John Gardner by Barry Silesky
Literary Outlaw

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 2 Critic Reviews



For a decade--from 1973 to 1982--John Gardner was one of America's most famous writers and certainly its most flamboyantly opinionated. His 1973 novel, The Sunlight Dialogues, was on the New York Times bestseller list for fourteen weeks. Once in the limelight, he picked public fights with his peers, John Barth, Joseph Heller, and Norman Mailer among them, and wrote five more bestsellers.

Gardner's personal life was as chaotic as his writing life was prolific. At twenty, he married his cousin Joan, and after a long marriage that was both passionate and violent, left her for Liz Rosenberg, a student. Only a few years later, he left Rosenberg for another student, Susan Thornton. Famous for disregarding his own safety, he rode his motorcycle at crazy speeds, incurred countless concussions, and once broke both of his arms. He survived what was diagnosed as terminal colon cancer only to resume his prodigious drinking and to die in a motorcycle accident at age forty-nine, a week before his third wedding.

Biographer Barry Silesky captures John Gardner's fabulously contradictory genius and his capacity to both dazzle and infuriate. He portrays Gardner as a man of unrestrained energy and blatant contempt for convention and also as a man whose charisma drew students and devoted followers wherever he went. Amazingly, Gardner published twenty-nine books in all, including eleven fiction titles, a book-length epic poem, six books of medieval criticism, and a major biography. Twenty-one years after his death, his On Moral Fiction and The Art Of Fiction are still read and debated in MFA programs across the country.

This is a full-scale biography of a writer who was, for ten years, almost bigger than life. It lives up to its subject magnificently.

About Barry Silesky

See more books from this Author
Barry Silesky is the author of "Ferlinghetti: The Artist in His Time", a biography of poet and writer Lawrence Ferlinghetti, as well as two collections of poems and a book of "short shorts," "One Thing That Can Save Us". Editor of the literary journal "ACM" ("Another Chicago Magazine"), he teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Published February 5, 2004 by A Shannon Ravenel Book. 358 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for John Gardner

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

drinking, rowdy parties, affairs with students, violent arguments with Joan, and frequent physical mishaps that put him in the hospital were the ever-intensifying distractions against which his nine novels, two collections of stories, and half-dozen books of criticism took shape and began to flou...

| Read Full Review of John Gardner: Literary Outlaw

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

In between, Gardner led an intense, active life, producing enormous amounts of fiction and medieval scholarship, writing librettos and children's books, and editing academic journals, all the while building a highly successful teaching career in which he mentored dozens of young writers.

| Read Full Review of John Gardner: Literary Outlaw

Reader Rating for John Gardner

An aggregated and normalized score based on 6 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review