise-colored Cloud” is the title story of a fiction collection whose pieces draw their energy / spirit / inspiration from musical compositions. “This particular story,” she writes, “draws upon the fancy and illusory Duke Ellington piano number of the same name.”

John Taylor is a freelance writer who also operates a drawbridge on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at Knapp’s Narrows to Tilghman Island. His essays have appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Sewanee Review, The American Scholar, The New England Quarterly, and elsewhere.

A native of Germany, Hans Schmitt came to this country on the eve of World War II and served in the U.S. army during that conflict. He later became an historian whose specialty was European history. He was a member of the history faculty at New York University before coming to the University of Virginia as a professor of European history. He is now a professor emeritus and has just completed a book entitled Inner Light in Outer Darkness: Quakers and Nazis.

David B. Mattern served with the Peace Corps in Africa before going on to Columbia University, where he received a Ph. D. in American History. He is now an editor of the Papers of James Madison at the University of Virginia. He is also the author of a recent biography of Revolutionary war general Benjamin Lincoln, a biography reviewed at the end of this issue.

After receiving his B. A., M. A., and Ph. D. degrees from the University of Virginia, Robert J. Norrell joined the faculty of the University of Alabama where he is now a professor of history. He is the author of Reaping the Whirlwind: The Civil Rights Movement in Tuskegee, a cowinner of the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award in 1986.

Jack Fischel is chairman of the department of history at Millersville University in Millersville, Pennsylvania, and coeditor of Jewish American History and Culture, an encyclopedia published in 1992 by Garland and coeditor of Holocaust Studies Annual of which five volumes have been published thus far.

Cyril R. Mill is a retired psychologist and international consultant. He lived for more than 25 years “inside the beltway in the suburbs of Washington D.C.” He has published many articles for professional journals in his field of clinical and organizational psychology and since retirement, has devoted much of his time to poetry, both in writing and in reviewing works of modern poets, but he is also keenly interested in modern politics.

Harry M. Ward is the William Binford Vest Professor of History at the University of Richmond where he specializes in Colonial America and the American Revolution. His books include The American Revolution: ‘Nationhood Achieved, 1763—1788; Charles Scott and the “Spirit of 76”; and Richmond: An Illustrated History.

THE VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEWStaige D.BlackfordEditorGregoryOrrPoetry Consultant

Advisory EditorsEdward L. AyersG. Edward WhiteLorna MartensJ. C. LevensonKenneth W. ThompsonPatricia Meyer SpacksPaul BarolskyRobert H. KretsingerJanna Olson Gies, Business ManagerCandace Pugh, Circulation Director

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