"The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe" stands as the most comprehensive edition of Thomas Wolfe's short fiction to date. Collected by Francis E. Skipp, these fifty-eight stories span the breadth of Thomas Wolfe's career, from hte uninhibited young writer meticulously describing the enchanting birth of springtime in "The Train and the City" to his mature, sober account of a terrible lynching in "The Child by Tiger". Thirty-five of these stories have never before been collected, and "The Spanish Letter" is published here for the first time. Vital, compassionate, remarkably attuned to character, scene, and social context, "The Complete Short Stories of Thomas Wolfe" represents the last work we have from the author of "Look Homeward", "Angel", who was considered "the most promising writer of his generation" (The New York Times).
Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of Wolfe's death and a suitable occasion for a retrospective. Of the 58 stories in this volume, 35 have never before been collected, and one, ``The Spanish Letter,'' is published for the first time. Wolfe was not a short story writer; most of these fragments were plucked from his massive manuscripts, and many would be more appropriately classified as essay or memoir. ``The Spanish Letter,'' relating the author's visits to Nazi Germany, strongly condemns the ``poisoning'' of German culture and society by Hitler and his followers. It's a fine piece, but elsewhere Wolfe's well-known faults are conspicuously displayed. Even one of the best known of these stories, ``Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,'' now embarrasses with its inept attempt to reproduce a Brooklyn accent. The puerile ``Portrait of a Literary Critic'' and heavy-handed ``Justice Is Blind'' are equally disappointing. With all its flaws, this collection serves as a useful reminder of Wolfe's once-formidable presence and the wide influence he formerly exerted. (May 5)