JOHN DANIEL & COMPANY

Following the Reflections
of a Storyteller—
Essays and Stories by Max Schott

When Max Schott was a boy he dreamed of being a cowboy, of working on ranches, of training cow-horses, and, secretly, of becoming a rodeo star. He did grow up to work on ranches, and eventually turned himself into a good professional horse trainer. He competed in rodeos, too, for some fifteen years, imagining, for most of that time, that rodeo-stardom was just ahead. It wasn’t, and the daydream died hard. With writing it was different. When he began to write—at a time when he was still dreaming of rodeo fame—the attempts to put words on paper were not connected to any clear ambition, or to hopes for the future. He wrote for no apparent reason, or, to put it differently, because it interested him and he enjoyed it.

At thirty, feeling in need of an education, he returned to school as a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. There he took classes from Marvin Mudrick, a prominent literary critic. When Mudrick was asked to start a new college at the University, he founded the College of Creative Studies and a little later asked Max if he’d teach there too.

Keeping Warm—Essays and Stories
is an eclectic collection of Max Schott’s writing, most of it written over the last decade. Some of the essays are about teaching—the people he’s known, the struggles and successes within a University, his pleasures and frustrations. Some of the essays are about the literature he’s taught and the writers he’s studied. Other essays are about life as a cowboy. Still others are short observations that appeared in a weekly column published in The Independent, one of Santa Barbara’s local papers. There are diaries about his father and his father’s death. There is an essay about the myth of an easy life in Santa Barbara. There are a few essays about reading. But all the writing in Keeping Warm is united by Max Schott’s quiet and accurate reflection on human nature, his love of the characters and places he writes about, and a seemingly unending curiosity about where his subject will lead him.

A book of essays can easily be overlooked. It’s true they may not take us to any distant or exotic place, nor will they distract us with tales of romance or mystery. But Keeping Warm is a collection that gives a view into an inner life. We are privileged to follow the thinking and intelligence of someone who is smart and good hearted and whose curiosity about human nature and what we do because of it leads him to quietly remarkable destinations. For this alone it’s worth following Max Schott wherever he takes us.

Max Schott’s stories and essays have been widely published in magazines; his work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, and The Pushcart Prize; and he is the author of three highly acclaimed books, Murphy’s Romance, Up Where I Used to Live, and Ben. He lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Elaine.


Keeping Warm
Essays and Stories

Max Schott
ISBN 1-880284-64-2
240 pages, paperback, $15.00

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