From the Iowa Writers Workshop to the halls of Congress and the National Endowment for the Arts, from the world of literary magazines and writers' conferences to the bizarre realm of the late-twentieth-century American English department, Literary Luxuries takes the reader on a guided tour of American literary life in our time--and the forces threatening its existence.
Joe David Bellamy has been a significant figure on the literary scene during the last three decades; as a "literary Everyman," he offers in Literary Luxuries a distinctive and valuable perspective on the culture wars, on education and the imagination, on particular writers and major literary and aesthetic movements, on the role of government in fostering cultural development, and on the day-to-day strife of the writer's life in the United States.
As director of the literature program of the National Endowment for the Arts, Bellamy had the unenviable task of trying to persuade Congress and ordinary citizens that American literature is worthy of support, and in Literary Luxuries he continues that debate and helps us to understand its implications: "Literature is our national treasury of language and style and our best reckoning about human life, as it is lived in this time and place."
Part memoir, part critique, part impassioned defense of American literary culture and the values it espouses and struggles to uphold, Literary Luxuries offers unforgettable commentary on the literary life in the United States during the last decades of the twentieth century as described from the perspective of one of its key participants.
Director of the literature program of the National Endowment for the Arts from 1990 through 1992, Joe David Bellamy won the Editors' Book Award for his novel Suzi Sinzinnati, and his collection of short fiction, Atomic Love, was an AWP Award Series selection. He is also author or editor of ten other books, including The New Fiction, Superfiction, American Poetry Observed, and two collections of poetry. A former president of both the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) and the Coordinating Council of Literary Magazines (CCLM), Bellamy was the founding editor and publisher of Fiction International magazine and press. He has taught fiction writing and contemporary American literature for more than twenty-five years at St. Lawrence University, George Mason University, the University of Iowa, and elsewhere.