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Book Title

The Outermost Dream

Literary Sketches
Author 1
William Maxwell
The Outermost Dream brings together essays and reviews by William Maxwell, one of America's foremost writers and editors. Maxwell chose deliberately to focus on biography, memoir, diaries, and correspondence when reviewing books: "what people said and did and wore and ate and hoped for and were afraid of, and in detail after often unimaginable detail they refresh our idea of existence and hold oblivion at arm's length." In reading his reviews, we are struck by Maxwell's skill in choosing the one particular, the haunting moment, that further illuminates our understanding of the power of an individual life. His discernment is equally telling whether writing about literary luminaries such as Virginia Woolf, Lord Byron, E.B. White, Isak Dinesen, or delving into the diaries of an unknown Victorian curate with vivid dreams of murder and mayhem.

"Maxwell writes with relish about all the quirks and quiddities of human lives, with warmth about the honorable things that men and women do, with regret for the rest.... On every page there is a quiet observation, made with deceptive ease, that will ravish the reader."—The Boston Globe

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"In this wonderful volume we get Mr. Maxwell's clear prose, his magical narrative and the attractions of his quirky mind."—The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

William Maxwell was born in 1908, in Lincoln, Illinois. When he was fifteen his family moved to Chicago and he continued his education there and at the University of Illinois. After a year of graduate work at Harvard he went back to Urbana and taught freshman composition, and then turned to writing. For forty years he was a fiction editor at the New Yorker. From 1969 to 1972 he was president of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. He has received the Brandeis Creative Arts Award Medal and, for his novel, So Long, See You Tomorrow, the National Book Award and the Howells Medal of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died in 2000 at the age of 91.
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