September 1st, 2014
Nora showing Dwight Allen how to use a computer

Nora Allen showing Dad how to use a computer

An eBook edition of my first novel, JUDGE, originally published by Algonquin in 2003, has been brought out by Dzanc, a small press in Michigan that publishes both new fiction and fiction that has recently gone out of print. (Among the writers whose books Dzanc has e-reprinted are Nadine Gordimer, T.C. Boyle, Ellen Gilchrist, Robert Coover, and Thomas Berger.) This summer, the Cambridge Book Review Press, in Wisconsin, published a story of mine called “The G.O.D. Club.” It is available as a Kindle eBook, and costs $2.99. Included with the story is an excerpt from an essay I wrote about my religious upbringing. Doug Moe, a longtime columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal, wrote an introduction, and Dale Kushner, the author of a splendid first novel called THE CONDITIONS OF LOVE and (full disclosure) a friend of many years, wrote an afterword.

Here are six books of fiction I recently read and loved: STILTSVILLE (2010), by Susanna Daniel; SEA CREATURES (2013), by Susanna Daniel; THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS (2013), by Claire Messud; THEY CAME LIKE SWALLOWS (1937), by William Maxwell; THE NAME OF THE WORLD (2000), by Denis Johnson; and THE AGE OF GRIEF (1987), by Jane Smiley. Each one of these books is beautifully made, and all of them are emotionally stirring. There is so much good writing out there, and then there is the good writing that cracks something open inside of you.

— Dwight Allen, Sept. 1, 2014

Leaving the Field

September 3rd, 2013

(an essay on Philip Roth, baseball, and quitting writing)

Home Page Test for Dwight

August 16th, 2011
Nora showing Dwight Allen how to use a computer

Nora Allen showing Dad how to use a computer

In October of 2011, Terrace Books, the trade imprint of the University of Wisconsin Press, published a new paperback edition of my first book, THE GREEN SUIT. The book is a collection of interlinked stories about a Kentucky family called the Sackriders–the father is a judge, the mother is a vitamin-pill-popping hothead, and the two children are mistake-prone English majors. The first eleven stories (originally published by Algonquin in 2000 and reprinted by Plume in 2001) are set in Kentucky, New York, Wisconsin, and on the West Coast, and they describe some aspects of American life between the early seventies and the late nineties. The 2011 edition has a new story, about Peter Sackrider, the book’s central character, which is set in Wisconsin, late in the first decade of this century.

The Algonquin hardcover edition of 2000 received a number of nice reviews but did not sell much at all. The Plume paperback came out the day after 9/11, and, to be brief about it, sold probably less than “not much at all.” These two editions were put out of print during the past decade. (The Algonquin edition, which outlasted the Plume paperback by a couple of years, lived longer than I thought it might.) Algonquin returned the rights to the book to me in 2010, and the University of Wisconsin Press, which had published my third book, agreed to reprint it.

Needless to say, writers are always happy to have their books back in print. It’s somewhat as if our children have come home from some faraway place, if only temporarily, of course, but for long enough that we can touch them, breathe them in, again. I happen to be partial to books made of trees, books that you can hold in your hands and sniff and dog-ear and scribble in and flip through and bookmark with a bookmark that your child made for you, but I’m pleased to say that THE GREEN SUIT is available in an electronic version, too.

— Dwight Allen

Sand Pies

August 30th, 2009

By Dwight Allen

It is late August, and I am on my porch, musing, drifting off, taking note of the beetles that are eating the hibiscus that the cats will eat when the weather turns cold and I have to bring it inside, hearing my daughter sing as she makes sand pies. In fact, the pie she has prepared just for me is ready to eat. Excuse me while I dig in.