Synopses & Reviews
The reemergence of James Allen McPherson, one of contemporary literature's bright stars, after a series of devastating personal setbacks that kept him from writing, is one of the major literary events of the season.
Crabcakes is an astounding, impressionistic examination of the emotional topography of McPherson's life, from his days in Baltimore to his recent years at the esteemed University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. His exploration of the inner torture that has plagued him will strike a deep chord within readers. "If one does not have sufficient imagination to imagine something beyond the closing-n borders of the now...one will surely begin to die," he writes. Bemusedly he suggests that there is one consolation he could always count on: contemplating the future enjoyment of a Maryland crabcake.
Movingly depicting McPherson's quest to find redemption in the rarefied literary world through the study of other writers and the teaching of writing, Crabcakes is a rare look inside the mind of a great writer.
Lev Raphael Detroit Free Press All are likely to be moved by [McPherson's] prose, which at times recalls the passion and precision of James Baldwin.
N. Graham Nesmith Philadelphia Inquirer Crabcakes is an inspirational story of an individual who gains wisdom from his arduous decisions.
Mimi McFarland The Bloomsbury Review Crabcakes proves once again that James Alan McPherson continues to be of incomparable value, not only to literature but to each of us.
Felipe Nieves The Cleveland Plain Dealer As in the dazzling stories of Elbow Room...the writing is clean and crisp....The imagery is spare and on occasion disarmingly moving in its evocative power.
V. R. Peterson People magazine A thoughtful argument for valuing the rituals which sustain communities.
Ploughshares This beautiful book resonates as a personal meditation on race, self, and community.
With the same grace and lyrical precision that distinguish his vibrant short stories, James McPherson surveys the emotional upheaval of his last twenty-one years. From Baltimore, Maryland, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Iowa and Japan, Crabcakes witnesses McPherson's confrontation with the past, and his struggle to make sense of it and to bind it, peacefully, to the present. His elliptical search for meaning -- and his ultimate understanding of what makes us human -- finds in Crabcakes a powerful and enduring voice.
About the Author
James Alan McPherson is the author of Hue and Cry, Railroad, and Elbow Room, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1978. His essays and short stories have appeared in numerous periodicals -- including The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, The Atlantic Monthly, Newsday, Plough-shares, The Iowa Review, and Double-Take -- and anthologies such as volumes of The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays, and O. Henry Prize Stories. McPherson has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a MacArthur Prize Fellows Award. He is currently a professor of English at the Iowa Writers' Workshop in Iowa City.