Distinguished author revisits fiction in new short story collection


BRATTLEBORO >> Green Writers Press announced that "Chicago Heat and Other Stories" by Clarence Major was signed at the start of the new year and was published in September. Having written more than eight novels, including "My Amputations and Dirty Bird Blues," alongside a dozen books of poetry, "Chicago Heat and Other Stories" is Clarence Major's second work of short fiction and first book with Green Writers Press.

"Chicago Heat and Other Stories" employs a gorgeous purity and simplicity of language in a series of masterful stories exploring human interaction. Each narrative voice comes forward all at once, individual and complete, without obstacle or complication, enabling the reader to see the characters and feel their emotions. Major does not shy away from the bitter or the harsh; we get to hear it all. Like paint on an easel he blends lyric harmony with moxie and the blunt with the beautiful. The imagery is completely accessible and generously given. Toni Morrison comes to mind. His work is like jewels.

"The subtle fire that ripples under this amazing collection — from its heartbreakingly strange "Chicago Heat" to its ingenious reinventions of the hard-luck love story — is Clarence Major's uncanny knowledge of American life, coasts to heartland, past and right now. All of our democracy is alive in these pages, wrestling with secrets, fears, and attractions, and each character's private struggle leads to startling revelations: about us. New work by Clarence Major is always a literary event, and the purely innovative Chicago Heat and Other Stories give us this treasured storyteller, and Kafkan psychologist, at the height of his superpowers." — John Beckman

Clarence Major is a prizewinning short story writer, novelist, poet and painter. As a finalist for the National Book Award he won a Bronze Medal for his book "Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998." Major was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Critics Prize and The Prix Maurice Coindreau in France. He is the recipient of The Western States Book Award, The National Council on The Arts Award, a New York Cultural Foundation Award, The Stephen Henderson Poetry Award for Outstanding Achievement (African-American Literature and Culture Society of The American Literature Association), the Sister Circle Book Award, two Pushcart prizes, the International Literary Hall of Fame Award (Chicago State University), the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Fine Arts, presented by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and other awards. Clarence Major is the 2016 recipient of the PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award for Lifetime Achievement. He is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of California at Davis.

Major will be reading on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. along with Bonnie Jo Campbell in the Robert H. Gibson River Garden for the Brattleboro Literary Festival.


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