Beth Lordan Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Beth Lordan is the author of the novel August Heat (1989), which has been highly praised for its Magical Realist evocation of American small-town life.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Beth Lordan received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in 1993, and her short fiction has won prizes from the New York State Council on the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. And Both Shall Row was named one of The New York Times notable books for 1998.


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Cameron, Julia. “Weaving a Picture of a Small Town.” Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 10, 1989, p. 13. Says that August Heat uses a form of literary pointillism to create a picture of a sour, dyspeptic town. Calls Lordan a fine writer who is perhaps sometimes too fine, too writerly; says her story could use some plot to thicken it.

Glover, Charlotte L. “And Both Shall Row.” Review of And Both Shall Row, by Beth Lordan. Library Journal, 123 (July, 1998): 39. A review that argues that storytelling does not get any better than this collection. Compares Lordan’s characters to those of Garrison Keillor; says each story illuminates a different aspect of a community, providing a rich collage of experiences and emotions.

Hand, Elizabeth. “The Village Fairy Tale.” Review of August Heat, by Beth Lordan. The Washington Post, August 22, 1989, p. E3. A review of Lordan’s novel August Heat that says the book creates a vision of postwar small-town America so fully realized yet so strange to a modern sensibility that it seems like an American Brigadoon. Says Lordan’s prose style recalls that of Eudora Welty and Carson McCullers.

Houston, Robert. “Luminous Husbands and Geriatric Cows.” The New York Times, August 30, 1998, p. 19. Calls Lordan’s And Both Shall Row a strong collection and praises Lordan’s voice as “utterly assured and utterly distinctive.” Says Lordan focuses on the kinds of experience that go beyond words and the kinds of understanding that cannot be named but only described.

Kirkus Review. Review of And Both Shall Row, by Beth Lordan. 66 (June 15, 1998): 834. Claims that the title novella is the best of its kind since Tillie Olsen’s Tell Me a Riddle (1961). Says the collection explores the buried visionary dimensions of rustic midwesterners. Compares the collection to Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919).

Publishers Weekly. Review of And Both Shall Row, by Beth Lordan. 245 (June 22, 1998): 83. Says that Lordan can weave a “dense tapestry out of the most mundane detail.” Says her precise prose and subtle wisdom heighten an ominous tone in the stories. Claims that small, understated epiphanies bring the characters comfort in struggles over disappointment.

Wanner, Irene. “Collection Tells Tales of Emotion.” Review of And Both Shall Row, by Beth Lordan. The Seattle Times, October 11, 1998, p. M10. This review suggests that whereas “The Snake” has the clearest conflict and the strongest ending, the title story creates the most memorable and fascinating character study.