The Facts of Life:

Stories, 1940-1949

In these stories and sketches, written when he was undergoing rigorous Reichian psychoanalysis and establishing himself as a young man of letters in Greenwich Village, the mature Goodman begins to emerge here, at last, is the storyteller as critic of society, the first-person essayist as pilgrim of the soul. Plot, character, and setting now become secondary to the narrator’s criticism of American life and insights into personal psychology this is fiction as the record of an inward search toward hard-won self-understanding. In these stories, writes Stoehr, “Goodman found a new way to cope with the old problem of alienation, of the relations of the ego to the soul and to the world: accept the world, in which natural powers and beautiful human virtues do exist (no matter what other intellectuals think); accept the ego as that part of the self which makes daring formulations about the world; accept the soul, from whose depths come song.”

Paul Goodman was born in New York and educated at City College. Rather than taking a job after graduation, he chose to live with his sister and pursue a literary life among Manhattan’s burgeoning bohemian scene. He spent the thirties and forties writing novels and short stories and teaching at a variety of progressive institutions, including Manumit School and Black Mountain College. While his fiction was well-received, Goodman is now best remembered for his works of social criticism, especially the groundbreaking Growing up Absurd, and of anarchist philosophy. He was also a lay therapist and a co-founder of the experimental Gestalt method of psychotherapy. Goodman died in New Hampshire in 1972, leaving behind dozens of works of fiction and nonfiction.

Taylor Stoehr was the literary executor of George Dennison and Paul Goodman and edited many of their volumes, along with writing six of his own books on culture and literary criticism. Stoehr was also a longtime professor at the University of Massachusetts Boston and helped found the Dorchester District Court program for Changing Lives Through Literature.