“I am the man who surrendered with one boot gone on St. Valentine’s Day, the year of our lord nineteen hundred and thirteen, with the smell of salt and woodsmoke and gunpowder in the air.”
I first read The Wars of Heaven when it came out in 1991. That hardback sits on my shelf right now, and it’s one of the many books which helped create Andrew Gifford the publisher/book lover that has since gone out of print. Richard Currey’s books, overall, have suffered this fate, despite being critically acclaimed and highly successful titles in their day. The Wars of Heaven features O. Henry and Pushcart-winning stories, and has been hailed as a “beautiful book” (Seattle Times), “exquisite” (Publisher’s Weekly), and “a seamless delight” (The New York Times).
Winston Groom wrote a remarkable review in the LA Times that’s still available to the public, and well worth reading.
When I reprinted Currey’s Fatal Light in 2009 — hailed by Tim O’Brien as “the best work of fiction to come out of the Vietnam era” — I set myself on a course devoted to increasing awareness of Currey’s work. He has written only four titles — Crossing Over, which has been in print since 1979, Fatal Light and The Wars of Heaven, both now SFWP titles, and Lost Highway, currently in the hands of the University of West Virginia press.
Of course my master-plan is to slowly acquire the entire Currey collection. Keeping his work alive and in print is a vital part of SFWP’s mission to preserve our literary landscape.