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The Books


Steven Harvey has published three collections of personal essays as well as a memoir and a book-length essay. He also edited an anthology of essays called In a Dark Wood: Personal Essays by Men on Middle Age.  For him, personal prose is a vivid way to explore the meaning of ordinary experience. 

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A Geometry of Lilies

University of South Carolina Press (ISBN 0-87249-895-6)


What does it mean to live in a typical American family cut adrift from history and tradition and transplanted far from relatives or roots. Harvey writes about how the American family learns to 'make do', fashioning its own rituals and myths to celebrate life's joys and register its losses.


"These ten refined, luminous pieces are in the tradition of the familiar essay, informal and urbane, with an engaging narrator who speaks, as Montaigne did, out of everyday experiences. They are familiar in a deeper sense as well, for they dwell on life within a family." --Scott Russell Sanders

Lost in Translation

University of Georgia Press (ISBN 0-8203-1890-6)


How do we handle life's inevitable losses? Children leave home, work evolves, we age. Such losses, these essays say, are the price we pay for becoming. Some part of our true self finds voice only in such changes.


"Harvey breathes lyricism and beauty into ordinary hours. He rumages time and place and arranges knick-knacks so that the pages exhilarate." --Sam Pickering

Bound for Shady Grove

University of Georgia Press (ISBN 0-8203-2197-4)


Bound for Shady Grove, the newest collection of personal essays, describes Harvey's attempt to understand the traditional music of his adopted home in the Appalachian mountains. His primary research tool was the mountain banjo.


"This wonderful volume is a first, a sensitively written personal reflection on the poetics and passions of mountain music. " --Art Rosenbaum

The Book of Knowledge and Wonder

Ovenbird Books ISBN-13: 9781940906089

Despite the tragic subject of suicide, The Book of Knowledge and Wonder is a long overdue conversation between the book's author and his mother, a literary collaboration in which knowledge and wonder meet.

"The Book of Knowledge and Wonder by Steven Harvey -- tenderness, yearning, intelligence, beauty." --Ana Maria Spagna

Folly Beach: An Essay on Family, Fear, Physics, Philosophy& Fun


In a world of losses, creativity is the best revenge.

A book-length retirement essay that celebrates creativity as a hedge against the losses that inevitably come our way. It is the thought of architectural follies inspired by the name of the beach that keeps the feelings of loss at bay. Harvey finds himself looking up those useless and at times poignant buildings that do little more than celebrate their own creation and devises ways for the family to build their own. An elaborate fort made of sand, flattened and swept away by the tides, is a kind of doomed folly on a small scale, but in the making of it Harvey and his family become part of a boundlessly creative universe, and the realization of that simple truth serves as a balm.

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