Tales Tall & Short – Fictional, Factual & In Between by John Matthias


John Matthias has published two books of poetry with Dos Madres, Revolutions: A Collaboration (with Robert Archambeau and Jean Dibble) and Regrounding a Pilgrimage (with commentaries by John Peck). The present book, however, is a selection of Matthias’s prose. He has written a lot of it over the years—stories, plays, memoirs, literary essays, and a novel. Tales Tall and Short is a selection of fiction and memoirs. The fiction is both previously unpublished (the “Tales Tall and Short” section itself) and drawn from his novel, Different Kinds of Music (“Some Things about Timothy Westmont”). The memoirs deal with a wide range of subjects, from the early correspondence of his parents to an apprenticeship in poetry, poetry and insomnia, poetry and murder, and a portrait of one of the great eccentrics whose memory is embraced in the concluding chapter of the book, “Prince Marko.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 372
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: September, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-86-2


About Matthias’s prose, critics and poets have written:

“With the publication of Different Kinds of Music, John Matthias deserves comparison to Margaret Atwood and Sebastian Barry, distinguished poets who made the transition to writing first-rate fiction effortlessly.” —John Hennessy

“Reading episodes in the life of Timothy Westmont is a bit like coming across a box of old photographs-horizons of a life that are clear, present and indelibly real, yet in their very persuasiveness, also like photographs, oddly magical and disquieting.” —Michael Anania

“Matthias’s prose is written in a congenial and civilized manner. He writes for a general audience that reads, and his work, taken together, constitutes a tour de force.” —Guy Davenport

“John Matthias has written important poetry for a long time, but also a good deal of prose. In his stories and memoirs he takes his most characteristic concerns and sets them on a longer journey where lost innocence, wounds buried or carried through a lifetime, and the narrow path of hope through the forest of memory haunt his work.” —Robert Archambeau



When his wife suddenly returned from England, Timothy Westmont was half asleep listening to Schubert’s Quintet, D956, played on an old CD by the Juilliard String Quartet with Bernard Greenhouse as the second cello. In his extreme old age—eighty now, which was not, as his former interns liked to joke, “the new sixty”—Schubert’s quintet had become his favorite music of all, especially the stark and intimate adagio movement that sometimes moved him so deeply that he dared not listen all the way to the end but pushed the remote before it had finished to advance the contraption quickly on to the scherzo. He had listened to the piece hundreds of times, though Schubert himself hadn’t lived to hear it performed even once . . .


JOHN MATTHIAS has published some thirty books of poetry, translation, criticism, and scholarship. For many years he taught at the University of Notre Dame, where he is still Editor at Large of Notre Dame Review. Shearsman Books publishes his three volumes of Collected Poems, as well as the uncollected long poem, Trigons, his most recent volumes of poetry, Complayntes for Doctor Neuro and Acoustic Shadows, two books of memoirs and literary essays, and the novel Different Kinds of Music. Two collaborative books have been published by Dos Madres; Revolutions (with Jean Dibble and Robert Archambeau) and Regrounding a Pilgrimage (with John Peck).

Additional information

Weight 23.5 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × 1 in