Although Hortense Calisher's fiction often draws on autobiographical elements, Herself is a disciplined documentation of the award-winning author's life and work. She surveys the various decades and landscapes she has inhabited, mining her family's Jewish lineage, discussing her children, exploring her greatest artistic influences, and describing her work process in a brave and bold work of autobiography. Herself is a rich collage of essays, reviews, recollections, and observations that unite the writer and the person.
Pierre Goodman enjoys an idyllic childhood as the son of a widowed dressmaker in post-World War I England. But paradise is ripped from him at age 10 when he and his mother immigrate to a small town in Alabama. Yearning to regain peace within his own mind and aided by his photographic memory, he begins falsely but completely enveloping himself in the lives of others. He yearns to become not merely a listener to the world, but also a singer in its chorus. In doing so, Pierre’s life becomes an extraordinary document of his time and place as he finds himself a part of history over and over again.
Famous playwright Craig Towle has decided to return to his New Jersey hometown, a suburb of New York City. He arrives with his world-renowned reputation and a new wife who is half his age. It is the 1950s, and the new couple raises plenty of eyebrows - in particular, those of the narrator, an adolescent girl who is full of observations, but not judgments. At the center of this layered novel is the narrator's unconventional family and their odd fixation on Towle, which goes beyond his mere celebrity.
Kissing Cousins recalls the author as a teenager: peppy, earnest, and a bit self-important. Hortense Calisher documents her family's surprising history as Southern Jews adrift in New York. Finding her new city and school boorish, the young Calisher takes solace in the enduring friendship she develops with Katie Pyle, a gregarious nurse turned "kissing cousin" 15 years Calisher's senior. Katie, an unmarried woman, possesses her own secret, depicted here with a novelist's touch for the dramatic.
Set in 1960s New York, this piquant coming-of-age story concerns a teenage girl, Queenie, raised to become a "kept woman" in an exceedingly comfortable and well-adjusted - yet insular and retrograde - household. After enrolling in college, Queenie confronts new understandings, both personal and political, and gradually becomes cognizant of the dated values imparted upon her.
Carol spends the majority of her vagrant days socializing with her homeless neighbors, arguing with a testy social worker, and wandering the streets with Alphonse, a wayward South African wino and self-professed actor. Alphonse proves to be an inspiring force, and soon Carol is weaning herself off antidepressants as the sifting of her memories - mostly of her upbringing by two aunts in Massachusetts - creates a chance for redemption.
Age is the narrative of Rupert and Gemma's lives: their similarities, their differences, and the ways in which the two are irreversibly entwined. Each writes of life's mundane events - social outings, errands, a quiet night at home - that assume wistful meaning when viewed through the lens of memory.
A genderless alien from Ellipsia, a planet whose inhabitants have no concept of individuality, comes to Earth on an intergalactic exchange program to learn how to become human. To live here, the traveler must study and understand our inclinations for seeing people as distinct beings - the nature of gender, and at the heart of identity, the word I. At once funny and serious, Journal from Ellipsia offers a starkly objective view on our own humanity.
A complex masterpiece that reveals the mind of a contemporary woman beyond the confines of family, love, and duty to one’s self Lexie, a married woman with four children, undergoes a midlife crisis and questions her role as wife, mother, and lover. From within a Victorian house in the Hudson River Valley, Lexie dissects her life experiences in hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of her unhappiness. Through rich symbolism, lively dialogue, and acute commentary, Hortense Calisher conjures a cohesive map of Lexie’s personal awakening.
Dr. Niels Berners - a Swiss plastic surgeon living in New York - is struggling to recover from his dysfunctional son's abandonment of him. He joins a group of four other parents, all with absent children either in jail or in jeopardy, to discuss their feelings and seek a sense of community, comfort, and closure.
Returning home to New York from Europe on his twenty-first birthday, draft-dodging narrator Bunty Bronstein is frustrated with his increasingly pompous businessman father and his disaffected mother, who no longer shows the flame she once possessed. Equipped with an incisive view of bourgeois lifestyles in New York, Bunty observes the shifting sensibilities of his family members, and yet has difficulty apprehending his own place in the world.
A study in motives, conflicts, ambitions, and fears as idealistic young newlyweds face unanticipated realities Hortense Calisher's second novel is a multigenerational story of art, family, and marriage. Opening with Liz and David's wedding and chronicling the first four years of their life together, Calisher follows the couple through their evolution into erudite, anti-materialist artists. They move into a sparse downtown Manhattan loft, prideful of their rebellious choice to lead lives unfettered by possessions.
Two novellas from award-winning author Hortense Calisher offering very different journeys: the first looking hopefully forward, and the second, into a painful past. The characters in these two novellas take introspective, poignant excursions both to where they want to be (The Railway Police) and where they have been (The Last Trolley Ride).