A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play gathers writings of various styles and genres that reflect the intense possibilities of the creative act, where language and structure rise above the strictly functional. The writers here display a gift for inventiveness that cannot settle for conventional notions of expression; instead they seek to widen our vocabulary for emotional and intellectual expression, providing works built on complication, risk, clarity, and ambition. They create a literature which delights in itself, which finds in the act of creation the joy of imagination in free reign.


Maggie Anderson
Amy Gerstlerv
Kristina McGrath
Patrick Chamoiseau
Michael Graber
Heather McHugh
Billy Collins
Gabriel Gudding
Marjorie Maddox
E. E. Cummings
Sunetra Gupta
Susan Mitchell
Sean Thomas Dougherty
John Hawkes
Rick Moody
John Drexel
Terrance Hayes
Mike Newirth
Barbara Edelman
William Kistler
A.E. Stallings
Lynn Emanuel
Yusef Komunyakaa
Connie Voisine
Alice Fulton
Peter LaSalle
Edmund White
William Gass
Jeffrey McDaniel
Valerie Wohlfeld
Timothy Geiger
Sharon McDermott
Dean Young


A look into one writer's origins and the importance of encountering the right book at the right time.
"Hillbilly noir as literary fiction of the first order." —Kirkus Reviews
"It wouldn’t be surprising if Our Napoleon in Rags winds up attracting a cult following. Gann’s writing is dense and interesting; he seems to be conducting a one-man campaign to stamp out the cliché, that withered figure of speech which is such a mercenary part of the thin landscape of contemporary fiction...."
—Sonya Jones
“Gann has a great story to tell, one that is by turns sensuous, carnal, tender, and often brutal. With its original theme and beautiful, yet effortlessly composed language, Parade makes a striking debut for a novelist of daring creativity and passion.”
—Edmund White
An award-winning anthology of poetry and prose, coedited with Kristin Herbert.

A Fine Excess

Finalist for the 2001 ForeWord Book of the Year Award

"From e.e. cummings to William Gass to Susan Mitchell, this anthology brings together works by assorted authors whose writing truly is at "play"--where the very words on the page seemingly have a life of their own and conjure up dramatic illusions.... Some of the strongest images deal with injustices toward women, whether it be the cheating husband in Sunetra Gupta's 'From Memories of Rain,' the dead sister in Rick Moody's 'The Mansion on the Hill,' the woman writing under the pseudonym of a man in Kristina McGrath's 'From A Scribbler's Life,' or the beaten slave girl in Patrick Chamoiseau's 'The 18 Dream-Words that Atoukal Gave Him.' Throughout, the descriptive language breathes life into words, giving them dimensions all their own. Recommended for all libraries."

Library Journal

"This unusual collection of 36 writings is unlike most anthologies of mixed genres; its common element, claim editors Gann and Herbert--themselves writers--is a sense of 'play,' by which they do not mean 'merely lighthearted, whimsical riffs,' but rather works by 'writers who show creative delight, who explore the possibilities within the compound sentence, within composed phrases.'... There is much here to enjoy."

Publishers Weekly