The Dictionary contains 135 biographical-critical essays on contemporary Catholic American poets, dramatists, and fiction writers. Not since Hoehn's Catholic Authors: Contemporary Biographical Sketches, 1930-1947 has such an inventory of Catholic American writers appeared. The Works By bibliographies contain all of each author's productions be they fiction, poetry, drama or non-fiction. The Works About bibliographies to each essay cite five critical studies or, where none exists, book reviews, plus references to other biographical sources. The Introduction explores the diversity of belief in contemporary Catholic expression. An essay by Professor Genaro Padilla examines the place of Catholicism in the work of Hispanic writers in the United States today. A partial list of the authors contained here reads like a Who's Who of American literary luminaries and includes such writers as John Gregory Dunne, Mary Gordon, Flannery O'Connor, Walker Percy, Don Delillo, Robert Stone, and Maureen Howard.
As a resource for further research on the authors contained, for continued reflection on the various forms of contemporary Catholic American writing, and for renewed scholarly interest in many excellent and often-neglected literary texts, the Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Catholic American Writing deserves a place in most academic and public libraries. Generalists and English teachers and majors will find its perusal fascinating and rewarding.
"The title might also have used the phrase 'ex-Catholic American Writing'; for the introduction admits that the authors 'constitute a wide spectrum of contemporary Catholic American experience . . . ' and that 'at some time in their lives . . . they were all baptized Catholics . . . whether or not they have accepted Catholicism as the permanent organizing value. . . . ' This broad interpretation allows a wide range of writers--Mary McCarthy, Christopher Durang, Eugene O'Neill, Jack Kerouac, Walker Percy, J.F. Powers, for example. The book, which does not claim inclusiveness, selects 135 authors described in biographical-critical essays up to 4 pages long. Entries, by 67 contributors, vary in terms of the emphasis on criticism, biography, and explanation, if any, of the Catholic connection; they end with selected bibliographies of works by and about the author. Codes indicate general literary biographical reference sources where most if not all of these writers appear. Individual Hispanic American writers are not included but there is a general essay on Catholicism in their work. An index, bibliographic essay (indicating that other works on specifically Catholic authors are outdated), and a list of contributors conclude the work. . . . Recommended for academic and public libraries interested in this perspective."
"Editor Tynan seeks to fill a void in the study of modern Catholic writers with this dictionary. The 135 biographical-critical essays focus on American poets, dramatists, and fiction writers, all of whom have woven threads of Catholicism into their works. Each entry, written by separate researchers, includes a critique of the writer's style, a short biography, some analysis of the author's works, and Works By and Works About listings. Since an extensive reference work on Chicano literature is presently underway, Tynan excludes Hispanic writers from his list. However, the book begins with an essay by Professor Genaro Padilla examining the role of Catholicism in Hispanic literature."
"This bio-critical dictionary includes the full spectrum of Catholic authors among its 135 subjects. This is but a sampling of twentieth-century dramatists, novelists, and poets who are 'Catholic writers' by virtue of having been baptized a Catholic at some point in their lives regardless of the explicitness of Catholic themes in their writing or the degree of their personal observance of Catholic religious practice. The signed essays, arranged alphabetically by biographee, summarize each writer's life, examine his or her works with special emphasis on the author's treatment of Catholic themes, and list primary and selected secondary works. Every author checked in large sample is also treated in Contemporary Authors, but never with the same depth or insight. Because most of the authors (e.g., John Berryman, Pete Hamill, and Eugene O'Neill) are catholic writers rather than Catholic writers, this is valuable to a wide audience and will become even more valuable if indexed in Biography and Genealogy Master Index."
"The nearest predecessor and competitor issued forty years ago. Tynan now found so much material that he had to settle for 'representativeness.' Even so, Hispanic writers are left 'notably unrepresented' because other projects are covering them."