Friday, February 22, 2013


Commentary © James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected, All Rights Reserved

The eighth and last installment of short stories published in Sindbad Vail’s POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY has been added to the primary entry for the anthology, the fourth entry for July 2012 in the blog archive.  H. E. Francis’ THE FROG LADY was originally published in POINTS 19, Spring 1954.  Francis has led a very active life in the literary world as evidenced in the following biographical entry authored by Carole Ottaway Beasley, East Mississippi Community College.

H. E. Francis (1924- ) is an author, teacher, translator, and traveler whose works transcend the traditional southern writer's milieu. Despite spending the majority of his life in Alabama, Francis's fiction is set in many different locations and features characters of different nationalities. Although he writes mainly prose, some have characterized his writing style as poetic. His upbringing as the son of a fundamentalist Baptist minister in New England also influences his work, which nevertheless creates familiar characters with universal appeal, with whom readers can empathize.

Herbert Edward Francis Jr. was born on January 11, 1924, in Bristol, Rhode Island, a cotton and mill town steeped in the mixed cultures of a New England port city. His parents were Herbert Edward Francis, a Baptist minister, and Evelyn Verity Francis. He has one younger brother, Raymond Franklin Francis. He names his grandfather as the greatest mentor of his life and credits his grandfather with awakening within him an awareness of tragedy and suffering. A reoccurring character in his fiction, Tom Verity, is based on his maternal grandfather who was a strong person despite a debilitating physical injury.

After graduating from Colt Memorial High School as valedictorian, Francis worked in the accounting department of a factory that produced zippers. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps as a staff sergeant and was stationed in England, France, and Italy, which inspired his later passion for travel. After the war, he attended the University of Wisconsin on the GI Bill, graduating in two years with a B.A. in English and Spanish in 1948. While at Wisconsin, he became enamored of the Spanish language and Spanish literature while studying under Antonio Sanchez-Barbudo and the Nobel candidate Arturo Barea. Two years later, he graduated from Brown University with a master's degree in. He was awarded a Fulbright scholarship and attended Oxford University in England in 1953 and 1954.

In 1950, he became a faculty member in the English Department at Pennsylvania State University. While there, he published his first two short stories, "The Broken Bottle" (1951) and "Journey to Emily" (1952) in The Prairie Schooner. In 1954, he moved to the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, where he published two more short stories: "The Rock Garden" in Folio (1953) and "The Darkness Is So Big" (1954) in The Prairie Schooner. These works established him as a writer of short fiction.

From 1956 to 1958, Francis taught at De Kalb State University in De Kalb, Illinois, and then was on the English faculty at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, from 1958 to 1966. He was awarded two additional Fulbright awards in 1964 and 1966 to the National University in Mendoza, Argentina, and the first collections of his short stories were published in that country. These well-received volumes include Five Miles to December; As Fish, As Birds, As Grass; and All the People I Never Had. Also in 1966, his short story "One of the Boys" was published in the Southwest Review and won the John H. McGinnis Annual Memorial Award. Francis's ties to the Spanish language and Spanish literature were further strengthened during his time in Argentina, where he found a community of kindred spirits, bought a house, and adopted a son.

In the fall of 1966, Francis accepted a faculty and writer-in-residence position in the English Department at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH). He continued his association with Argentina with the award of a professional exchange from 1966 through 1967. During this time, he wrote many short stories that were published in various periodicals, reviewed various works, and founded the magazine Poem,  for which he served as editor or coeditor until 1973.

Francis's years at UAH were productive ones, and he further established himself as a short story writer. In addition to his teaching and writing, Francis also translated works by Argentine writers Antonio Di Benedetto, Daniel Moyano, Juan Jose Hernandez, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Norberto Luis Romero. Francis's short stories, novels, and translations have been widely published in both English and Spanish and have been well received in this country as well as in Argentina and Spain.

Francis retired from UAH in 1988, and the university recognized his many achievements by awarding him an honorary doctorate of human letters and also by establishing (with the Ruth Hindman Foundation) an annual short story competition in his honor.

H. E. Francis divides his time between Huntsville and Madrid, Spain, where many of his friends from Argentina settled after they were exiled during the military takeover by General Jorge Videla's army in 1976. Francis's Argentinean editor was murdered during this military coup. He also makes regular trips to Argentina to visit grandchildren and great grandchildren.

The themes found in the works of H. E. Francis include isolation, obsession, and human dignity. Many of his characters recognize their isolation and reach out to other characters. Through this gesture his characters recognize a self truth which the reader shares. Francis credits living in the South as an outsider with contributing to his understanding of isolation and place. Ultimately he explores the human heart and the dignity that can be acquired through pain and sorrow.

Selected Works by H. E. Francis

The Itinerary of Beggars (1973)

Had (1973)

The History of a Man in Despair (1976)   

Naming Things: Stories (1980)

A Disturbance of Gulls and Other Stories (1983)

The Sudden Trees and Other Stories (1999)

Goya, Are You With Me Now? (1999)

The Invisible Country (2003)

I'll Never Leave You: Stories (2004)

Additional Resources

Byrd, Sheila Hovis. "H. E. Francis." In American Short-Story Writers Since World War II, Fifth Series, edited by Richard E. Lee and Patrick Meanor, pp. 128-136. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2007.

Cantrell, J. J. "An Interview with H. E. Francis." Kansas City: BkMk Press, August 16, 2009.

Kingsbury, Pam. "A Conversation with H. E. Francis." First Draft 11.2 (Spring. 2005):11-13.

Carole Ottaway Beasley
East Mississippi Community College

Thursday, January 31, 2013


© James A. Harrod, Copyright Protected; All Rights Reserved

A copy of POINTS 8 has recently been acquired and added to the collection of POINTS journals being examined in this blog.  Details of the contents and stories by Behan and Richler have been added to the entry for POINTS 7 located in the blog archive from March of 2012.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


The seventh installment of short stories published in Sindbad Vail’s POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY has been added to the primary entry for the anthology, the fourth entry for July 2012 in the blog archive.

Arlette Anneville’s THE GENTLEMAN AND HIS COMPANION was published in POINTS 18, January 1954.  John Goodwin’s THE BATHROOM IN BUDAPEST WAS PUBLISHED IN POINTS 19, MAY 1954.

Extant biographies of both authors from the POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY are included with the stories.

Contemporary searches for additional biographical information on Arlette Anneville have not been successful.  The following information on John Goodwin is from an entry at the following link.

J O H N   B.   L.   G O O D W I N

John Blair Linn Goodwin (1912-1994) was a novelist, poet, and painter, as well as a discerning collector of modern art. The son of Walter L. Goodwin and Elizabeth Sage Goodwin, he was born in Manhattan, and grew up in Hartford, Connecticut. Later he maintained homes in Manhattan, West Palm Beach, Florida, and the Netherlands Antilles and socialized with a wide and interesting circle of friends that included the novelists Paul Bowles and Christopher Isherwood, the artist and poet Jean Cocteau, and the painters Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy, and Roberto Matta. Goodwin was born into a distinguished family of artists, collectors, and art patrons. The Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut, preserves a nineteenth-century reception room from the home of one of his forebears, and other members of the family have been generous donors both to the Athenaeum collection and to its library. His uncle, Philip L. Goodwin, was one of the architects of the Museum of Modern Art in New York as well as a member of its board of directors, and his older brother, Henry Sage Goodwin, was a highly regarded architect and painter. The Surrealist artist, patron, and collector Kay Sage was also a member of the family. This cultivated background informed and enriched his entire life and was a formative influence on his collecting. 

A well-informed world traveler, Goodwin often wrote knowledgeably about places he had visited. His novel, The Idols and the Prey (New York, 1953) was set in Haiti, and his novella, A View from Fuji (New York, 1963) took place in Japan. He also published poetry, a children's book, The Pleasant Pirate (New York, 1940), and one of his many short stories, "The Cocoon," was included in a 1947 anthology of best American short stories. 

From 1974-1977 the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe exhibited a selection of works from the Goodwin collection, thirteen of which are included in this sale. Upon Goodwin's death in 1994, his collection was inherited by Anthony P. Russo.

Friday, December 28, 2012


The sixth installment of short stories published in Sindbad Vail’s POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY has been added to the primary entry for the anthology, the fourth entry for July 2012 in the blog archive.

Selwyn Kittredge's THE DIARIST was published in POINTS 17. Austryn Wainhouse's LOVE was published in POINTS 18 where is was noted as being an extract from the novel HEDYPHAGETICA to be published by Collection Merlin.

Extant biographies of both authors from the POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY are included with the stories.

Friday, December 7, 2012


The fifth installment of short stories published in Sindbad Vail’s POINTS SHORT STORY ANTHOLOGY has been added to the primary entry for the anthology, the fourth entry for July 2012 in the blog archive.  Harold Brav’s RATS appeared in POINTS 16, and Alexander Trocchi’s THE HOLY MAN appeared in POINTS 17.

A search for details of Harold Brav’s life beyond his association with POINTS has not been successful.  He appears to have been associated with several French films in the capacity of writing sub titles for  The Return of Martin Guerre, Diva, La Provinciale, Mon oncle d'Amerique, and Le Cheval d'Orgueil.

The life of Alexander Trocchi is well documented on the internet.  Some of these references are reproduced in our examination of POINTS 17.

Monday, November 19, 2012


POINTS 2 has been updated with the addition of Lester Mansfield’s Here, Pretty Kitty; Stanley Geist’s Memoirs of a Tourist, Paris 1947; and Gaston Gaoua’s  LES MÉTAMORPHOSES DE SÉBASTIEN VELPUCHE (1).

The additional material has been added to the original entry for POINTS 2 from February, 2012.


Saturday, November 17, 2012


The fourth installment of short stories published in Sindbad Vail’s POINTS SHORTY STORY ANTHOLOGY has been added to the primary entry for the anthology, the fourth entry for July 2012 in the blog archive.  Both stories appeared in POINTS 13, May 1952.

Elliot Stein passed away on Wednesday, November 7, at age 83.  There are numerous references to his life and career currently on the internet, one is reprinted below.

Information regarding Domhnall O’Conaill remains elusive.  There are references to his literary works in various libraries but no biographical information.

Elliott Stein (1928-2012)

NOVEMBER 9, 2012 5:11 PM

When I was an intern at the Village Voice in the mid 2000s, one of my frequent responsibilities was to "type up Elliott." Elliott was Elliott Stein, the critic, programmer, and historian who wrote reviews and capsules for the paper's listings section. He was also the only Voice contributor who didn't use email; Stein's pieces were always hand delivered to the film department, often by the author himself. Transcribing Stein's words was one of the best parts of being a Village Voice intern, and always an education -- both in the art of criticism and in film itself, as the man had a stunningly encyclopedic knowledge of cinema. I learned something from every piece I typed up.

It is with a great deal of sadness that I report that Elliott Stein passed away on Wednesday at the age of 83. Below, you'll find a lovely tribute to Stein from his colleagues at BAMcinématek, where he programmed the popular "Cinemachat" series for more than a decade. He led a remarkable life and will be missed.

"Elliott Stein was a film critic, historian, programmer, and script writer -- a true cinematic multihyphenate. He wrote for The Village Voice, The New York Times, Rolling Stone, Sight and Sound, Film Comment, the Financial Times, Opera, and many other publications. 

Born December 5, 1928 in Bensonhurst, Elliott saw the original 'King Kong' in first run in 1933 at Radio City Music Hall. He saw the film more than any other in his life, way into the many hundreds of times, and decades later on the eve of the 1976 remake -- to this day referred to as the definitive story on the original film -- he wrote 'My Life with Kong,' an article for Rolling Stone. Falling in love with the movies at a very young age, he ended up at NYU at age 15 in the 1940s where he was one of the first students to study film, before cinema studies was an established course of study. Elliott moved to Paris in 1948 and lived there for more than two decades, an experience that shaped a sensitivity and knowledge of film that was then original for an American writer and critic. 

In his Paris years, Elliott visited the Cinémathèque Française nearly daily (and remarked the only person he saw there every time he went, even if the house was otherwise empty, was Jacques Rivette), and befriended many important intellectual figures of the time; he is mentioned in the memoirs of Edmund White, John Ashbery, Susan Sontag, Ned Rorem, and Richard Olney. He also became a film critic for the Financial Times and an opera critic for Opera (he wrote the libretto for his friend Ned Rorem’s first opera 'A Childhood Miracle'), worked with Kenneth Anger on 'Hollywood Babylon,' managed a literary review, taught English to Yves Montand, and acted in a few films, most notably Edouard Luntz’s 'Les coeurs verts.' Later, Elliott wrote and acted in Antony Balch’s 'Bizarre' and played a character named Ficletoes in Edgardo Cozarinsky’s 'The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,' opposite Zouzou, Marie-France Pisier, Dennis Hopper, Pierre Clémenti, Raoul Ruiz, and others. He also lived in 'Giovanni’s Room' (he was friends with James Baldwin) and his friendship and intellectual rapport with Susan Sontag was a source of her landmark essay 'Notes on Camp.' 

Elliott then worked uncredited as a co-scriptwriter on several films made in France and England, moved to Brazil in the early 70s taking a job as FT’s South American culture reporter, and then went back to his hometown in the mid-70s. And during this time, he revised and edited the American edition of Léon Barsacq’s 'Caligari’s Cabinet and Other Grand Illusions,' the earliest history of art direction in the cinema.  

Since BAMcinématek’s inception in 1999, Elliott programmed, hosted, and presented over 120 'Cinemachats' at which he’d host a post-film talk peppered with his one-of-a-kind erudition. His first-ever chat was for John Brahm’s 'Hangover Square' in December 1999, and his last was just weeks ago on October 8 where he showed André De Toth’s 'Ramrod' with friend and fellow film historian Howard Mandelbaum.

Elliott defined eclectic taste, programming silent classics (Hitchcock’s 'The Lodger'), 30s rough-and-tumble pictures (Lang’s 'Fury'), mid-century art house hits (De Santis’ 'Bitter Rice' and Kalatozov’s 'Letter Never Sent'), recent auterist work (Verhoeven’s 'Starship Troopers' and Cronenberg’s 'Spider'), and everything in between, from 'Mandingo' to 'Monkey Shines.' Elliott also presented 'Gertrud,' Dreyer’s film maudit, which he resolutely championed for its original 1964 release in Paris, penning a seminal review of it in Sight and Sound. He possessed a deep reservoir of knowledge of great, overlooked films -- from Roland West’s 'The Bat Whispers' to Curtis Harrington’s 'The Killing Kind' -- which he brought to BAMcinématek audiences; they were revelations to many, baffling to others. He even made a compelling case for John Boorman’s 'Exorcist II: The Heretic' -- the making of a classic Cinemachat. 

In December, we will screen one of his favorite films, Valerio Zurlini’s 'The Desert of the Tartars.' In 2000 Elliott wrote a beautiful appreciation of the Italian director for the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s retrospective in The Village Voice.

Elliott Stein was a true film lover, a remarkable story teller, a walking encyclopedia, a living Zelig, and one of the warmest and kindest people we’ve ever known. It was an honor to work so closely with him. We will miss him dearly.

Details of a memorial film program to be announced.
The BAMcinématek team"