[E]ach story is expertly constructed, offering the comforts of a piece of handcrafted furniture....In "Charm," a man who teaches literature at a Catholic school helps a nun with her surprisingly erotic poetry—which has the effect of making him ponder beauty and the encroaching years in an almost spiritual light.... In such stories Mr. Wilson adds a knot to his smooth design that nags at us well after we've closed the book.
--Wall Street Journal


This brilliant fiction should be widely read and relished by all those readers who take it up. The author is to be saluted for this dazzling achievement.
--Sewanee Review

Robley Wilson has written a novel of remarkable beauty with an astonishing lightness of touch, considering the dark human stories he tells and the bleak truth that lies at the book's core.
--The Washington Post

If his new book is representative, Robley Wilson is a seriously neglected figure in American letters. Here is a novel that balances the palette of the Great Plains against the garish colors of the 1980s and comes out with an American farmer that is true to life, made neither absurd nor mythical by the changing landscape.
--The New York Sun

As in his previous novel [Splendid Omens], Wilson gives us plot twists that surprise...But he raises some critical and contentious issues; one is the conflict between a man's right to defend his property and his valuing of human life. Guns play a precipitous part in this novel, as do jails and lawyers: For better or worse, this is the American way.
--The Toronto Globe & Star

If you keep very still, you can hear the rustle of hope within The World Still Melting, Wilson's moving novel (his third) set in drought-stricken rural Iowa. Arlene, an ex-teacher willingly isolated by her marriage to the owner of a struggling family farm...and Nancy, an abused wife whose passion for a younger man tears the community apart, are survivors in a climate where both fear and forgiveness can grow,
--O: The Oprah Magazine

Wilson brings great compassion and biblical overtones to his story of small farmers under siege. He painstakingly details the rural mind-set, the obsession with land and property rights, and the often-harsh landscape. Like Jane Smiley's Shakespearean farm drama A Thousand Acres (1991) and Kent Meyers' insightful short-story collection Light in the Crossing (1999), Wilson's novel captures how the privations of farm life can foster extreme emotions and situations.

This novel flows like a woman's mind--thinking, talking, considering options, remembering details and wondering about the future.
--Florida Today

This poignant, beautifully written story focuses on five people who live on neighboring farms in Iowa. Paul and Arlene Tobler, who sacrificed their professional aspirations when they inherited the farm from Paul's family, work hard and frequently interact with the unhappily married Harvey and Nancy Riker. Wilson portrays farming as a tough way to eke out a living, shadowed by economic uncertainty, drought, and harsh Midwestern weather.
--Library Journal


Wilson's tale chills, challenges and ultimately demands that a reader reflect. He indicates that introspection, no matter how painful, is essential to survival, and he points out how untended wounds serve as their host's sad legacy. The grace with which Wilson delivers his message makes SPLENDID OMENS more than merely a good book. With its seductive syntax and bizarrely original yet plausible plot, the novel opts to be great. --Orlando Sentinel

A tangled skein of friendship and love unravels in Robley Wilson's SPLENDID OMENS. In a wily last request, Alec's best friend (aptly named Webb) sends Alec to break the news of Webb's death to his ex-wife--who is also Alec's long-ago lover. A satisfyingly intricate fiction. --O:The Oprah Magazine

A "must-read" --More magazine

[His] gift is to let the story...unravel so gracefully that the unlikeliness of the first few pages soon dissipates. What remains is a clutch of well-drawn but rather ordinary characters whose unspectacular lives are punctuated with the flaws and foibles and freakishness that damn us all. --Orlando Weekly

The author writes with such lyrical ease that even when Alec's world is rocked by his friend's actions, the story unfolds every bit as gracefully as the day of the would-be wedding: "a knockout day to declare love unto death, a day of splendid omens."--Atlanta Journal-Constitution

...a sleek romantic melodrama. --Boston Globe


In a time when fiction is increasingly dominated by the fantastic, a solid inquiry into the lives of ordinary folks is gratifying....The gifts of these stories are in the beautiful phrases of Wilson's prose and also in the populated and furnished scenes....Wilson's characters always walk that precipice of factuality, where even small deaths bring about new consciousness. --Antioch Review


[Wilson's] motive for writing so strongly and imaginatively now can only be his love for the short story form itself. This book is an admirable demonstration of the continuing vitality of that form, and handsome proof that we are not mistaken when we continue, with Mr. Wilson, to love it so.
--Kurt Vonnegut

Wilson is at his very best in open forms which call upon the reader to bring about some kind of resolution.... These fictions can and must be read again and again, and with each reading the fields shift and the perspectives alter.... What is important is that Wilson's best pieces make the collaboration bewteen author and reader a real possibility.
--The American Book Review

We are etherized when reading Wilson's fiction. Like John Hawkes, he is a writer of dreams. He uses dreams as metaphors, dreams as imagery, and dreams as controlling forces in people's lives.
--New Boston Review

I hope I've suggested how ambitious and richly varied Robley Wilson's stories are. They're easily the pick of this year's [Illinois] series, and, by themselves, are reason enough for looking into the Illinois offerings.
--Chicago Tribune


These are fine stories, sensitive and deft; from them, we may learn, among other things, that the current obsession with the nuances of interaction between the sexes is not limited to women. --Margaret Atwood

Writers who love and create short stories in America today are our purest literary artists, and Robley Wilson is a prince among them. --Vance Bourjaily

A splendid book, a rare blend of candor and mystery kindled to express the tragedy of the human pair....It is one of those books one treasures as a genuine service to the heart's blind grope for understanding. --R.V.Cassill

Within his stories, connected incidents seem at first not to relate. But as we read on, we realize that while they may perplex our intelligence, they make a kind of irrefutable subconscious sense....There is no doubt that Wilson is a superb writer. At times, his syntactical adjustments make for lovely, poetic sentences, his images are keen, and he is often possessed of a great psychological acuity. Wilson's sheer technical brilliance is all the more reason to beware of him. --The Village Voice

[Wilson] is known only to initiates of contemporary writing. Now that he has won the reasonably well-regarded Drue Heinz Literature Prize, he may climb out into the world of recognized authors, those whose names are mentioned in lists and are used as illustrations.... [In these stories] his characters break out of their habits, their adjustments, their preconceptions, for a while and then get back in as if they had never been there before.--The New York Times


These are stories of loss and sorrow, beautifully told. The effect on the reader is to put the book down, kiss the nearest person, run through the streets, breathe, kive, before it's too late. --The Los Angeles Times

Like a socially-conscious television series, [Wilson] addresses, by turns, conflicts of gender and race, the stricken farm belt, drunk driving, lesbianism, the handicapped, battered women, Vietnam vets, cancer and nuclear arms. In so doing he reflects the preocupations of contemporary American society, and he displays an admirable versatility.
--The Times Literary Supplement

[Wilson] isn't a writer who ties things up in neat packages. The characters who populate his finely tuned short stories have all the rough edges of life, and the emotions that spill out onto the pages--rage, guilt, desire, regret--are not easily contained. For all their unsettling, even disturbing, aspects, however, his stories are nonetheless compelling.... "Terrible Kisses" is a pleasure to read, if for nothing else but the sheer enjoyment of watching a master of the genre at work.
--The New York Times

Wilson is a superior craftsman who uses humor and precise observation to create a stoic but compassionate tone of voice distinctly his own. The only writer he is even reminiscent of is the late Raymond Carver, to whom he dedicates this book. Both are ironists with a strong sense of tragedy and absurdity, and both have an impressive capacity for tenderness as well. Carver's voice is more idiosyncratic, but Wilson's is more versatile....
--Philadelphia Inquirer

Again, [Wilson] goes modestly about his business, but with a steady assurance that often resonates....These stories work quietly to achieve their effects, but the mark some of them leave behind is indelible.
--Kirkus Reviews

And don't overlook...


Edited by Susan Hubbard & Robley Wilson

Twenty-one stories, all written since 1985 and all set in the state of Florida. The authors: Frederick Barthelme, Tom Chiarella, Philip Cioffari, Steve Cushman, John Henry Fleming, Aracelis Gonzalez-Asendorf, Jeffrey Greene, William R. Kanouse, Karen Loeb, Alison Lurie, Wendell Mayo, Jill McCorkle, Peter Meinke, Patrick J. Murphy, Louis Phillips, Elisavietta Ritchie, Enid Shomer, William Snyder, Jr., Abraham Verghese, Steve Watkins, and Joy Williams.

This is the cover of the British paperback edition.

The British hardback cover.

Out of print

Out of print