Books by Jerome Loving

Released: Feb. 21, 2017

"A sympathetic telling of the life and death of an infamous convict and the ill-fated intervention of a famed writer."
In 1979, Norman Mailer published The Executioner's Song, a novel that narrated the life and death of Gary Gilmore, a notorious killer executed in 1977. Loving (English/Texas A&M Univ.; Confederate Bushwhacker: Mark Twain in the Shadow of the Civil War, 2013, etc.) offers the back story of Mailer's fraught relationship with the murderer whose story was eerily similar to that of Gilmore. Read full book review >
THE LAST TITAN by Jerome Loving
Released: March 1, 2005

"Like much of Dreiser's fiction, unlikely to be taken up for sheer reading pleasure. "
A dry, literal, strictly by-the-book new biography of the Hoosier novelist favored by American mythmakers but excoriated by stylists. Read full book review >
WALT WHITMAN by Jerome Loving
Released: March 1, 1999

Perhaps every age needs to reinterpret its icons, but this first full-length, critical biography of Walt Whitman in nearly 20 years, while perfectly serviceable and replete with modest insights and discoveries, is primarily for scholars. Though Whitman avidly sought to be a public poet, going so far as to supply newspapers with self-congratulatory reviews and blind items, much about his life remains elusive. Certain key portions of his early years, such as an extended sojourn in New Orleans, seem biographically and artistically important, but details are vague. And in an era which desperately wants to claim him as gay, or at least bisexual, the full range and breadth of his sexuality and sexual experiences are still hotly debated and hard to pin down. The upshot is that any account of the "good graybeard's" life tends to be rife with interesting but ultimately indecisive speculation and closely cloistered academic debate. Loving (Emily Dickinson: The Poet on the Second Story, not reviewed, etc.) stays further above the fray than most and puts to rest several of the wilder surmises, but doughty portions of this account feel more like an MLA colloquium than an engaged biography. However, the author does break some new ground in his analysis of Whitman's journalistic career, particularly how it shaped his politics and poetry. While he—d scribbled all kinds of ephemera as a journalist, including a forgettable temperance novel, Whitman enjoyed little success or acclaim until the self-published and self-promoted collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, in 1855. With its vers libre, democratic vistas, frank eroticism, and fixation on the self, it was an utterly original landmark. Though Whitman, despite a scandalous reputation, never became as famous in his lifetime as Longfellow or Whittier or Emerson, in death he has eclipsed all rivals as the father of modern American poetry. A useful academic biography, but not one to capture the imagination of the general reader. Read full book review >