Books by Hortense Calisher

TATTOO FOR A SLAVE by Hortense Calisher
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

"A masterpiece of memoir: a volume that soars, sings, and sobs."
A dazzling memoir by the nonagenarian novelist who discovers along the way a most damning document among her family's papers. Read full book review >
SUNDAY JEWS by Hortense Calisher
Released: May 1, 2001

"This incandescent elegy to age, change, and acceptance burns with an urgency that seems to have pared Calisher's often-reviled ornate style down to a taut, focused simplicity and purity. She has often before written as fervently, even as generously, but she has never written better."
Calisher is the bridesmaid of contemporary American fiction: for more than 50 years an imposingly brilliant stylist whose densely declarative and analytical, richly woven fiction has never achieved the canonical status awarded to many writers far less accomplished. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1997

"Varied, precise work by a writer deserving more attention."
During a very lengthy career (she published her first book in 1951), Calisher has produced a number of novels, several story collections, and a significant number of novellas. Read full book review >
Released: May 1, 1997

The 14th novel from a veteran writers' writer, now in her 86th year, who has for almost a half-century been lavishly praised for her verbal ingenuity and peevishly damned for her baroque fiction's frequent obscurity. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1994

"A slow, packed, teeming fictional journey, but the becalmed- to-bucketing excursion through the fantasized emigre experience is worth a trip."
"By the last decade of the twentieth century, America...had become accustomed to taking to its heart or its bosom...a particular band of adopted heroes...called dissidents." Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1988

"A fitting companion to—and as evocative and precise as—Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory."
A brief (112-page) reminiscence by one of America's greatest prose stylists. Read full book review >
AGE by Hortense Calisher
Released: Sept. 25, 1987

"An amusing, acrid and sharp view of the 'total disease' of life and death, paced by Calisher's own teasing imagination."
In this brief wry-and-bitters mulling of the nagging, niggling, old-age preoccupations with death and dying, Calisher has reined in her usual frothing diction and dialogue for the even-tempered (but hardly conventional) joint meditation of a witty, much-loving septuagenarian couple. Read full book review >
THE BOBBY SOXER by Hortense Calisher
Released: March 28, 1986

"A wildly uneven talent—but un-ignorable."
Another jolting, maddening, occasionally exhilarating trip on Calisher's Hovercraft fiction, as again the misty distance between the plot frame and the Meaning-of-It-All offers both dazzlements and headachy obscurations. Read full book review >
SARATOGA, HOT by Hortense Calisher
Released: May 1, 1985

"Inventive, observant, murky, florid: the familiar mixed bag of Calisher virtues and drawbacks—but without the oppressive longueurs of her recent novels."
Eight "little novels"—i.e., longish short stories—from the idiosyncratic author of strong short fiction and uneven novels; here, though none of the pieces is quite fully satisfying, the collection is only occasionally mired in the feverish imagery and lumbering verbiage that have seriously marred Calisher's recent work (On Keeping Women, Mysteries of Motion). Read full book review >
MYSTERIES OF MOTION by Hortense Calisher
Released: Oct. 1, 1983

"The rest, unfortunately is, like Calisher's other recent fiction, a pretentious morass of talking heads and overbearing prose."
A dense and florid pseudo-philosophical novel, poked into a comparatively neat and bleakly jarring sci-fi frame: four American neo-luminaries, one young stowaway, and a pregnant Iranian (along with some barely-glimpsed others) are encapsulated in a Star Trek-type space vehicle on its way to an American space station. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1981

"Very few standouts, much inferior, unflattering work: a definite dip in quality and authority for this usually-solid series."
This new Best Stories collection, the weakest in years, should not necessarily lead to generalizations about the sad state of the American short story—because the problem may have more to do with editorial judgment. Read full book review >
ON KEEPING WOMEN by Hortense Calisher
Released: Nov. 1, 1977

In a swarming of images, bright diversions, and symbolism which seems to flip belly-up before your eyes, Calisher again stirs toward coherence but lands mostly among impressive isles of total chaos. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 16, 1975

"The pride her characters take in their roots is as essential a theme as the moment of triumphant insight that so neatly rounds off Calisher's crafted tales of very real people."
This volume combines three prior, now out of print, collections of Calisher short stories (In the Absence of Angels, Tales of the Mirror and Extreme Magic), including those centered around the Hester and Kinny Elkin family, which first appeared in The New Yorker. Read full book review >
EAGLE EYE by Hortense Calisher
Released: Oct. 15, 1973

"If I once had a knife with thirty-nine uses, I ought to be able to remember how many ways people can be lost." Read full book review >
QUEENIE, A NOVEL by Hortense Calisher
Released: March 29, 1971

"All kinds of attention-getting remarks ('he has a small macrobiotic mouth') and show-stopping paraphernalia (her cache-nombril) put the reader at a considerable disadvantage, assuming that he's anywhere at all."
Queenie's a little princess of souped-up camp brought up in the high-stepping, free-loving house of her so called uncle and aunt where she is exposed at an early age to the pleasures of kept womanhood. Read full book review >
THE NEW YORKERS by Hortense Calisher
Released: April 14, 1969

"These are people who 'transacted life in beautiful visits'-namely remote, and while one is impressed with the properties of Miss Calisher's style which is freighted with elegant ellipses and inferences, one eventually submits to the book's flawlessly sustained tedium."
Opaque, inbred, mannered, tapered, porcelainized-these are qualities of Miss Calisher hitherto applied to short stories, novellas or novels. Read full book review >
Released: May 9, 1966

In the first of these two novellas, Miss Calisher is more recognizable— it is less cabalistic than her most recent Journal from Ellipsia, but it has much of the highstrung, rather elegant flair associated with a good deal of her writing. Read full book review >
JOURNAL FROM ELLIPSIA by Hortense Calisher
Released: June 15, 1965

"The total effect, alas, is utter mystification."
In the old days, when Hortense Calisher was a New Yorker regular, she used to delight her readers with sleek, witheringly bright tales of poor sophisticates or bumbling pseudo-bohemians. Read full book review >
Released: April 29, 1964

"Varied, skilled work nonetheless."
Eight short stories and the title novella are essentially moments of recognition. Read full book review >
Released: June 15, 1962

"Although some stories (So Many Rings to the Show) may tend to ladies' magazine fiction, the majority achieve the finest fascination a traditional short story can offer—in a time when that form is a disappearing art."
In her second collection of engrossing short stories (her first, In the Absence of Angel), this thoughtful author explores the contemporary American's attempts to reconcile himself with his patterned, too often self-defeating civilization and answers with a hopeful reflection: "Every man has some little tale he tells himself in the as to be able to look at himself in the mirror the next morning." Read full book review >
FALSE ENTRY by Hortense Calisher
Released: Oct. 30, 1961

"But despite its shortcomings, False Entry remains one of the few striking fictional achievements within recent times."
An unusual first novel — connoisseur literature par excellence, as often near shimmering pearls as parody. Read full book review >
Released: June 15, 1951

"There's a sedulously whetted prose style here, and a feeling of burnished worldliness which underlines the intensity of naked isolation and the probing of antagonisms, whether adult and juvenile or race and creed Caviare."
A collection of short stories, some from The New Yorker and with appearances in yearly collections, has, in its selections, a basic theme of moments of loneliness, of rejections and the rejected, which are for the most part Jewish in origin. Read full book review >