Winter 2004

on a writer’s endgame

Richard Gustave Stern

Richard Stern's most recent novel is “Pacific Tremors” (2001). His fifth ‘orderly miscellany,’ “What Is What Was,” was published in 2002. This year Northwestern University Press will publish his collected stories, “Almonds to Zhoof,” and reissue three of his novels, “Stitch” (1965), “Other Men's Daughters” (1973), and “Natural Shocks” (1978). Stern has been a Fellow of the American Academy since 1995.

Haven’t I given specimen clues, if no more? At any rate I have written enough to weary myself–and I will dispatch it to the printers, and cease. But how much– how many topics, of the greatest point and cogency, I am leaving untouch’d!

–Walt Whitman, “Last Saved Items”

In January of 2002, I retired from fifty-three years of teaching, forty-six of them at the University of Chicago. For tenured professors of my time, the decision to retire is one’s own. I won’t go into the pros and cons that weighed on me for more than a year. One pro, though, was that there would no longer be the slight . . .

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