Nebraska Center for Writers

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About James Magorian


America First
Copyright © 1981
by James Magorian
Black Oak Press
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In Nebraska writer James Magorian's comic novel America First the reformers are in power. Congress has been abolished, the members jailed for corruption. Laws are madeby people voting in national referendums on the administration's whimsically extreme decrees, President Luther Hodge assebles a fanatical cabinet made up mostly of women, blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities, including an Arab Secretary of Transportation named Ali Baba Hasan. These cabinet officers and the female Vice-President work to transform the country into a liberal paradise. The Surgeon General sends the 82nd Airborne into American cities to enforce the national nonsmoking ban and lower-cholesterol regulations, Secretary of Interior, Chief Herniated Bear, turns whole states into Indian reservations and wildlife refuges. Secretary of Commerce Shirley Mandelbaum solves Japanese trade problems with one memo. And there are a half dozen new cabinet posts like the Secretary of Used Cars, the Secretary of Silence, and the Secretary of Population, Emick Millstone, whose zero population growth policies are often in conflict with programs of the Department of Carnal Activity, headed by the voluptuous Misty Ultimate. America First is a funny romp through the corridors of power, zany bureaucrats correcting all America's problems. — Tom Jennings

Long overdue. I'm buying copies for my friends. — Franklin Delano Roosevelt

A funny and formidable treatise. — John Stuart Mill

I tumble to the floor in mirth. — David Hume

Verily, it doth make all my work for naught. — Thomas Aquinas

Copyright © 2006
by James Magorian
Black Oak Press
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In his poem Aviatrix James Magorian explores American culture in the formative years of the 20th century. His speaker is both receiver and creator of the shaping forces, a voice reckoning technology and transgressed nature, the arts and mass media. Historical events are revived with rich, inventive language, a skillful mix of ideas and images, providing a wondrous parable of our communal ties, demonic tendencies, the blunt routines, mystical flashes and transcendences of the ordinary day. — from the publisher

Haymarket Square
Copyright © 1998
by James Magorian

In his narrative poem Haymarket Square James Magorian explores the roots of modern America: the shift from rural to urban life, ethnic conflict, environmental degradation, class struggle, varieties of religious experience, eruptions of violence. In the tradition of Stephen Vincent Benét's John Brown's Body and Robert Penn Warren's Audubon, A Vision, he hangs literary flesh on historical event with rich, inventive language, a skillful mix of ideas and images that illuminates the lives of those caught in the accelerating pace, complexity, and social Darwinism of the late nineteenth century. At the height of a long and distinguished career, James Magorian provides a wondrous account of our communal ties, demonic tendencies, the blunt routines, the mystical flashes and transcendences of the ordinary day. — from the jacket

Catalpa Blossoms
Copyright © 1994
by James Magorian
James Magorian ... for more than twenty years has quietly constructed an immense, impressive, and distinctive body of work best described as "Americana." Along the way Magorian has experimented with voices, becoming misleadingly known to some extent as an exuberant comic; but his best work is biographical, based like Catalpa Blossoms, on the lives of pioneers. — Small Press Review

Hearts of Gold
Copyright © 1996
by James Magorian
Acme Press
Hearts of Gold is a fast-paced, slapstick comedy in which a motley group of fortune hunters — a gambler, a college instructor Professor Stennerflit and his daughter Amelia, an art gallery guard named Zolly, the old iddy Poet Laureate of Omaha Agnes Tate Brine, the president of a flying saucer spotters club Edelson Ponk, and an amnesiac given the name Jeeves and assigned the flunky tasks of the expedition — go in search of the Lost Dutchman gold mine, following a map that places the mine not in the mountains of Arizona but in western Nebraska. The prospectors, traveling not by burro but luxurious Toyota Land Cruiser, are pursued by two dim-witted thugs employed by Bruno "the Hammer" Sorklemyer, an Omaha loan shark who is owed money by the gambler. Also in the caper is a bumbling rogue FBI agent, Wade Mindock, out for himself and the skeptical local sheriff, Camber Luggins, who gets involved because it's an opportunity to miss his grandson's birthday party. A romance between the gambler and Amelia Stennerflit humorously complicates the prospecting, as does the fact that the old mine is located on land claimed by a hillbilly couple Milbert and Levada Roatcap, whose three PBS-watching sons are Ivy League-bound as soon as the hog slaughtering season is over, and claimed by the nearby Gnostic monastery of Mount Ponderosa, headed by Bishop Anastasias and manned by monks like Brother Flapjack, Brother One-Eyed Charley, and Brother Wild Ed, whose divine calling includes cattle rustling. After many slapstick episodes, all these characters are brought together in a madcap finale. — from the jacket

Hearts of Gold is reminiscent of the great comic embroideries of Thorne Smith, Max Shulman, and SJ Perelman, with touches of the plotting of Donald E Westlake and he ribaldry of Tom Robbins. It's the funnniest book I've read in years. — Jack Olsen

I found Hearts of Gold hilarious! "Easy Street" McShane is going to go down in that delightful history book of warm-hearted scoundrels who make us laugh out loud. Hearts of Gold is a primer for would-be con-men, and a feast for those weary of depression and disaster. I loved this book! — Ann Rule

Take a lost gold mine, salt it with a plot that's a riot from beginning to end, add a posse of gun-toting monks and a turkey with a bent for destruction, and the result is an unputdownable treat of a book. James Magorian is a writer with a wicked sense of humour that I predict we'll see a lot more of. — Kay Mitchell

Magorian, an author of children's books and poetry, is a breezy storyteller with a knack for quirky dialogue. — Publishers Weekly

Hearts of Gold is an action-adventure/quest-venture parody, a rural, small-town, back-roads caricature — a cartoon in the best sense meant for Saturday morning entertainment back when Saturday morning cartoons were truly entertaining. — Gretchen Ronnow, Nebraska Territory

The Hideout of the Sigmund Freud Gang
Copyright © 1987
by James Magorian
Black Oak Press

For fifteen years the slapstick-surrealistic poems of James Magorian have appeared in literary magazines and been published in collections by small presses. One of the foremost chroniclers of the loopy American angst, James Magorian concocts a satire that is both whimsical and accusatory. Like Kurt Vonnegut and the late Richard Brautigan, he sculpts from the monumental insignificances of everyday life. The Hideout of the Sigmund Freud Gang brings together the satirical poems and visuals from earlier books and includes such "revisions" of American history as The Eily Dickinson Jogging Book, The Red, White, and Blue Bus, and The Great Injun Carnival, which purports to be the secret diary of General Custer. — Tom Jennings

Kaaterskill Clove
Copyright © 2000, 2009
by James Magorian
Black Oak Press
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A long poem about landscape painting, parts of which were first published in The Antioch Review, The Ohio Poetry Review, Parnassus Literary Journal, and elsewhere.

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