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The Lonely Voice

A Study of the Short Story

Introduction by Russell Banks

The Lonely Voice offers a master class on short story writing with a true master of the form. It is, in fact, based on the lectures that legendary Irish short story writer Frank O’Connor gave while teaching a master class in fiction writing at Stanford University in 1961. Among the students in that class: Ken Kesey, Larry McMurtry, Robert Stone, and Susan Howe.

With his sharp wit and straightforward prose, O’Connor not only discusses the techniques and challenges of a form in which “a whole lifetime must be crowded into a few minutes,” but also delves into a passionate consideration of his favorite authors and their greatest works, including Chekhov, Hemingway, Kipling, Joyce, and others.

More than just a “how-to:” for writers, “this wonderful book,” as Russell Banks observes in his introduction, “…gives new ways to understand and love more intelligently what we read.”

FRANK O’CONNOR is widely recognized as one of Ireland’s greatest writers and cultural figures. He lived in the United States off and on after 1952, teaching at Harvard and Stanford, and writing stories for The New Yorker magazine. His most popular works include his Collected StoriesGuest of the Nation, and An Only Child.

”A dazzling and provocative introduction to talking about what people do when they sit down to write short stories.”—from the introduction by Russell Banks

“This is a brilliant book on a subject about which little has been written. It carries, besides, the authority a critical work always possesses when its author is a distinguished practitioner of the art he is criticizing.”—The New York Times Book Review

”It’s unsurprising that this book should prove so hardy: O’Connor was compelling when voicing an opinion. What Richard Ellmann calls the ”assumptive tone” of his criticism can inspire, thrill and infuriate, but will never bore.” —The Guardian

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