This book has its distant origins in my Ph.D. thesis, and while writing it I’ve tried to remember the good advice of my supervisors, Tony Tanner and Susan Manning, as well as that of Leonard Michaels, with whom I also worked briefly. I would also like to thank Robin and Tad Krauze, with whom I stayed in New York while doing some interviews, and Christina Biichmann for hospitality and book parcels from California. Pam Thurschwell and John Beck kindly invited me to give talks on some of this material, Alison Light commented very helpfully on the Introduction, and Janet Boddy did some inventive last-minute reference-chasing. I am very lucky to be able to draw on many years of conversations about short fiction with Ali Smith. My overwhelming debt is to David Trotter, without whom this book and, more importantly, I would be very much the poorer.
This book goes, with love, to my parents on whose well-stocked bookshelves I first encountered, and keep finding, American short stories.