Books by Stephen Dixon

Stephen Dixon was born in 1936 and since 1963 he has published over 400 stories in such magazines as the Paris Review, Harper's, Atlantic Monthly and Playboy. This extraordinary feat works out, roughly, to one published story a month. He has published, on

LATE STORIES by Stephen Dixon
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"Dixon is a master of the minor moments, the dreams and the disappointments, that transfigure every one of us."
Dixon's new collection explores the heart of an aging man's life. Read full book review >
MEYER by Stephen Dixon
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"An anemic mishmash—for loyal fans only."
The prolific postmodernist (Phone Rings, 2005, etc.) profiles a writer trawling for material among family memories and fantasies. Read full book review >
30 by Stephen Dixon
Released: May 1, 1999

Novelist and storywriter Dixon (Sleep, p. 102, etc.) offers a big, generous, free-form fictional autobiography of his alter ego—husband, father, and writer-teacher Gould Bookbinder (who first appeared in 1997's Gould). It develops in an unusual way: 30 separate chapters (arranged in apparently random order) detail both real and imaginary experiences, crowned by the book length "Ends" (itself containing 15 substantial sub-chapters) that considers possible ways in which this story itself might have concluded (for example, a moving sequence entitled "The Brother" dreams what if . . . an older brother who died young had instead grown up to become his sibling's intellectual soulmate and rival). Many chapters explore Gould's relationships with his wife Sally (a victim of multiple sclerosis) and their two daughters ("Accidents and Mishaps" is an especially acute dramatization of parental fears). Others (such as "Everything Goes" and "The Burial") examine his feelings about—and attempts to care for—his distant mother and scarcely known father; sexual fact and fantasy ("Popovers" unsparingly describes his foolish infatuation with a young waitress at a Maine resort, and "The Bellydancer" amusingly recounts the young Gould's victimization by an older woman's erotic gamesmanship) or discrete accidents (in "The Suicide," Gould's reaction when a casual acquaintance violently takes his own life exfoliates into a complex, funny threnody on his own preoccupation with death). Dixon's sedulously plain style and penchant for stream-of-consciousness monologues and long run-on paragraphs make for a sometimes wearying read, but over the long haul his gamble pays off: we observe his thoughtful, egoistic, sometimes faithless protagonist in so many recognizably human situations that it's impossible to deny his essential resemblance to all of us. Best read in conjunction with Gould, though also quite accessible on its own—and probably Dixon's best so far. Read full book review >
SLEEP by Stephen Dixon
Released: March 1, 1999

A gathering of 22 stories representing more than two decades of the career of National Book Award finalist Dixon (Gould, 1997, etc.), whose distinctively flat style (—Anyway, there's my most vivid memory. Big deal, right?—) carries traces of both Hemingway and Mamet—with a bit of Woody Allen's attitude mixed in. An incredibly prolific author who has published more than a dozen titles since the late 1970s, Dixon has established a cult following with work that straddles the border separating the experimental from the comic. Unreliable narrators predominate throughout, turning accounts of straightforward events (—A man stands at a street corner—) into idiosyncratic interior monologues (—Did it last sumer so again itll be tuf the1st few days but then ill be all rt—). This is clearly a collection aimed at fans, and Dixon is bound to have a limited audience at best. Nevertheless, newcomers to his work will find it a good introduction to one of the more original voices on the contemporary scene. Read full book review >
GOULD by Stephen Dixon
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

Stream-of-consciousness fiction, about one Gould Bookbinder, a would-be writer, and his many girlfriends, from the prolific author of Interstate (1995), Frog (1991), etc. The story divides into two novellas, ``Abortions'' and ``Evangeline,'' but they are of a piece, chronicling the relationships Gould experiences from the 1950s onward. Dixon writes in a run-on style that drifts in and out of these relationships, capturing, in the process, the emergence of a more liberal moral climate, and the evolution of a naive adolescent into a mature man. ``Abortions'' thus moves from back-alley abortions to legal ones; it is the relationships themselves, however, that are abortive here, unsatisfactory and temporary. Gould doesn't have much to offer his women except sex, and the assets they have, in his eyes, are purely sexual. He flits from one female to another until, finally, he's married and a father, but his wife, too, is purely a sexual being, and abortions still happen. Gould's longest relationship is not with his wife but with the title character of the second novella, with whom he maintains a correspondence and whom he continues to sees long after he's married. Evangeline is a free spirit, raising her son on the fly as she takes on lover after lover, pops pills, and plays at becoming an artist. She and Gould proclaim a hundred times that they don't belong together, that they have nothing in common, that each wants most to be free. Ironically, they are in fact exactly suited to each other—they're both irresponsible, selfish, and self-absorbed in much the same way. Extremely readable and clever work, but the pages don't add up to much except sex and more sex, described in clinical detail and with clinical dispassion, featuring a cast of characters who seem incapable of thinking about anything other than their bodies and their appetites. Read full book review >
INTERSTATE by Stephen Dixon
Released: May 1, 1995

A mildly experimental narrative of a driver whose daughter is shot and killed on the interstate in an act of random violence. Eight interconnected narratives dramatize the lasting effects of such violence on the survivors. Dixon's paragraphs are pages long, and his tone is best described as modulated affectlessness. The reader is swept along, not with as much exuberance as in Stephen Wright's similar Going Native, but by a hypnotic intensity that replicates zoned-out road weariness and the numbness that sets in after tragedy. In the first section, the protagonist watches as one daughter, Julie, is killed while the other, Margo, survives. Obsessed, he hunts the murderers day and night, finally runs over two people who may or may not be the ones who gunned down Julie, spends years in prison, is released, does his best to befriend his surviving daughter, is shot and partially paralyzed in a holdup, and finally dies in his sleep. Subsequent narratives take small pieces of this story and expand them elaborately in the manner of Nicholson Baker. The second narrative is centered in the hospital, the third in the car. In the fourth, the man tells his daughters how to protect themselves from harm in the city; it stops before the terror begins. The fifth shows the father thinking back years later on what might have happened. The sixth, told in the second person (``How do you sit and answer questions from the police?''), stops at the point when he prepares to view the body. The last two narratives subvert the first six: In the seventh, there is no murder, but an accident in which Margo may also have been killed; in the eighth, nobody is hurt. Throughout, Dixon has avoided his usual glibness, which can be overbearing to the point of self- parody, in favor of more serious reflection. Dixon's 17th book (The Stories of Stephen Dixon, 1994, etc.) is a powerful meditation on contemporary violence and the ways we daydream about it. (Author tour) Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 1994

This magnanimous volume marks Dixon's first publication with a mainstream house since Harper & Row brought out Quite Contrary in 1979. Culled from 13 collections (many still in print), it contains less than half the stories the prolific postmodernist has published over the past 20 years. While some are obviously better than others, he keeps a fairly even keel, and few, if any, selections disappoint. It's hard to imagine coming away from this huge book wanting more, but Dixon's experimental yet accessible style is addictive. Five chapters from his 1991 novel, Frog (finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pen/Faulkner Award), are also included. Read full book review >