View Full Version : Short Fiction Masters, Edgar Lee: Spoon River Anthology. v1. 20 July 07

07-21-2007, 12:52 AM
I was surprised that this had not been posted before and I am glad to correct this oversight of one of the greatest books from the Chicago school -- other members would be Carl Sandburg, Studs Turkel, Shel Silverstein, Steve Goodman, and Bob Gibson. (The first three are writers and the last three are musicians with the same views. Yes, one is in both groups.)

This is not a story in the traditional sense as the article from Wikipedia notes:
Spoon River Anthology (1915), by Edgar Lee Masters, is a collection of unusual, short, free-form poems that collectively describe the life of the fictional small town of Spoon River, named after the real Spoon River that ran near Masters' hometown. The collection includes two hundred and twelve separate characters, all providing two-hundred forty-four soliloquies.

Each poem is an epitaph of a dead citizen, delivered by the dead themselves. They speak about the sorts of things one might expect. Some recite their histories and turning points, others make observations of life from the outside, and petty ones complain of the treatment of their graves, while few tell how they really died. Speaking without reason to lie or fear the consequences, they construct a picture of life in their town that is shorn of all facades. The interplay of various villagers — e.g. a bright and successful man crediting his parents for all he's accomplished, and an old woman weeping because he is secretly her illegitimate child — forms a gripping, if not pretty, whole.

The subject of afterlife receives only the occasional brief mention, and even those seem to be contradictory.

Some of the stories are short, less than a page. I have formatted the book the way I would like to see it with each entry starting on its own page. I feel it adds to the enjoyment of the book.

From the song Spoon River sung by Bob Gibson:
All of our lives are entwined to begin with here in Spoon River.

Clay Eals
07-21-2007, 03:05 PM
Good to see your post about "Spoon River," a Michael Smith song popularized by Steve Goodman. Goodman often doesn't get his due. Thought you might be interested in an eight-year project of mine that has come to fruition -- an 800-page biography of Goodman published in May, "Steve Goodman: Facing the Music." Please check my Internet site below for more info. Just trying to spread the word. Feel free to do the same!

Clay Eals
1728 California Ave. S.W. #301
Seattle, WA 98116-1958

(206) 935-7515
(206) 484-8008

11-11-2007, 09:59 PM
Spoon River's format is well suited for reading on mobile devices, but you might be interested to know that there is a new online edition of Spoon River Anthology ( at

that includes cross-references, comments and other new features.