Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spare and elegant: The William Maxwell style

When Barbara Burkhardt, an associate professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, published her biography of William Maxwell in 2005, reviewers were justifiably enthusiastic. Maxwell, who spent his early years in Lincoln, Ill., in which he set many of his fictional works, died in New York in 2000, at the age of 92, after a career that produced an impressive array of novels, stories, fables and letters, many of the latter in exchanges with the legendary writers he worked with in his 40 years as a fiction editor at The New Yorker. Burkhardt’s William Maxwell: A Literary Life captured the spirit and style of this consummate literary craftsman.

And now comes another effort by Burkhardt to spread the word about the quiet life and estimable work of one of the great under-appreciated authors of the 20th century. Burkhardt has edited Conversations with William Maxwell, a compilation of 29 disparate items which, together, provide a detailed impression of his literary influences, his goals and motivations, his generous, compassionate character, and his unassuming personality.

Burkhardt's book was featured by the Illinois Times on September 27, 2012.

Read the article online