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de Weever coverEmilie Glen (1906-1995) was best known as a poet, but she started her writing career in fiction, first published in H.L. Mencken’s The American Mercury, The Prairie Schooner, and other magazines. In these nineteen short stories, Glen presents a portrait of mid-20th century America, using penetrating character portraits to show a world already nearly-gone, its customs and manners as odd to some of us as those of an Amazonian people.

A keen observer of manners and of the human drama, Emilie Glen centers sometimes on family: a high-stakes croquet game among heirs, the prize a Bermuda resort hotel; a mother and daughter competing for the same man; an Irish mother and daughter trapped in poverty in Hell's Kitchen, each wanting “the best”; and a wealthy matron in the Hamptons desperate to stop her son from marrying a Latina girl.

From a time when religion ruled the heartland, Glen writes about a town struggling with the worst preacher ever; a minister fired for his liberal values during the McCarthy era; and a woman forced to choose between becoming a minister’s wife, or being ordained herself to take over her father’s church.

Other stories are wonderful character portraits: a country woman whose life is changed when she comes into possession of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; a bored office worker with a secret hobby of purse-snatching; a businessman who would rather be a street beggar; the man determined to be top of the pecking order among the Central Park bird-watchers; a young girl who will do anything to get her first ballet shoes; a dancer locked in a fierce rivalry and obsession over a Siamese cat; a husband and wife living off the earnings of a child model; an industrialist whose entire existence is defined by ladies’ feet; and a sad-sack song-writer knocking on the doors of music publishers.

This volume also includes “From This Window,” Glen’s experiment in prose poetry, which appeared in New Directions in 1953. One work, "Cup of Gold," was edited and completed from a first-draft manuscript. Only two of the nineteen stories existed in manuscript.


Her daughter-in-law was pointin’ like an arch over them books, shovin’ ’em in too tight for their good, and goin’ on about there bein’ no room .... “not for two encylopedias, Mother Burridge, not both the Americana and the Britannica.”

“The Britannica, did you say? Could I just travel my eye over it?”

No call to hand her the book upside down like she couldn’t read or somethin’, just a poor immigrant from Lancashire. What did these Americans know about the English school system where you learned more in grammar school than her son was gettin’ under the G.I. Bill? Maybe her speech was a bit the worse for livin’ with her husband so long, but she knew her English grammar right enough. “Charles would win the Americana in an essay contest,” said her daughter-in-law, “right while we’re in the thick of paying off the six hundred owed on the Britannica.”

“I couldn’t have the loan of it, could I?”

“Why, that would solve our storage problem nicely.”

“Ya know, I have a hankerin’ for this kind o’ book. I had the makins’ of a teacher only my father wouldn’t let me accept a scholarship that would’ve meant givin’ up his whiskey to pay my expenses. That’s somethin’ I never got over, I guess -—’’ Her hand on the slippery-cool page was takin’ her back to some early reader, and beyond the pitchers she was seein’ the old school-room with her own scrubby self at the inked-up desk.

“This ain’t no double talk is it?” she asked her daughter-in-law.

“I can have the encyclopedia, can’t I — the loan of it, I mean?”

“Why, of course you can. You’re really doing us a favor.”

“Then I’ll go put it in my suitcase.”

“It? The one volume? There are twenty-four in all, you know.”

“Oh, I didn’t have no idea. I dass’n’t ask for the loan of twenty-four. Besides, I couldn’t tote ’em all the way to Meadville, New York, in my suitcase.”

“Of course not, Mother Burridge. We’ll send them along.”

“Which set am I gettin’ the loan of — the Britannica?”

“Why not, since the Americana fits our shelves and the Britannica doesn’t?”

“Bein’ British and all, there’s something about it bein’ the Britannica—” Britannica — Encylopaedia Britannica — it had a grand staircase sound, the ring of empire .... She’d need a fine bookcase. Her husband could drive her up to Buffalo for them unpainted shelves they had at Sears and Roebuck’s. All the way to Meadville with the countryside whizzin’ past the train winda, she tried to hold onto the pitcher of anything as elegant as the Britannica in her egg crate of a settin’ room. Not a stick of furniture would be worth an auction if they was to die sudden, and it would all be crowdin’ around the Britannica like folks before Buckingham Palace.

With Hal workin’ overtime at the plant it was days before he could drive her to Sears and Roebuck’s. When she asked the clerk what size bookcase would just fit the Britannica, the dumb-head asks, “What is it — how big a book?” “It’s no it,” she told him, “it’s them — twenty-four volumes in all, not countin’ the year book.” Nothin’ was tall enough, not even the sectionals. Shelves for her Britannica had to be custom built like a fine motor car.

The 222nd publication of The Poet's Press. ISBN 9780922558810. 6 x 9 inches, 196 pages. $16.95. CLICK HERE to order this book from Amazon.

Or, CLICK HERE to purchase the PDF ebook for $2.00 via Payhip.


Version 24 Updated February 24, 2024

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