Robert Day has invented a new form, the Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind memoirs–brief, whimsical, sometimes touching, reminiscences about his brushes (often friendships) with literary greatness. He treats Shakespeare, William Stafford, Mavis Gallant, John Barth, Ray Carver, Walter Bernstein, and Michael de Montaigne. Some he met and knew in person; others he met in his mind. But the collision is sparkling in its reverent irreverence, airy, gossamer-thin, a playful and informal jeu d’esprit that takes itself not very seriously, yet with flashes of seriousness and wit.
Robert Day’s novel The Last Cattle Drive was a Book-of-the-Month Club selection. His short fiction has won a number of awards and citations, including two Seaton Prizes, a Pen Faulkner/NEA prize, and Best American Short Story and Pushcart citations. His fiction has been published by Tri-Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, Kansas Quarterly, North Dakota Quarterly, and New Letters among other belles-lettres magazines. He is the author of two novellas, In My Stead and The Four Wheel Drive Quartet, as well as three collections of short fiction: Speaking French in Kansas, Where I Am Now, and The Billion Dollar Dream. His nonfiction has been published in the Washington Post Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes FYI, Modern Maturity, World Literature Today, American Scholar, and Numero Cinq. As a member of the Prairie Writers Circle his essays have been reprinted in numerous newspapers and journals nationwide, and on such internet sites as Counterpunch.
Recent book publications include We Should Have Come By Water(poems), The Committee to Save the World (literary non-fiction), and Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind (memoirs). Forth-coming publications include: Let Us Imagine Lost Love (a novel, Fall 1015), and Robert Day for President: an Embellished Campaign Autobiography (Spring, 2016).
Among his awards and fellowships are a National Endowment to the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Yaddo and McDowell Fellowships, a Maryland Arts Council Award, and the Edgar Wolfe Award for distinguished fiction. His teaching positions include The Iowa Writers Workshop; The University of Kansas; and the Graduate Faculty at Montaigne College, The University of Bordeaux. He is past Acting President of the Associated Writing Programs; the founder and former Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House; and founder and Publisher of the Literary House Press at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland.
The poets and writers Bob Day attends to here seem not arrayed hierarchically nor, so far as I can tell, in any schematic pattern other than Bob’s inscrutable interest. He treats Shakespeare, William Stafford, Mavis Gallant, John Barth, Ray Carver, Walter Bernstein, and Michael de Montaigne. His gathering of word folk has the sweet scent of memorial but there is also a brass-taste of reality and mortality stands always firmly in the room. It might be said Bob employs his scribes to offer, as he looks upon them, plain and good instruction in the art of writing.
—Douglas Glover, author of Elle and Savage Love
People die and memories fade, so it’s good to remember your living moments, as Bob Day does. Who wants to write obituaries? His swift sketches of meeting and hanging out with fellow writers or just fellow humans preserve the warmth of the occasions and their times. Lucky aliens who find this capsule.
—Andrei Codrescu, author of So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems
The buzzword these days for someone who wanders about poking idly into things (and being brilliant and witty about them) is flâneur. But when I read Day’s essays I think, not of Walter Benjamin, but of the waggish early 18th century essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and the journals they published, The Tatler and The Spectator, whose purpose it was “to enliven morality with wit; and to temper wit with morality.” Day’s essays are intelligent, literate conversation at its best—all too rare these days—written with aplomb in the author’s trademark amiable and self-ironic style.
—Dave Smith, author of Bluestone: New and Selected Poems, and other books