William McPherson (b. 1933) is a Pulitzer Prize–winning literary critic, editor, journalist, and novelist. Born and reared in Michigan, he attended three universities over the course of seven years but left before attaining a degree. After a stint in the Merchant Marine (he is still an able-bodied seaman), he started at The Washington Post as a copyboy in 1958, soon becoming a staff writer and editor. He spent several years as a senior editor at William Morrow & Co. and returned to the Post, first as its daily book editor, then as founding editor of its independent book section, Book World. Later he moved to the newspaper’s editorial page, where he selected the letters to the editor and wrote a weekly op-ed column. After a two-year leave of absence, he left the newspaper in 1987 to write full time. His first novel, Testing the Current, was originally published in 1984. A second, To the Sargasso Sea, published in 1987, took up the story of the first novel some thirty years later. In 1989 he went to Berlin as the Wall was coming down and ended up in Romania in early 1990, shortly after the fall of the Communist regime, intending to stay for three days. Instead, he spent most of the next six years there, writing about post-Communist Romania for The Washington Post, Granta, and The Wilson Quarterly.
A coming-of-age novel set in the American Midwest in the late 1930s. “An extraordinary intelligent, powerful and, I believe, permanent contribution to the literature of family, childhood and memory….There is not one false note, one forced image. It is a novel written with great skill, and with love. It’s what most good first novels aspire to be.”—Russell Banks