John Gardner

John Gardner (1933-1982) was a popular and controversial author. He wrote several best-selling novels, including Grendel, The Sunlight Dialogues, Nickel Mountain, and October Light (which won the National Critics Circle Award in 1976), and The Art of Fiction, an essay text now standard in university writing classes, and On Moral Fiction, a book so scandalous it almost destroyed his career.

Mickelsson’s Ghosts

Fiction by John Gardner

The final novel by John Gardner, Mickelsson’s Ghosts, originally published in 1982 just months before his untimely death in a motorcycle accident, is a tour de force. The protagonist Peter Mickelsson, a former star philosophy professor at Brown, relocates to Binghamton University. On the verge of bankruptcy, separated from his wife, in questionable mental health, and drinking heavily, Mickelsson decides to buy a country house in northeastern Pennsylvania. What he encounters there are impassioned and shameless love affairs (one of which results in a regrettable pregnancy), a Mormon extremist cult, small town mythologies, the robbery of a robber, multiple murders, the ghosts of an incestuous family, Plato, and our hero’s own possible insanity.…
More Information

The Sunlight Dialogues

Fiction by John Gardner

In The Sunlight Dialogues, John Gardner’s vision of America in the turbulent 1960s embraces an unconventional cast of conventional citizens in the small rural town of Batavia, New York. Sheriff Fred Clumly is trying desperately to unravel mysteries surrounding a disorderly, nameless drifter called “The Sunlight Man,” who has been jailed for painting the word “LOVE” across two lanes of traffic, and who is later suspected of murder. The men battle over morality, freedom and their opposing notions of justice, leading each to find his own state of grace.…
More Information

Nickel Mountain

Fiction by John Gardner

With a contribution by William H. Gass

At the heart of John Gardner’s Nickel Mountain is an uncommon love story: when at 42, the obese, anxious and gentle Henry Soames marries seventeen-year-old Callie Wells–who is pregnant with the child of a local boy–it is much more than years which define the gulf between them. But the beauty of this novel is the gradual revelation of the bond that develops as this unlikely couple experiences courtship and marriage, the birth of a son, isolation, forgiveness, work, and death in a small Catskill community in the 1950s.…
More Information

October Light

Fiction by John Gardner

October Light is one of John Gardner’s masterworks. The penniless widow of a once-wealthy dentist, Sally Abbot now lives in the Vermont farmhouse of her older brother, 72-year-old James Page. Polar opposites in nearly every way, their clash of values turns a bitter corner when the exacting and resolute James takes a shotgun to his sister’s color television set. After he locks Sally up in her room with the trashy “blockbuster” novel that has consumed her (and only apples to eat), the novel-within-the-novel becomes an echo chamber providing glimpses into the history of the family that spawned these bizarre, sad, and stubborn people.…
More Information
< Margaret Dawe Nicanor Parra >