Clarence Major Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Clarence Major is the author of a number of novels and books of poetry, including Parking Lots: A Poem (1992) and Configurations: New and Selected Poems 1958-1998 (1999). He has also edited a number of collections, like The New Black Poetry (1969) and Calling the Wind: Twentieth-Century African-American Short Stories (1993). In addition, he has written several critical studies, including The Dark and Feeling: Black American Writers and Their Work (1974), and Dictionary of Afro-American Slang (1970, reprinted in 1994 as Juba to Jive: A Dictionary of African-American Slang).


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Clarence Major has won numerous awards and grants in his career, including a Pushcart Prize for poetry in 1976 and a Fulbright-Hays Exchange Award in 1981-1983. His novel My Amputations (1986) won the Western States Book Award, Such Was the Season (1987) was a Literary Guild Selection, Painted Turtle: Woman with Guitar (1988) was a New York Times notable book, Fun and Games was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Critics Award, and his collection Calling the Wind: Twentieth-Century African-American Short Stories (1993) was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Bell, Bernard W., ed. Clarence Major and His Art: Portraits of an African American Postmodernist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001. Critical essays on Major’s work are interspersed with essays, poems, and paintings by Major himself.

Bell, Bernard W. “Introduction: Clarence Major’s Double Consciousness as a Black Postmodernist Artist.” African American Review 28 (Spring, 1994): 5-10. Bell introduces this special issue of the journal, which includes eight “Writings by Clarence Major,” a section of his artwork, as well as critical analyses of his poetry and fiction.

Bolling, Doug. “A Reading of Clarence Major’s Short Fiction.” Black American Literature Forum 13 (1979): 51-56. This early study of Major’s short stories recognizes that the artist “works with ‘process,’ with open forms, with the inconclusive, and with the interplay of formal and informal tensions.” One of the best analyses of Major’s short fiction, the essay includes discussions of “Ten Pecan Pies,” “Fun and Games,” and “An Area in the Cerebral Hemisphere.”

Klinkowitz, Jerome. “Clarence Major’s Innovative Fiction.” African American Review 28 (Spring 1994): 57-63. While dealing primarily with Major’s novels, Klinkowitz recognizes the “anti-realistic (and even anti-mimetic)” strain to much of Major’s fiction.

Klinkowitz, Jerome. The Life of Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977. Chapter 8 of Klinkowitz’s early study of a dozen postmodernist American writers focuses on Major and recognizes both the lyricism and the anticonventional strains of Major’s fiction.

O’Brien, John. “Clarence Major.” In Interviews with Black Writers. New York: Liveright, 1973. This fourteen-page interview with Major sheds light on the writer’s life and work.

Selzer, Linda Furgerson. “Reading the Painterly Text: Clarence Major’s ‘The Slave Trade: View from the Middle Passage.’” African American Review 33 (Summer, 1999): 209-229. Analyzes Major’s poem, emphasizing the historical contexts of artistic production.

Weixlmann, Joe. “Clarence Major: A Checklist of Criticism.” Obsidian 4, no. 2 (1978): 101-113. This checklist brings together some of the most important works of literary criticism written about Major’s fiction.