I must have been no more than fifteen or sixteen years old when I first chanced upon Winesburg, Ohio. Gripped by these stories and sketches of Sherwood Anderson's small-town "grotesques," I felt that he was opening for me new depths of experience, touching upon half-buried truths which nothing in my young life had prepared me for. A New York City boy who never saw the crops grow or spent time in the small towns that lay sprinkled across America,... more...

BOOK I CHAPTER I At the beginning of the long twilight of a summer evening, Sam McPherson, a tall big-boned boy of thirteen, with brown hair, black eyes, and an amusing little habit of tilting his chin in the air as he walked, came upon the station platform of the little corn-shipping town of Caxton in Iowa. It was a board platform, and the boy walked cautiously, lifting his bare feet and putting them down with extreme deliberateness on the... more...

THE DUMB MAN There is a story.—I cannot tell it.—I have no words. The story is almost forgotten but sometimes I remember. The story concerns three men in a house in a street. If I could say the words I would sing the story. I would whisper it into the ears of women, of mothers. I would run through the streets saying it over and over. My tongue would be torn loose—it would rattle against my teeth. The three men are in a room... more...

INTRODUCTION I was talking the other day to Alfred Coppard, who has steered more successfully than most English story writers away from the Scylla and Charybdis of the modern artist. He told me that he had been reading several new novels and volumes of short stories by contemporary American writers with that awakened interest in the civilization we are framing which is so noticeable among English writers during the past three years. He asked me... more...

CHAPTER I Hugh McVey was born in a little hole of a town stuck on a mud bank on the western shore of the Mississippi River in the State of Missouri. It was a miserable place in which to be born. With the exception of a narrow strip of black mud along the river, the land for ten miles back from the town—called in derision by river men "Mudcat Landing"—was almost entirely worthless and unproductive. The soil, yellow, shallow and stony,... more...

CHAPTER I Uncle Charlie Wheeler stamped on the steps before Nance McGregor's bake-shop on the Main Street of the town of Coal Creek Pennsylvania and then went quickly inside. Something pleased him and as he stood before the counter in the shop he laughed and whistled softly. With a wink at the Reverend Minot Weeks who stood by the door leading to the street, he tapped with his knuckles on the showcase. "It has," he said, waving attention to the... more...