This gathering of short fiction and essays traces the artistic rsum of Ed McClanahan, a masterful Southern stylist working under the influence of Mark Twain, Flannery OConnor, and Eudora Welty. Highlighting the collection is Grateful Dead I Have Known , a long prize-winning meditation about Jerry Garcia and the fanatical devotion of his fans. Also collected here for the first time are McClanahans earliest short stories, along with book reviews, lost chapters of The Natural Man , and a substantial afterword to Famous People I Have Known . His recollections of famous friends and fellow travelers form an integral part of this book. He joins his buddy Ken Kesey in a bus-journey reunion with other gray-haired Merry Pranksters, and he pokes fun at his own graduate-school flamboyance in a touching remembrance of his mentor Wallace Stegner. This gathering of short fiction and essays traces the artistic development of the masterful southern stylist and storyteller Ed McClanahan. In this autobiography of a voice, the earliest stories are gloomy tales of existential despair, full of flashing neon signs, fly-specked mirrors, and characters whose eyes could be likened in various ways to black holes. How McClanahans writing evolved into the ribald comedy for which he is well-loved is a mystery unveiled in his fascinating ars poetica, Empathy Follows Sympathy . McClanahans nonfiction includes firsthand accounts of the hippie culture into which he dove headlong upon arriving in California. From that era comes Grateful Dead I Have Known , a long prize-winning meditation about Jerry Garcia and the fanatical devotion of his fans; an insiders portrait of beat hero Neal Cassady; and a chronicle of a bus-journey reunion with buddy Ken Kesey and other Merry Pranksters--long-hairs now become gray-hairs. Whether reflecting on the once-radical urgency of a generation now aging, or a childhood that fellow Kentuckian Wendell Berry describes in his afterword as an ordeal of provinciality, McClanahan writes with warmth and hard-earned wisdom.
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Published September 12, 1998
Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction.