Will She Understand?:

New Stories

Written in New York between 1982 and 1987, the short stories in Will She Understand? bring us up to date with Fielding Dawson’s work since the publication of Krazy Kat & 76 More, Collected Stories 1950-1976 and Virginia Dare, Stories 1976-1981. Reviewing Krazy Kat, the San Francisco Chronicle’s critic compared the work favorably with Hemingway, Cain and Chandler, and suggested that “Dawson makes his foreground study that underbelly of society which the hard-boiled school had described only as backdrop.”

In these thirty-two new stories, Dawson confirms and extends his mastery of a form he helped invent: the projectivist tale, in which a heightened sensitivity of attention registers in hair’s-breadth detail not just physical realities but emotional events occurring in transformational, dreamlike, intuitional dimensions way off the tone-scale of the old, tired English narrative sentence.

Fielding Dawson was a member of the Beat Generation and of the Black Mountain Poets – two movements that continue to reverberate through modern poetry. Like other Beats, Dawson often worked in a stream-of-consciousness style with minimal punctuation, lax grammar, and naturalistic dialogue. In addition, he was an accomplished painter and collagist whose visual work often appeared alongside his writing in literary magazines.

In later age, Dawson added teaching to his repertoire of talents. He taught writing to prisoners at Sing Sing, to at-risk youth at Upward Bound High School in Hartwick, and to Beatnik hopefuls at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder. He continued to write and teach until his death in 2002.