John Taylor is an American writer, critic, and translator who was born in Des Moines in 1952. He studied mathematics at the University of Idaho (graduating in 1974), then literature and philosophy at the University of Hamburg (Germany), where he was a Rotary International Fellow. He is the author of eleven volumes of short prose and poetry. His most recent titles include The Dark Brightness (Xenos Books), Grassy Stairways (The MadHat Press), Remembrance of Water & Twenty-Five Trees (The Bitter Oleander Press), and a “double book” co-authored with Pierre Chappuis, A Notebook of Clouds & A Notebook of Ridges (The Fortnightly Review). Many of his books have been translated into French, four into Italian, and one into Serbian, while selected poems, stories, and essays have appeared in a dozen other languages. Taylor has also translated some of the key Modern Greek, Italian, and especially French poets. His essays on European literature have been gathered in five volumes by Transaction Publishers (now Routledge): A Little Tour through European Poetry, Into the Heart of European Poetry, and the three-volume Paths to Contemporary French Literature. He has lived in France since 1977. After living in Paris until 1987, he moved to Angers, in the lower Loire Valley.
Mysteries of the Body and the Mind
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Expanding the themes in The Presence of Things Past, his debut collection of stories, John Taylor reveals himself to be a master of the intimate in Mysteries of the Body and the Mind. Set in Iowa, Idaho, and France (where the author has lived since 1977), these twenty-four stories “act as a sort of reverse coming of age,” as Brian McCombie put it in his review of the first edition in The Bloomsbury Review, “with the memory evoked only now beginning to truly resonate in the main character’s life.” Lost love, unrequited love, or found love often function as compelling narrative impetuses. In subtle, allusive prose enriched by his long dialogue with European literature, this sensitive writer meditates on the passing of time and the quest for selfhood. Funny, sad stories with a final ironic twist are blended with short, dreamlike ruminations. Composed in a variety of styles, Taylor’s engaging prose goes straight to the reader’s heart.
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586541040
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586541057
The Presence of Things Past
Publication Date: October 13, 2020
Collecting stories from John Taylor’s upbringing in Des Moines, these “charming evocations of a Midwestern childhood” (as the French film director Louis Malle called them), recall an “average” neighborhood in the 1950s and 1960s. The death of the author’s mother gives rise to these sensitive reminiscences, which also conjure up first loves, playmates, and a motley assortment of true-to-life characters who express their modest joys and lasting secret sorrows. The Presence of Things Past (the title alludes to the eleventh book of the Confessions of Saint Augustine), is a tribute to the presence of a lost mother, a lost neighborhood, a lost city, and a lost childhood. The first American magazine editor to note the originality of these “little gems of fresh and precise prose,” as he described them, was John Milton of the South Dakota Review. “I can turn to any one of the pieces in this collection at random,” he wrote on the back cover of the Story Line edition, “and be delighted by a cameo incident or characterization that is familiar yet refreshingly new, real and yet so precisely and perceptively written that reality is both heightened and brightened. The brevity of the pieces is deceptive. The French influence is there. The effect does not depend on catchy endings, on twists and surprises in plot. It is, rather, felt in the ‘recollections in tranquility’ and in the masterful use of language.”
Tradepaper: $20 / ISBN: 9781586541064
Casebound: $30 / ISBN: 9781586541071