Wayne Booth

Wayne Booth is Professor of English at the University of Chicago and author of The Rheotric of Fiction. His Critical Understanding was published last September.

Works of Love in Nebraska

Wayne Booth, 22 May 1980

One of America’s three most important living novelists – I’ll let you name the other two – has just published one of the best of his novels. Unlike any other first-class novel we’re likely to see this year, Plains Song sings of life on the American plains. To sing, in the 1980s, about life on the American plains does not exactly put one into the mainstream of American letters. But the pun in Morris’s title is profoundly right: there is, after all, a ‘mainstream’ more enduring than fashions, and this plainsong laments and celebrates lives which in their frequent losses and occasional joys are far less provincial – well, than whatever novel is busting blocks in the week when this review appears. Because Wright Morris accompanies his characters’ beautiful, spare descants with his own loving reminders of why each transient life embodies permanent meaning, we always know that this is not a ‘regional novel’, just as it is not a satiric rejection, like Flaubert’s, of the customs of the provinces.


Eugene Goodheart, 16 March 1989

Wayne Booth begins his new book by recalling how in the early Sixties he and his colleagues at the University of Chicago could ignore the distress of a young black assistant professor, Paul...

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These Staggering Questions

Clive James, 3 April 1980

Previous books by Wayne C. Booth, especially The Rhetoric of Fiction, have been well received in the academic world. Since it first made its appearance in the early Sixties, The Rhetoric of...

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