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What Goes without Saying

, 320 pages
May 2000
List price:$29.00
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What Goes without Saying

Collected Stories of Josephine Jacobsen

The recipient of nearly every major literary award in the United States, Josephine Jacobsen has enjoyed a career that spans more than six decades, from the publication of her first poem at age eleven to her 1995 nomination as a National Book Award finalist. What Goes without Saying brings together thirty of her previously published stories. In "Sound of Shadows," she takes readers through the double-bolted front door of a rowhouse, into the narrow quarters of Mrs. Bart, an elderly widow who has folded her life into her dark living room where the sole light in her "one room wide" world comes from the magenta- and green-tinged colors flashing on her television screen. We follow the muezzin's melancholy call in "A Walk with Raschid," an O. Henry Prize story about an intriguing ten-year-old Arab boy who guides a honeymoon couple through the Moroccan Fez. And the tautly written "Protection" begins with an exacting poetic image that is typical of Jacobsen's insightful prose: "Mica sparkles. The banshee ambulance is beating its mad bell. Like a reaped grassblade on a meadow of macadam, its object lies."

Josephine Jacobsen has written seven books of poetry, two works of criticism, and three collections of short fiction. From 1971 to 1973 she served two terms as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a post recently retitled National Poet Laureate. Her many awards include a 1994 Academy of the Arts citation; the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize; a fellowship from the Academy of American Poets for service to poetry; and the selection of On the Island: Short Stories as one of the five nominees for the PEN-Faulkner fiction award. Other honors include a recent award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and eight inclusions of her storiesin the O. Henry Prize Stories.

"The author's short fiction has been rewarded with eight appearances in the annual O. Henry Prize Stories collection. The engaging What Goes without Saying collects 30 of her best tales, which first appeared in magazines ranging from Mademoiselle to the Kenyon Review."

"Josephine Jacobsen gives us a startling word-by-word gift. Her characters—human and animal—know edginess and exhilaration. She is unfoolable. Her judgment is lyric, wise, and daring. She looks all around, her angle of vision invariably original, able to switch from the periscopic to the circumferential."

"Josephine Jacobsen writes masterfully, consistently, and better every year. She has a superb narrative gift and she sketches the people of her world with originality, inventiveness, and rare intelligence."

"Unlike the predominant shrillness, vagueness, or opacity of the contemporary scene, Josephine Jacobsen's work is marked by its reserve, stoic timbre, and its high precision."