Books: Reviving the Story-Telling Art

After a long depression, making believe is paying off

In America, fiction is always in trouble. The novel has been receiving extreme unction for 20 years, the short story is the waif of literature, perennially searching for a home. Yet this fall, scores of worthy novels have issued from distinguished publishers; stories still find a loyal readership. Random House Editorial Director Jason Epstein notes that James Michener's novel Chesapeake is selling twice as well as his last one. A first novel, Final Payments by Mary Gordon, has sold 40,000 copies. Says Epstein: The outlook...

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