Calisher, Hortense

Tagged: Author

(1911-2009) US author of several Mainstream novels set mostly on the US East Coast and in New York itself, which she rendered with Gothic intensity. After an sf allegory, "In the Absence of Angels" (21 April 1951 The New Yorker), which associates the military occupation of the USA with a poet's own imprisonment, and the very well-known horror story "Heartburn" (January 1951 The American Mercury), came her sf novel Journal from Ellipsia (1965), which depicts a somewhat metaphysical Alternate History where everything – as in E M Forster's famous dictum – connects with everything, especially the transcendental, genderless sex that permeates the narrative. The much more demanding Near Future Mysteries of Motion (1983) is set in space as a kind of NASA ark, with 100 selected passengers, attempts to dock into a Space Station, while the instigator of the trip composes a journal – several of her novels are in journal form – whose retrospective elements darkly portray the Earth below, where Climate Change has become catastrophic. The Small Bang: A Literary Mystery (1992) as by Jack Fenno is an Equipoisal tale mixing Reincarnation, possible Alternate Worlds, Sex and Doppelgangers into a complex, sometimes metafictional mix. [JC]

Hortense Calisher

born New York: 20 December 1911

died New York: 13 January 2009

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