RENEGADE: Henry Miller and the Making of Tropic of Cancer
(Yale University Press, 2011

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"Turner tells a good story: how Miller's Tropic of Cancer came to be written, came to be banned and came to be an American classic."    --New York Times Book Review, front cover, Editor's Choice

Banned as pornography in the United States, Tropic of Cancer was notorious for explicit sexuality and graphic language.  This book reveals the untold story of Miller's novel and explores its unique importance in American literature.

"Frederick Turner's Renegade tells the story of Miller's miraculous transformation, from unknown failure to literary giant, in highly evocative style, with wit and erudition.  Turner draws together the threads of the American literary and political tradition and shows, convincingly, that for all his years spent in Paris and his carping at his homeland, Miller remained profoundly American.  Renegade makes fascinating reading for everyone interested in the development of twentieth-century American literature and the Paris expatriate experience." -- Karl Orend, European editor of Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal

"This short, erudite and highly coloured account of Miller's creative backstory explores both an extraordinary American life and Miller's 'renegade' American inheritance." -- Robert McCrum, The Observer

 "Tropic of Cancer was indeed groundbreaking, and as Turner demonstrates so well, the novel stirred such controversy...that it helped pave the way for the liberation of American letters." -- Ron Antonucci, Booklist

Frederick Turner is author of eleven books of fiction and nonfiction. He edited Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred.

ICONS OF AMERICA
Mark Crispin Miller, Series Editor

Cover image: Original cover Tropic of Cancer, 1934, illustration by Maurice Girodias, published by Obelisk Press

Yale University Press
New Haven and London
yalebooks.com
yalebooks.co.uk

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go-Between, A Novel of the Kennedy Years
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2010)

| Buy this book | Book Talk and Signing, June 2, 2010 


A faded newspaperman downs a double Maker’s Mark and contemplates life as a “ham-and-egger,” a hack. Then one day he finds the scoop of a lifetime in a Chicago basement: diaries belonging to the infamous Judith Campbell Exner. Right, that Judy, the game girl who waltzed into the midst of America’s most powerful politicians, entertainers, and criminals as they conspired to rule America.
 
When Frank Sinatra flew Judy to Hawaii for a weekend of partying, she could hardly have imagined where it would lead her: straight to the White House and the waiting arms of Jack Kennedy. And then came the day that JFK and his brother Bobby asked her to carry a black bag to Chicago, where she was to hand it off to the boss of bosses, Sam Giancana. As our Narrator pieces the notebooks into a coherent story, he finds mob connections, rigged primaries, assassination plots, and trysts—and begins to see beyond the tabloid fare to a real woman, adrift and defenseless in a dangerous world where the fates of nations are at stake. As one by one the men Judy loved betrayed her and disappeared, and as the FBI pursued her into a living hell, her diary entries disintegrate along with the beautiful, tough, sweet woman the Narrator has come to know. Who was Exner, after all? Just a gangster’s moll? Or a bighearted woman who believed the sky-high promises of the New Frontier—and paid the price?
 

"The Go-Between is an insider's novel written from an outsider's point of view, a stark and graceful account of a woman who stood too close to celebrity's bright light and finally faded into its unforgiving glare."--Thomas H. Cook, author of The Fate of Katherine Carr and The Last Talk with Lola Foye


"The Go-Between is a brilliant and daring corrective of the JFK years. It is better to wear a seat belt when you read this novel." --Jim Harrison, author of The Farmer's Daughter

"Turner, artist that he is, has so expertly woven this tale of Judith Campbell Exner with a mixture of known-fact and maybe-fiction that it is quite impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends. It has to be true, doesn't it?" --Pat Oliphant, author of Leadership:Political Cartoons and Sculpture from the Bush Years


 

 

Redemption, A Novel
(Harcourt 2006)

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In this second fictional outing (after eight nonfiction titles and 1929: A Novel of the Jazz Age), Turner evokes the debauchery of New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century with intoxicating period detail. The grip of longtime vice lord Tom Anderson on the Storyville District's diversions of booze, half-hour whores and high-class brothels is challenged by the arrival of the Parker brothers, whose gangster money and thug muscle have Anderson's crew looking over their shoulders....Turner's sense of time and place—including a cameo by real-life prostitute photographer Bellocq—imbue the novel with atmosphere as steamy as a New Orleans summer day.--Reed Business

"Turner's storytelling is itself an act of redemption--it is enthralling, heartbreaking, and ultimately reaffirming. Redemption signals the arrival of a first-string novelist. Don't miss this one" -- William Kittredge, author of The Willow Field                                                                                   

 

 

In the Land of Temple Caves: Notes on Art and the Human Spirit
(Counterpoint 2004) 

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Turner has always believed in art as "humanity's fullest expression of itself as well as its most beautiful aspiration toward divinity," but like countless others he found himself questioning this assumption in the aftermath of September 11. How, he wondered, can art respond to atrocity? A remarkably versatile writer--he has nonfiction works about the West, baseball, and jazz; and the novel 1929 [BKL My 15 03]--Turner sought an antidote to the horror of Ground Zero in France, home of art's earliest manifestations: gloriously vital prehistoric cave paintings. And so he chronicles his descent to the underworld, where he is awed by the artistry of our ancestors, and his above-ground pilgrimages to various historical sites, including places scarred by the violence of the Nazi occupation. In beautifully sculpted prose and carefully reasoned musings, Turner defines art's role in the eternal battle between "the Life Force and the Destructive Impulse," concluding that art mediates death, defies time, and illuminates the essence and continuity of existence, hence its abiding and transcendent power.-- Donna Seaman
© American Library Association. All rights reserved 

 

"Frederick Turner's journey to the origins of human artistic expression in the temple caves of southwest France, is at once bracing, instructive and delightful. This is a book of and for the ages."-- Christopher Merrill

 


 

 

1929: A Novel of the Jazz Age
(Counterpoint 2003) 

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If the primary "function" of a historical novel is to completely transport readers back in time--and the more accurate and natural the transportation the better, of course--then this extraordinary first novel has to be accorded first-rate status within the genre. The world into which the reader is willingly, even lovingly, pulled is to some extent given away by the book's title: America in the late 1920s, when bootleg booze and red-hot jazz could be sought in almost any speakeasy in any burg big or small across the country. And that is exactly the smoky, syncopated environment Turner graphically and even elegiacally conjures in this fictional account of the life of Bix Beiderbecke, famous jazz coronet player.... Al Capone and Bing Crosby make appearances here, as do many other actual figures, all of them anchoring Turner's beautifully styled narrative to real events. Bix's was a meteoric life, caught here in full flame. 
-- Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved 
 

"...one of the most remarkable novels published in any year of our time. I found the book a stunning performance of grand dimension. The writing is beautifully controlled and elegant.... Historically, I can think of no finer portrait of an American artist and his times." --Jim Harrison

"Rip-roaring, entertaining image of a bygone era that deserves Pulitzer consideration."-- starred, Kirkus Reviews (Kirkus Review)

"[B]y turns intoxicating, and ineffably sad, like the 'hot' music it is designed to evoke." --The New Yorker

 


 

 

When the Boys Came Back: Baseball and 1946 

(Henry Holt 1996) 

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Fifty years ago, baseball fans were anticipating the first post-World War II season and the return to the game of such prewar stars as Ted Williams. Turner's history of that epochal year not only relates the often-inspirational, on-field triumphs of the returnees but also looks at larger questions: Would major-league baseball, like other businesses, be required to hire recently discharged black veterans, or was the game exempt from this rule as it was from so many others? Was a player who had been in the service three years a free agent?....Much of the research for this book was done through first-person interviews, and the result is a richly detailed, very entertaining account of the reinvigoration of an American tradition. 
-- Wes Lukowsky

"No one has captured the back-room workings of baseball better than Turner. To understand why baseball is what it is today, reading When the Boys Came Back is a must."--Ralph Kiner, Hall of Fame slugger and long-time New York Mets broadcaster
                                                                                                          

 

 

 

Remembering Song: Encounters with the New Orleans Jazz Tradition
(Viking 1980, Expanded edition, Da Capo 1994) 

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This work covers turn-of-the-century New Orleans and the formative years for jazz, from Buddy Bolden's aboriginal rise and fall to Jim Robinson's funeral. The author writes of figures like Freddie Keppard and Bunk Johnson. This expanded edition includes 16 pages of rare photographs and a new chapter on Allan Jaffe and Preservation Hall. 

"Turner's clear-eyed, affectionate backward look at New Orleans jazz...is altogether worthy of its subject, and there can be no higher praise than that."-- Shelby Foote, author of The Civil War : A Narrative.

 




 

A Border of Blue: Along the Gulf of Mexico from the Keys to the Yucatan
(Henry Holt 1993, Paper 1994) 

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The trademark of a good travel writer is an ability to convey to readers, by way of a lively and engaging style, the impressions of the place he or she visits. This art is exemplified in Turner's extraordinarily descriptive account of his 3500-mile journey along the Gulf Coast. The trip begins in the spring and the author moves west throughout, shedding light on everything from environmental issues and drug-running to tourism and the arts. Turner's strength lies in the colourful and sometimes eccentric characters he chooses to highlight. Readers will become acquainted with historical locals and present yokels whose comments epitomize the lifestyle in the coastal areas. All armchair travelers will delight in this book.
-- Jo-Anne Mary Benson, Osgoode, Ontario 

A Border of Blue is a "wonderful discovery of the ways in which place, in its intimate, provincial, and vernacular forms, is invested with history. It awakens a compassionate recognition of the human in the monumental past and the epic in the ordinary present." -- Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping

 


 

 

(Ed.) Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred
(New Directions 1991)

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In celebration of the centennial of his birth, Into the Heart of Life: Henry Miller at One Hundred gathers a captivating selection of writings from ten of his books. The delights of his prose are many, not the least of which is Miller's comic irony, which as The London Times noted, can be 'as stringent and urgent as Swift's.' Frederick Turner has organized the whole to highlight the autobiographical chronology of Miller's life, and along the way places the author squarely where he belongs,in the great tradition of American radical individualism, as a child of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman 




 

 

Of Chiles, Cacti and Fighting Cocks: Notes on the American West

(North Point 1990; expanded edition, Henry Holt 1996, revised and further expanded edition Fulcrum Publishing 2003)

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"There are people around, Evan Connell, John McPhee, Peter Matthiessen--who can pick up just about any subject, give it some reflection, and thereupon crank out a dazzling and novel essay....They fascinate me, these Original Thinkers, and it is always a treat to discover another of the band. Frederick Turner's Of Chiles, Cacti, and Fighting Cocks...ranges all over the American West....Each essay is well turned and basted with Turner's elegant prose."-- American Geographical Society

Frederick Turner has once again penned his sharp-witted observations on the unusual and often intriguing dichotomy of the real and the legendary in the American West. Now in its third edition, Of Chilies, Cacti, and Fighting Cocks remains a touchstone of popular Western literature. Anyone interested in history, environmental issues, the American West, and particularly Native American history will give a resounding cheer for Turner’s contribution to the endlessly fascinating American West. A thoughtful montage of western experience. This book is a lesson in consciousness.
-- Outside Magazine

 


 

 

Spirit of Place: The Making of an American
Literary Landscape 

(Sierra Club Books 1989, Island Press 1992) 

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Henry David Thoreau, Mark Twain, George Washington Cable, Willa Cather, Mari Sandoz, William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, William Carlos Williams, Leslie Morman Silko

Award-winning author Frederick Turner examines the lives and careers of these American authors, the locales they made famous, and the ways in which landscape played a role in the creation of their finest works. It is both a testament to the creative genius of nine of America's most important writers and an insightful investigation of the vital role of the physical landscape in the cultural development of the United States.

"...Turner's fascination for many of the literary shrines he describes, especially Willa Cather's craggy Southwest, gives to his writing a sense of devotion and love for the land that the reader can admire and feel." -- Kirkus Reviews

"In Spirit Of Place Frederick Turner literally explores American literature, on foot, as it were. He walks about Walden Pond, Oxford, Mississippi, and Rutherford, New Jersey, to name a few of his journeys, examining the books and the writers who found inspiration in a particular landscape. A learned and original creative enterprise" -- Elizabeth Hardwick 

 


 

 

Rediscovering America: John Muir
in His Time and Ours

(Viking 1985, Sierra Club Books 1990, Canongate [Edinburgh], Perseus Publishing 2000)

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In his stirring biography, Frederick Turner, the distinguished writer and cultural historian, captures the legendary scale of the life of an American icon. Immigrant, inventor, botanist, and founder of the conservation movement, John Muir (1838-1914) truly led those of his time-and now ours-to rediscover the natural beauty of this land. From his harsh childhood in Scotland and on a Wisconsin pioneer farm, to his rugged, solitary explorations all over America and especially in the Sierra, to his passionate battle, in person and in his writings, to save and celebrate our wilderness, Muir was a heroic figure. Turner's biography is every bit as monumental and inspiring as its subject.

"Allows the reader to follow [Muir's] progression from a young vagabond to the crony of presidents...a biography as shapely as its subject's life."

"An imaginative, beautifully written biography." -- New York Times

"Splendid and passionately written...a tour de force." -- Library Journal

"...presented in a prose so brightly graceful that the very reading of it is a literary experience of rare magnitude...never likely to be surpassed." -- Wilderness

 

 


 

 

 

Beyond Geography: The Western
Spirit Against the Wilderness

(Viking 1980, Rutgers University Press 1983, Editora Campus [Rio de Janeiro] 1990)

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First published in 1980, Beyond Geography continues to influence and impress its readers, providing a reconstruction of the spiritual history that led up to the European domination and decimation of native cultures that were as rich in mythic life as the Western culture was barren. This new edition, prepared for the Columbus quincentennial, includes a new foreword by T. H. Watkins and a new preface by the author. As the public debates Columbus's legacy, it is important for us to learn of the spiritual background of European domination of the Americas, for the Europeans who conquered the Americas substituted history for myth as a way of understanding life.

"With learning that embraces not only the history but the literary evolution, the dreams, and the profound psychic cravings of Western development, with insight, elegance, and uncanny precision that his readers have come to take for granted, Turner's work addresses the underlying delusion, the tragedy, the wreckage of our age, and how it came to pass. We are all in his debt." -- W. S. Merwin


"It is an astonishing performance and it works--not merely because Turner writes with a grace and perception that place him with a handful of historians who can be called great literary stylists, but because he has an idea going here, a significant one. . . . [A] brilliant, demanding, and important work." 
-- San Francisco Chronicle


"This is no ordinary critique of modern civilization . . . Beyond Geography is clearly a work of brilliance and imagination, a compelling, disturbing, and uncommonly literate exploration of one of mankind's most basic dilemmas."--Atlantic Monthly

 


 

 

 

 

The Viking Portable North American Indian Reader

(Viking 1974) 

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Myths, tales, poetry and oratory by North American Indians of the Iroquois, Cherokee, Winnebago, Sioux, Blackfeet, Hopi and many other tribes. Accounts of Indian life by white observers from Bernal Diaz to Francis Parkman. Contemporary reassessments by such writers as Luther Standing Bear, N. Scott Momaday, Vine Deloria, Jr., Thomas Berger and Gary Snyder. 
"An anthology of tales and experiences of Native American societies.  It is an enlightening work." --Native American Book Reviews

 

"...gives a scholarly and insightful tour through historic and modern readings...." --

 

 


 

 

(Ed.) Geronimo, His Own Story

(Dutton 1970 and subsequent editions in England, France, Italy; Ballantine 1971; Penguin 1996)

| Buy this book |  Buy 1996 edition |

One of the most extraordinary documents in the annals of Native American history, this is the authentic testament of a remarkable war shaman who for several years held off both Mexico and the United States in fierce defense of Apache lands. 

Geronimo: His Own Story has been revised and edited, with an introduction and notes, by Frederick Turner. The revised edition includes the 1906 preface by S.M. Barrett; a 33 page introduction by Turner; a "Note on the Text," which describes the genesis of the book; a map, "Apache Country, 1865-1886"; a bibliography; and a generous collection of photographs showing both Geronimo at various stages in his life, and other people of his times. Barrett's introduction tells how the text was delivered orally by Geronimo, and how translator Asa Daklugie helped Barrett turn it into book form. Indeed, in his introduction Turner notes that Geronimo's story is "a preliterate and essentially a prewhite narrative."....[Geronimo, His Own Story] is an encounter with an extraordinary human being whose voice remains passionate and compelling after all these decades. --Michael J. Mazza

 


 

 

 

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