Finding Again the World
“John Metcalf has written some of the very best stories ever published in this country.” —Alice Munro
“Perhaps when you will have / Fully awakened, I shall show you / A new thing,” writes Howard Nemerov in “The Blue Swallows,” the poem from which John Metcalf’s Finding Again the World takes its title. Like the lines that draw them together, the twelve stories presented here simultaneously elegize and embrace the conflict central to all literary arts: the word that signifies the thing is not the thing itself—and yet the word, like a lodestone, is what we have to find our way.
With a critical introduction by Keath Fraser, and representing the full range of Metcalf’s remarkable career—from the early “Dandelions” to his latest, “The Museum at the End of the World”—this selected volume is a new thing indeed: the dazzling record of an artist who has devoted his substantial talents not only to his own work, but to the passionate defense of language and the short story form itself. While Metcalf’s work as a critic, editor, publisher, and champion has influenced the careers of many of our most beloved writers—from Caroline Adderson through Norman Levine and Alice Munro, from Leon Rooke to Diane Schoemperlen—it is the craftsmanship and lyrical precision of his own work that perhaps best demonstrates what it means “to see / With opened eyes emptied of speech.” These are stories hewn from experience, language hammered loose from the abstract. These are stories that will last.