Meyer

Stephen Dixon, Author . Melville House $16.95 (300p) ISBN 978-1-933633-30-5

In his 27th work of fiction, Guggenheim fellow, National Book Award finalist and Pushcart Prize–winner Dixon explores an affliction that neither he nor his protagonist would seem to know much about: writer's block. Meyer Ostrower is an aging, accomplished fiction writer living in Baltimore who one day finds himself at a loss for words. As he rummages through his past looking for material, the factual events of his existence morph into fiction. The novel is a set of themes and variations on major episodes of Meyer's life, many of them imagined: there is his death, his wife's death, his sister's death, his mother and father's deaths, all in various incarnations, side by side with childhood memories and sexual fantasies. He catalogues a lifetime of injuries (ranging from a stickball scar to a small white mark where his typewriter's “line space lever went into his upper eyelid”), worries in typical neurotic fashion about his arthritis and his heart, and reflects on the dwindling number of letters in his mailbox. Although writing about writer's block risks relying on a tired conceit, Dixon not only pulls it off, but puts together a series of quirky and powerful vignettes about aging. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/20/2007
Release date: 09/01/2007
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