Steven G. Kellman at The American Scholar:
The life and work of Stephen Crane derived gravity from brevity. Not one of his novels is much more than a hundred pages long, and they and his short stories strip language to its potent minimum. Crane’s short but prodigious life—he died, of tuberculosis, five months before his 29th birthday—observed the same concision. His hold on the public imagination has also lacked longevity. Crane’s most famous novel, The Red Badge of Courage (1895), is no longer required reading in American schools, and his other greatest hits—Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893), “The Open Boat” (1897), The Monster (1898), “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky” (1898), and “The Blue Hotel” (1898)—have fallen out of the cultural conversation.
Novelist Paul Auster aims his new book about Crane at “those who know little or nothing about him,” which, apart from a small cadre of scholars, is the entire species lector americanus. Describing his subject as a “burning boy of rare preciousness who was blocked from entering the fullness of adulthood,” he invites the reader to share his own intense reactions to Crane’s writing and the twists and turns of the man’s abbreviated career.