Wakefield, Dan 1932-
WAKEFIELD, Dan 1932-
PERSONAL: Born May 21, 1932, in Indianapolis, IN; son of Ben H. (a pharmacist) and Brucie (Ridge) Wakefield. Education: Attended Indiana University, 1950-51; Columbia University, B.A., 1955.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Elaine Markson, 44 Greenwich Ave., New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: Princeton Packet, Princeton, NJ, news editor, 1955; Columbia University, New York, NY, research assistant to Professor C. Wright Mills, 1955; Nation, New York, NY, staff writer, 1956-59; freelance
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writer, beginning 1959; Atlantic Monthly, contributing editor, 1968-80; National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), story consultant for TV series James at 15, 1977. Staff member, Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, 1964 and 1966; visiting lecturer at University of Massachusetts at Boston, 1965-67, University of Illinois, 1968, University of Iowa, 1972, Boston University, 1974, University of Massachusetts at Boston, 1981-82; writer-in-residence, Florida International University, 1994—.
MEMBER: Authors Guild of America, PEN, Beacon Hill Civic Association, Writers Guild of America East, National Writers Union
AWARDS, HONORS: DeVoto fellowship to Bread Loaf Writers Conference, 1958; Neiman fellowship, Harvard University, 1963-64; Short story prize, National Council of Arts, 1968; Rockefeller Foundation grant in imaginative writing, 1969; National Book Award nomination, 1970, for Going All the Way; film version of Going All the Way was selected by Sundance Film Festival in 1997.
Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem (nonfiction), Houghton (Boston, MA), 1959.
Revolt in the South (nonfiction), Grove (New York, NY), 1961.
(Editor) The Addict: An Anthology, Fawcett (Greenwich, CT), 1963.
Between the Lines (nonfiction), New American Library (New York, NY), 1967.
Supernation at Peace and War (nonfiction), Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 1968. (Contributor) Robert Manning and Michael Janeway, editors, Who We Are: An Atlantic Chronicle of the United States and Vietnam, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 1969.
Going All the Way (novel; also see below), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1970, reprinted, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1997.
Starting Over (novel), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1973.
All Her Children, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1976. Home Free (novel), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1977. (And coproducer) The Seduction of Miss Leona (movie for television), CBS, 1980.
Under the Apple Tree (novel), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1982.
(Adapter) Mark Twain The Innocents Abroad (movie for television), PBS, 1982.
Selling Out (novel), Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1985.
Returning: A Spiritual Journey, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.
The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1990.
New York in the Fifties (also see below), Houghton (Boston, MA), 1992.
Expect a Miracle, HarperSanFrancisco (San Francisco, CA), 1995.
Creating from the Spirit, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1996.
Going all the Way (screenplay), Gramercy Pictures, 1997.
How Do We Know When It's God? Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1999.
Releasing the Creative Spirit, SkyLight Paths (Woodstock, VT), 2001.
New York in the Fifties (documentary), Sundance Channel, 2001.
Also writer of an episode of Heartbeat, ABC, 1984. Short stories included in Best American Stories of 1966, and American Literary Anthology 2; contributor of numerous articles, essays, reviews, and short stories to Atlantic, Esquire, Commentary, Playboy, New York Times Magazine, New York Times Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, GQ, Poets and Writers, Theology Today, Modern Maturity, Spirituality and Health, and other periodicals. Ploughshares, guest editor, 1982; Beliefnet.com, writer of column "Spiritually Incorrect," 2001-03.
Author's works have ben translated into Italian, Norwegian, and Japanese.
SIDELIGHTS: An Atlantic editor once called Dan Wakefield "one of the best of a rare and vanishing breed . . . [and] an independent writer-reporter who finds the delicate balance between head and heart." In his books and numerous published articles, Wakefield has scrutinized his environment in order to "tell it like it is" in what a Time reporter called "less an eyewitness report than a very private vision."
Wakefield's first book, Island in the City, is the story of the world of Spanish Harlem ("one of the world's worst slums") where he lived for six months in "personal immersion in the major experiences of his subjects," according to A. D. Vidich. In his book, said Elihu Katz, "Wakefield . . . tries (and sometimes too hard) to be poetic and to communicate insight into how it feels to be on the night coach from Puerto Rico, at a spiritualist seance, on a drug cure, in a sweatshop . . . He tries to communicate his sadness over all those who do not understand." According to Harrison Salisbury, "some of the social workers who devote themselves to the Puerto Ricans and some of the sociologists who have made long and elaborate studies . . . may know Spanish Harlem more comprehensively than Mr. Wakefield. But no one—with the possible exception of Christopher Rand—. . . has captured the spirit of the Puerto Rican in New York so warmly and so sensitively."
In his journalistic books, and particularly in Supernation at Peace and War, Wakefield continues to be "an entertaining, often rueful, and revealing guide," according to R. R. Lingeman, as "he conducts us through his journalistic quest." Originally an assignment from the Atlantic, Wakefield traveled throughout the United States for four months and his article was published in the March, 1968, issue, with the subtitle, "being certain observations, depositions, testimonies and graffiti gathered on a one-man fact-and-fantasy-finding tour of the most powerful nation in the world." Wakefield adopts what David Cort considered "a classical satirical tone: . . . an innocent credulous voice producing effects of deadpan irony." He is concerned with the U.S.A. in 1968, "at war with itself and with enemies half way round the world." Concerning these "two wars," Wakefield divides U.S. society into three major attitudinal blocks: "Protest, Patriotism, and Pacification." Florence Casey defined these groups as "divided quite naturally [among] the several hundred people interviewed: 1. Those who are 'against' (the war, suburban life, black poverty, Mother, and The Way Things Are); 2. Those who were 'for' (the war, suburbia, black impoverishment, Mother, and The Way Things Are); and 3. Those who were uncertain (about some, or all, of the same items)." A Time reviewer commented: "The well-fed, worried face of supernation deserves a better effort." Thomas Laske, however, wrote: "The scenes in this book may not always be familiar, but the arguments will be. They are part of a continuing dialogue going on all over the country. His book is a handy and inviting way of becoming part of it."
Commenting on Wakefield's journalistic style, Robert Phelps wrote: "As one of our very best journalists in the past decade, Dan Wakefield has been conspicuous for two virtues: a novelist's instinct for the right detail . . . and then something even rarer, an intimate, yet never merely egocentric, scale of observation." In a review of Wakefield's first novel, Going All the Way, Robert Kirsch noted that the book is "filled with a kind of wry humor and irony which comes not so much from exaggeration as from keen observation of life . . . . But beneath the humor is the sharp sadness of life that is no life at all, bound by bias, crippled by reaction, and which could only bring the desire for flight and escape, for new beginnings." Edgar Z. Friedenberg believed that "although it is not a very good novel, . . . it is nevertheless a very good book. . . . His touch throughout the book is deft and sure, and there is none of the awkwardness of a writer who sets out to do something and fails."
In 1988, Wakefield produced a book that surprised colleagues and readers: Returning: A Spiritual Journey. Leonard Kriegel of Nation commented in his review, "Having read almost everything [Wakefield] had written, I was surprised when a mutual friend told me that Wakefield had 'returned,'—the word was his—to the Christian faith." Wakefield tells of his journey back to Christianity in Returning, and continues on writing about his spiritual development in such books as Expect a Miracle, Creating from the Spirit, and How Do We Know When It's God? Along with writing spiritual memoirs, Wakefield has also lead workshops for writers to develop their own spiritual autobiographies. Despite this seeming change in his focus, the books have been well received. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called Creating from the Spirit a "potentially life-changing work," and another reviewer for the same magazine considered Expect a Miracle "a lively collection filled with honest revelations and searching questions."
Wakefield told Connie Lauerman of Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service that How Do We Know When It's God? is "the most revealing thing I've ever done." A writer for People Weekly explained that in this spiritual autobiography, Wakefield "continues his deeply personal account of spiritual rebirth and growth in a roller-coaster career that plummeted from literary heights to alcoholic depths, only to rise again." Lawrence S. Cunningham of Commonweal praised Wakefield's "honesty, earnestness, and ability to write sinewy, nonsentimental prose" while John Moryl of Library Journal commented, "His life story reads like a novel." Even Kriegel, whose first reaction to was Returning was to write an essay defending agnostocism (which Wakefield attacks in his book), acknowledged, "for all my reservations, I find myself looking both with approval and a touch of envy on the journey Wakefield has undertaken. I don't know whether such a journey would work for me or for other writers I know. . . . But it has worked for him."
Dan Wakefield contributed the following autobiographical essay to CA:
a writing life growing up with stories
"Bowser Brent" was the name of the boy hero in the first book I remember reading, The Bears of Blue River. It was about pioneers in Indiana, the very place I was born (Indianapolis, 1932) and lived myself, and that made it all the more thrilling. Along with my neighborhood friends and sometimes by myself I searched for arrowheads in the backyard, imagining almost any small, flat rock might have served that purpose. I loved to read about pioneers—my own intrepid ancestors in buckskin, clearing the land now civilized into streets with small frame houses—and the Indians who dwelt in the forests before them, possessors of secrets of the wind and stars, the earliest language of life.
My first-grade teacher, Mrs. Roxie Lingle Day, wanted to know if I'd learned to read at home since I took to it so quickly and naturally. I was the first in my class at School 80 to read all the preprimers in the Broad Ripple Branch Public Library around the corner, and get to go on to the primers, but I had no instruction in reading. It came naturally, as if I had known all along and simply had to be told when to begin. I'm sure it came partly out of my love of stories, for I grew up listening to them.
My mother told me stories she made up when I was a child—the one I liked best was about the animals' picnic, which they went to by train, thus combining some of my favorite elements (bears, devilled eggs, and locomotives). My Sunday-school teacher at the First Presbyterian Church, Amy Frantz, told me stories of Jesus healing the sick and feeding the multitudes—I saw him on the dusty roads, in that land of white stone houses, among the beggars and kings, donkeys and children, in the colored pictures in our family Bible.
My uncle Jim from Louisville talked the way the Bible sounded, in long sentences that moved with the cadence of poetry, the rhythm of deep-down truth that came from the very elements of life, like wind and rain. His brother was the Baptist minister I was named after, William Daniel Wakefield—my grandfather who died in his thirties when my own father was only twelve years old. Will was the minister who saved people's souls at revival meetings in Columbia, South Carolina, and Shelbyville, Kentucky, and Jim seemed to be the black-sheep brother who I heard whispered was a bookie in Louisville, a gambling man who sometimes came up north to small towns in Indiana to bet on cockfights and dropped in to see us. He had been a revenue agent going after bootleggers and moonshiners during Prohibition, a man who carried a gun and knew how to use it, a man of adventures and stories to tell as tall as they were true.
I loved to listen to him speak, for even when he told only tales of ordinary people, his and my own kin, he made them sound like legend. He might have been speaking of Delilah or Scheherazade when he said of his own daughter, my colorful cousin Katherine ("I'm your kissin' cousin, darlin', now don't be shy!" she told me as I shivered in fascinated fright), with a mixture of admiration and mock despair: "That woman would rather climb to the top of a greased pole and tell a lie than stand at the bottom and tell the truth."
Uncle Jim really got going and sounded like a preacher when he spoke of his love of the South, mocking my father for being a turncoat, a lost soul who lived above the Mason-Dixon line. He would get his best cadences moving and throw back his head, speaking like the author of Ecclesiastes when he told of the man from Kentucky who came up north to Indiana and tried to become a city slicker but got so homesick he had to go back and so put an ad in the paper that began, "Wanted to trade—spats for a bullet mold. Lord, I'm comin' home." My father's face would light with joy and I could feel the goose bumps rise along my arms as Uncle Jim began to intone that particular incantation of his homeland: "I can hear the whippoorwills calling and taste the black-eyed peas. . . ." After recounting the joys that awaited the prodigal, perhaps he would throw in a passage of exile from the Psalms, telling how we sat down and wept by the rivers of Babylon, and hung up our harps; and it all seemed of a piece, a story whose narrative stretched from Moses to my father, from Bathsheba to Cousin Katherine, woven with the King James cadence, the rhyme that connected all stories into one continuing, everlasting, ever-changing (and yet the same) story. And nothing in the world was more essential, more deeply stirring. The story not only told what we had done, but who we were.
When my mother's grandmother, my great-grandma Stephens, came up to my grandma Irenee's house to die (to live out the last months she knew she had left with family) she told us stories. I was seven or eight years old and I sat at her feet by the rocking chair while she told me of being a little girl, even a year or so younger than I was then—maybe she was six years old—and she saw the flames in the night sky of the burning farms and houses in the Georgia countryside when Sherman marched to the sea. I can hear the cracking of her voice and the creak of the rocking chair that gave the rhythm to the story—a story I would encounter a few years later in history books about the Civil War. But Grandma Stephens' story was better than the history books, because she was there, she saw the flames, and she made me see them too, in my mind's eye. It was magic, this storytelling, whether you made it up or whether you had actually been there—I had pictured the animals at my mother's imaginary picnic just as clearly as the Union soldiers marching down the night roads of Georgia.
The first stories I knew were the ones I heard, was told, and then I learned to read and write and immediately became entranced with that way of telling stories as well. When people ask me when I first knew I wanted to be a writer I explain that it was really back in the first grade, when words and sentences and stories and books seemed to be my natural element, while numbers looked to me like the distorted, mysterious marks of some code I could never crack—nor had I any desire to decipher its mysteries. I liked pictures, but when it came to using my long twenty-five-crayon box of Crayolas I felt awkward and frustrated (I loved "magenta" but more for the sound of the word than the color). I could not transfer from my brain to the paper via the crayons the pictures that flickered in my mind (they came out sticklike, blocky, and crudely uneven), while with words I could convey the stories that ran through my head in adventurous scenarios of cowboys and covered wagons, football players and airplane flights.
I wrote articles, stories, and poems (doggerel verse whose rhyming sounds delighted me) for my grade-school newspaper, the Rippler, and went on to the Shortridge Daily Echo in high school—the first high-school daily in America, and surely the world. When I said I wanted to grow up and be a writer most people patted me on the head with condescending tolerance ("You'll mature and realize that's unrealistic, young fellow"), but a few nodded seriously and said, "There was this one fella, name of Vonnegut. Sometimes he has stories in the Saturday Evening Post." Kurt Vonnegut had been a Shortridge graduate a decade before me, and I faithfully searched old copies of the Post in the barbershop and read them admiringly while I waited for haircuts.
The fact that a guy who went to my own high school had become a "real writer" with stories in one of the great American magazines made the possibility of such a fabulous career seem more possible. (Later I corresponded with Vonnegut, finally met him in Cambridge in 1963 when he was living on Cape Cod and I was a Nieman fellow at Harvard, and he became a friend and supporter whose enthusiastic backing was crucial to the publication and success of my first novel.)
There was another legendary Shortridge grad who had made good as writer in the great world, a woman named Madeline Pugh Davis. She had been a member of the school literary club around the time of Vonnegut, and in the 1940s, after her graduation from college, she set out with another woman friend on a venture that was surely unheard of for females of that era—they got a car and drove to Los Angeles to seek their fortunes. Madeline became a writer of the I Love Lucy show, and I met her in Hollywood in 1978 when I was out there working on a TV series I created called James at 15. She and a partner had been called in to rescue an ailing sitcom called Alice and they raised it to the top of the ratings. I carry in my mind the picture of her as a young woman with her friend, getting into this old Model T Ford (all this was how I elaborated the story in my head) and tossing their suitcases in the rumble seat, chugging courageously out of Indianapolis, and heading west.
The lives of writers seemed wonderfully adventurous to me, for whether they were sitting at home or going out in search of some story they seemed to be always engaged in a kind of quest. I first got hooked on novels because of the thrill I felt on reading the dedication Sinclair Lewis wrote to Paul de Kruif in Arrowsmith for helping him do the research that formed the scientific and medical background of the story. I still remember the line that sent the chill of excitement through me, a reminiscence of Lewis's travels with the scientist: "The deck at dawn as we steamed into tropic ports." Oh God. What could be higher or finer, more thrilling, than to be a writer in search of a story, standing on the deck at dawn, steaming into some tropic port? It later made me think of Somerset Maugham, another great travelling storyteller, going to the ends of the earth to find in the jungles and remote reaches of empire the most exciting, revealing tales imaginable, in the seemingly humdrum lives of humble natives and bored bureaucrats at the very edges of civilization.
I wanted to move out myself, see the world, leave home and Indiana behind, and go on the great quest, the search for the meaning, the grail, the story. Back in high school I already saw ahead as I lay in my room reading Carl Sandburg, loving my family and friends yet knowing I needed to leave them, like "The Red Son" of the poem who said in language that spoke to my own teenage longing:
I love your faces I saw the many years
I drank your milk and filled my mouth
With your home talk, slept in your house
And was one of you.
But a fire burns in my heart. . . .
The last line of the poem kept going around in my head as I thought of the people of my home whom I loved and at the same time wanted to leave: "You for the little hills and I go away."
The Journalistic Eye
When I went off to college at Columbia in New York City I soon reported for duty at the Daily Spectator, the school newspaper. It was what I did. I'd been writing for the school paper since good old School 80, where I got some of my doggerel verse into the Rippler, and continued through the glorious years of high school, where I not only had my own sports column but served as editor of the Thursday edition of the Shortridge Daily Echo. Being on the school paper was like being in school, and it was a way of connecting with Columbia, of making myself at home in the initially unfamiliar and overwhelming environment of New York City. A good way of learning about where I'd come was to write about it, which was also (though I didn't think of it that way at the time) a good way of dealing with the culture shock of moving from the Midwest to Manhattan as a college student.
Writing for the paper was a kind of socialization process, for I met new friends through the Spectator like Jerry Landauer, the chain-smoking investigative reporter who went on to a fine career as Washington correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. It was also serious professional training. I wanted to write, and the school paper was an outlet for getting my work in print, and training me to become adept at doing that and responsible for meeting deadlines.
At Columbia, my newspaper writing took on another professional dimension as well. I longed to tell stories in the form of fiction, and as I delved into contemporary literature I saw in Ernest Hemingway an idol and role model as well as a writer of lucid prose whose precision and spareness thrilled and inspired me. I learned that Hemingway had worked for the Kansas City Star and used his early reporting assignments as training for his fiction writing, a way not only of honing skills but also of looking hard and close at human experience and learning to examine and know what he really felt instead of what he was supposed to feel. I wanted to do the same, and that purpose gave my newspaper work more meaning. I was not getting "just the facts, ma'am," à la Jack Webb in Dragnet, I was training myself to be a fiction writer by being a factual reporter.
After my sophomore year in college I landed a summer replacement job in the sports department of the Indianapolis Star, and not only was able to secretly (it wasn't something you went around blabbing about) train myself for fiction writing, but as an extra bonus also got to talk about novels and read new ones suggested by my boss, a witty and well-read young mentor named Bob Collins. Sitting around the sports department talking about books I'd just read by Budd Schulberg and Kenneth Roberts was a special thrill, a kind of initiation into the world of adulthood as well as books.
The stutter of the wire-service teletype machines at the Star was a thrilling sound, and the whole newspaper ambience was exciting and rewarding in itself, not just as a private training ground for fiction. I felt a kinship with newspaper people, and working around them was like belonging to some special kind of lodge, one whose members were a little more learned, worldly-wise, and understandingly humane. They had seen it all in the course of their work—death, disaster, corruption, victory—and described what they heard and saw in terse, no-nonsense prose, telling it like it was. I respected and admired them and felt privileged to be among them.
Hoping to gain even more good experience away from home, I wrote to the editors of about forty newspapers throughout America (I gleaned the names and addresses from a copy of Editor & Publisher I got from the library) toward the end of my junior year in college, asking for a summer job, and got about four replies, one of which led to my being hired for the vacation as a general assignment reporter by the Grand Rapids Press. It was especially thrilling because it was away from home, and it wasn't just sports but "real life"—which turned out to be features on retired couples raising roses, an amateur horse breeder, a collector of rare china, and a veteran of the Korean War who shook so badly when I tried to ask him how he earned his Purple Heart that I didn't have the journalistic guts to continue the interview.
The Press reporters were like a welcoming family, taking me home to dinner and buying me beers, a happy relief from the loneliness of the rooming house where I played the New World Symphony over and over, brooding by Dvorák's music and trying to compose short stories. I felt the composer had really captured something of the deep-down spirit of the land, and I ached to be able to do the same in words.
A few years later after graduation from college I brooded and tried to write stories in another rooming house after working on a newspaper all day, this time in Princeton, New Jersey, where I'd gone to work on the Weekly Packet, which was owned by Bernard Kilgore, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal. Barney Kilgore was an "Indiana boy" and I got an introduction to him through my high-school history teacher, Dorothy Peterson, who had been a classmate of his at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He was a classic newspaperman who loved ink and print and bought his hometown paper to have the kind of hands-on experience with it he no longer had at the Journal from his lofty office with the plush carpet and the Dow-Jones ticker on his desk.
I covered the local hearings on schools and sewers, dashed with my Rolleiflex to photograph as well as report on fires and highway crashes, but my heart wasn't really in it. I longed to get back to the excitement I had already discovered in Greenwich Village, and to see the world as Hemingway had, in far-off exotic places like Barcelona and Paris. The offer of a job as research assistant to my Columbia sociology professor, C. Wright Mills, enabled me to return to New York and bang away at the fiction while I made reading reports for Mills and picked up extra income doing in-house reviews for the Book Find Club.
In Princeton I had met my journalistic hero Murray Kempton, who wrote a splendid column in the New York Post (the kind of elegant prose that made journalism seem worthy to me), and he helped me get my first magazine assignment for the Nation, covering the murder trial of two white men in Mississippi accused of murdering Emmett Till, a black teenager from Chicago who had committed the Dixie "crime" of whistling at a white woman. I began to publish other pieces in the Nation, which allowed me to write as well as I could without the limitations of daily newspaper journalism. Better still, the new publisher, George Kirstein, took a liking to me and my work, and agreed to back me on a trip to Israel to write a series of articles.
I had been inspired by Arthur Koestler's account of his adventures as a young journalist in Palestine in his autobiographical Arrow in the Blue while I restlessly paced my tame, wallpapered room in Princeton. My dream of following in the footsteps of such intrepid writer-reporters (like Hemingway he went on from journalistic apprenticeship to write powerful novels) came true when I sailed on the SS Israel from New York to Haifa in January of 1956.
I learned to observe and experience in a much more focussed way in Israel I think. I have a sense that being away from my familiar home, language, and landscape, plunged into totally new social as well as geographical terrain, accentuated and highlighted what I was seeing and doing. I had a sense of seeing more clearly, into the heart of things, as if all emotion and speech and action were brought out in bright, sharp contrast by the very circumstance of being so far away from everything and everyone I knew. There was an excitement in the writing as well as in the events I was writing about, a sense I was really learning, gaining some command over my craft.
When I got back to New York I found myself drawn to another "foreign" terrain for the setting and subject of my first book—The World of Spanish Harlem. (I moved to 100th Street in East Harlem to begin doing research about the neighborhood in 1957, wrote the following year, and the book was published in 1959.) I was led there by three young women I met at the Catholic Worker hospitality house in the Bowery, and immediately was drawn to this first of New York's Puerto Rican neighborhoods. The bright colors, the staccato Spanish, the rhythmic Latin music all made a different kind of scene, one that, like Israel, stood out for me because of its very unfamiliarity and somehow because of that seemed more accessible for rendering as journalism. I was still looking, learning (I began to realize there would never come a time when you had finished learning, whether in data or the practice of the craft).
I went south to write about the civil-rights struggle for the Nation magazine, from 1955 to 1962, and the articles formed the basis of a book called Revolt in the South that Grove Press brought out as a paperback original. Though I hadn't thought of it till now, that subject also led me to an exotic other sort of scene with its Dixie accents, Faulknerian settings, and issues outlined and highlighted in black and white.
I wrote a profile for Esquire of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the suave and controversial Harlem congressman, which began a productive relationship with that magazine that flourished from 1959 to 1963, when I wrote other journalistic portraits that included William F. Buckley, Jr.; John Dos Passos; and Robert F. Kennedy. It was through my editor at Esquire—a generous man named Harold Hayes whom writers loved because he made the business seem exciting and fun—that I applied for and won a Nieman fellowship in journalism that took me to Harvard in 1963-64. I enjoyed the year, and though I didn't fall in love with either Harvard or Cambridge, I discovered Boston as the place I would happily adopt as home for my adult life.
My own coming to Boston on the Nieman coincided with the arrival of another former Nieman, Robert Manning, to take over the editorship of the Atlantic Monthly. He published an essay I did on Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation, and called me into his office to talk about my doing more for the magazine. Through Manning's support as editor and friend I found a home at the Atlantic as well as in Boston. I began to do essays for them on literature, journalism, and movies, and was given a desk at the magazine's stately offices at 8 Arlington Street overlooking the Boston Public Garden. In 1967 I was also given the title of contributing editor and a place on the masthead, which lasted until a year or so after Manning's untimely departure in an unhappy wrangle with new ownership in 1980.
My contributions to the magazine had been more commentary than journalism, until one fateful evening when, while drinking martinis and cooking hamburgers over an outdoor grill at the Mannings' house in Cambridge, Bob and I got to talking about the frustration of covering the story that most people were talking about that spring of 1967—America's involvement in the Vietnam War. Bob said the reports from the field with statistics of battles didn't really seem to bring much light to the subject, and perhaps the important thing to be examined was what the effect of the war was on our own country, right here at home. I agreed, and over the next martini, Bob said it might be a good idea to send someone around the country and do that kind of a report. I said it sounded like a fine idea, especially for a magazine with a two-month lead time that couldn't keep up with the daily-news aspect of the story, and then Bob asked if I would like to have such an assignment. I said I could start the first of June, when I finished teaching some classes at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
I felt that whatever journalistic experience I had was now put to the test, as I travelled into Canada and around the United States for nearly six months, interviewing soldiers and draft resisters, hawks and doves, families of men who had been killed in action and dropouts protesting the war in love-ins, policemen and editorial writers, housewives arid hippies, the whole spectrum of American society as I found it from one coast to the other, ending up with interviews with government people in Washington, D.C., where I wrote what would become the entire March 1968 issue of the Atlantic, "Supernation at Peace amid War."
I was proud of "Supernation," and it seemed a kind of fulfillment and culmination of my journalistic career. I must have interviewed several hundreds of people, and when I started to write in Washington I worked from grocery boxes full of notebooks and clippings I had accumulated in my travels. I was drained when I finished, and felt in some way exhausted in particular from my role as reporter. I told friends that I'd had enough of that kind of work, that when I finished "Supernation" I had "OD'd on journalism." I was still a writer, of course. And I still hadn't written the novel. I had made false starts and failed to finish. I had written and published three short stories, but never the novel. At age thirty-six, I decided it was now or never. I took the advance I had got from the book publication of "Supernation" and headed west.
When I was in Los Angeles doing research for "Supernation" I had met up with some old friends who had moved there from New York about the time I had gone to Boston, and they invited me to come out and stay in their house in Hollywood while I looked for a place to live and write for a year. I thought the change of scene—to another exotic, foreign sort of ambience like the ones that had stirred me in Israel and East Harlem—might help me get going on the novel. I felt relaxed and confident, and a popular song of the year ran through my head as I travelled to California: "Goin' where the sun keeps shinin' through the fallin' rain / goin' where the weather suits my clothes. . . ."
To See the Dream
Why did I still think, after all that time, that I could write a novel? I was painfully aware of the hollowness of the clichés that all journalists had a novel "in their desk drawer," that everyone thought they "had a novel in them," ha-ha, but few really came through. After I'd finished my first book, the journalistic account of Spanish Harlem, I wrote fifty pages of my first "first novel" and my agent sent it to Houghton Mifflin, who had published Island in the City. They turned it down flat. They patted me on the head and said they thought very highly of me as a journalist, and they wanted very much to publish my next nonfiction book. They said if I wanted to try that novel elsewhere, I was free to do so. I was crushed. I took back the pages and scrunched them into some box to get out later. When I did, they seemed flat and failed (they had failed, at least with my first publisher). That was in 1959, and in the next nine years I made several more false starts, but could never even get into the novel I wanted to write. Yet here I was whistling my way to California to hunker down and write my novel, completely confident I was going to do it. How come?
I believe it was because I had a dream, and I don't just mean a vision or longing or desire to write a novel. I mean I literally had a dream in the form of a novel. The dream began with a title page, then a story took place, with a character rather like myself but who had another sort of job and identity, and at the end of the adventure a final page said "The End" and the book was closed. When I woke, I felt exhilarated. Even though I knew the story was not the one I would write in my novel, it had a beginning, a middle, and end (not to mention the title and end pages), and since it was my dream, it had come from me, and I had the feeling it was a message from some deeper part of myself assuring my conscious self that I really could do it, that in fact I "had it in me" and would someday be able to write the novel.
I had that dream when I was living in the Village after my publisher had turned down my first attempt at a novel, so it must have been around 1959. Though I tried and failed to write the novel several times in the ensuing nine years, it was that dream that sustained me, that gave me some kind of inner assurance that despite all the exterior evidence I could still do it, I could still write that novel. That was the main hope I had going for me when I found an apartment in Venice, California, on Ocean Front Walk in the summer of 1968 and sat down to do it. I finished in Boston in the fall of 1969, and the novel called Going All the Way was published in 1970, became a national best-seller, a dual main selection of the Literary Guild, and was published abroad in England, Italy, Spain, and Japan. I wrote an account of the creation of it called "Novel Bites Man" that came out in the August 1970 issue of the Atlantic.
Writing the novel was indeed a fulfillment, a deep satisfaction of some very basic kind. The novels that followed were tremendously satisfying as well (Starting Over, 1973; Home Free, 1977; Under the Apple Tree, 1982; and Selling Out, 1985) though none matched the emotional "breakthrough" feeling of the first. To my chagrin and surprise, none of them got any easier to write, either. Unlike most enterprises in life—building a house, for instance—writing a novel does not mean that you learn something in such a way that you can do it faster or better or more efficiently the next time. It's as if each time you begin at the beginning, feeling like a sculptor with a rusty Boy Scout knife facing a gigantic boulder.
In between novels I returned to nonfiction for articles and at least one book, though it was not in the old "hard-journalism" mode of objective inquiry. Rather, my book about the making of a soap opera—All Her Children, 1975—was more like "A Fan's Notes" on a show (the daytime serial All My Children) and a world I got hooked on, and whose creator, Agnes Nixon, became a significant friend.
A year later, out of the blue, I got a chance to write my own television series—not a daily soap opera, but a weekly prime-time drama. When I actually got the go-ahead from NBC to write a pilot about a teenage boy growing up in America, I frantically asked the executive who had got me involved, "How do I write a TV script? I've never done it before." He gave me the best advice I ever got in that whole field: "Forget you're writing for television," he said, "and simply write the best story you can." I took him at his word. The result was a two-hour movie that served as a pilot for the series James at 15.
I had tried to write scripts in the past—had in fact done a rewrite of my novel Starting Over, before the book was optioned by a veteran TV writer who wrote his own script that became the feature film. I had also optioned on my own a story called "Dump Gull" by a writer whose work I love named Fanny Howe and wrote a film script, but nothing came of it. Just as I had once been told to "stick to journalism" and not try novels, after writing novels I was told to "stick to
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novels" and not try writing scripts. The TV offer gave me a chance, and it worked. Everything came together in one of the happiest television productions I can imagine, in which everyone involved was proud and pleased (a rare thing for any medium, and especially for television).
David Sontag, then a vice president of television at Twentieth Century-Fox, put together the team of me as writer, Martin Manulis as producer, and Joe Hardy as director, with a cast starring Lance Kerwin as James and Linden Chiles and Lynn Carlin as his parents. It was one of those amazing occurrences when all the elements meshed. The pilot was a hit—number one for the week, and a whopping 42 "share" in the Nielsen Ratings—as well as a big critical success. Watching the show on TV in the Hollywood home of Joe Hardy, with Martin Manulis and other people from the show present, was one of the most "high" points of my life, in terms of pure elation. For a writer to see his work on the air, and know that while he is watching it is also being watched by roughly twenty million people throughout America at the same time, is an incredibly powerful experience, especially when you're proud of the show, as I was of James. Jessamyn West once wrote a book about the making of her novel The Friendly Persuasion into a movie and titled it To See the Dream. That was what the film of James was like for me—a dramatization of the script I had written that was true to my own vision of it.
The pressures of a weekly series and the ratings and the edicts from network executives on high soon brought James to his untimely demise, just after reaching age sixteen (or rather, the twenty one-hour shows plus the two-hour pilot that made up a full television "season" at that time). I stayed on writing TV movies and getting more and more frustrated and homesick for Boston, finally flying (fleeing) back there in April of 1980.
It was a welcome relief to return to the novel as well as Boston, and in the autumn of 1980 I settled into my old neighborhood on Beacon Hill and took up writing Under the Apple Tree, which I hadn't been able to concentrate on after beginning it in Hollywood the previous spring. I finished in the summer of 1981, and felt I had reestablished myself, in terms of place as well as work. In 1984 I finished a novel based on my experience writing a TV series in Hollywood, called Selling Out (it was published in 1985), and felt I had purged myself of the painful downside of that whole period, which had left me feeling like someone at the bottom of "the pit" that people talk about so often in the Psalms.
On the TV talk show Good Day in Boston I was interviewed about Selling Out by psychologist Tom Cottle, a bright and perceptive man who had actually read the book (a rarity among television interviewers). At one point he asked why I—as opposed to the character "Perry Moss," the New England writer who went to Hollywood and barely survived—had returned to Boston. Wondering how I could sum up such a complex set of circumstances in any brief answer, I blurted out, "The Twenty-third Psalm."
The words of that psalm had come to my mind in one of the dark periods before coming back to Boston, and marked the beginning of my most recent book, Returning: A Spiritual Journey (spring, 1988). In 1980 I went to a Christmas Eve service at King's Chapel, a church near where I live on Beacon Hill, and that began a course that took me back to attending church again for the first time in more than a quarter century, joining in 1982, and becoming an active member. I served as cochair of the adult religious education committee from 1982 to 1986, and was named to be a member of the vestry, 1986-89.
All this had a direct effect on what I was writing. I took a class in "Spiritual Autobiography" given by our minister, the Reverend Carl Scovel, in 1982, and then again as an assistant to the minister in that class in 1985. The ten-page spiritual autobiography that I wrote in the second class was published in the New York Times Magazine on December 22, 1985, as "Returning to Church," and republished in newspapers around the country via the New York Times syndication service. I received more mail about it than anything I had ever written, from people all over the country who had experienced some kind of "return" similar to my own, or wished they had, or were on a path toward it, or simply wanted to share some of their own thoughts with a person who had struggled with his own demons and been drawn to a different direction in life and touched something deeper in himself as a result.
Several publishers wrote and asked if I would be interested in expanding the article into a book. That was exactly what I wanted to do, though I hadn't anticipated such a project until I had written the essay in the class at King's Chapel. It felt natural, as if it had flowed out of all the other work I had done as a writer, though it wasn't precisely like any of it. I had made some brief autobiographical connections in a collection of articles I published back in 1966 called Between the Lines, but I had no plan or desire whatsoever to write "my autobiography." This seemed different though, for what I had begun to do in the article, and what I wanted to do in the book, was write about my experience as seen and understood from a spiritual point of view, as opposed to a psychological, economic, or even literary vantage. In doing so, I felt I might be articulating and maybe even, hopefully, illuminating that course in the lives of many others.
Writing that book, Returning, was a different experience than any of the other books I had written. I remembered my old Columbia professor Mark Van Doren speaking of a writer who in his later life seemed to have "tapped some rich vein in himself" that resulted in a particular book. I felt as if, in the writing of Returning, I had gone deeply into myself in a way I had not even done before in my novels, and it was not painful, but rather, seemed like a natural act, a process of being in tune with my own nature and expressing it. I had never so much enjoyed and looked forward to the very act of writing. I don't mean to say it was "easy," but that it was "natural" in a way I had known before only on brief occasions, when a passage or (once) a short story seemed to "flow" as if it were "given."
I look forward to what comes next. At age fifty-five, I feel I have not only "returned," but just begun.
Wakefield contributed the following update to CA in 2003:
The last of a series of iron-barred doors slammed shut behind me. The place was colder and more grim than I'd imagined. There were guards with guns at each of the doors I was taken through, and men in cages, like animals. This was prison.
Welcome to Sing Sing.
I never dreamed that returning to church would lead me here.
Thankfully, I was not an inmate. I'd come to give a workshop in spiritual autobiography for a group of sixteen prisoners who were studying for a master's degree that would enable them to get jobs as chaplains, ministers, or social workers when they finished serving their terms. I had been invited by the man who founded and was leading the program, Rev. George W. Webber, Dean of the New York Theological Seminary (which he'd also founded). "Bill" Webber was also a founder of the East Harlem Protestant Parish, which I'd written about in my first book, Island in the City: The World of Spanish Harlem. Back then I might have more easily believed I would someday be in prison than I'd have believed that I'd ever be giving workshops in spiritual autobiography!
The book Returning: A Spiritual Journey led me on a whole new path, giving workshops like the one I'd taken at King's Chapel, at churches, synagogues, adult education centers, health spas, and Sing Sing Prison. I'd traveled around the country and to Northern Ireland and Mexico giving these workshops, which eventually led to a book on "how to do it" called The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography.
The workshop at Sing Sing was held in a basement room with a coffee pot and a long table with the men sitting around it. They were mostly black, with some Latinos and a few white men, ranging in age from twenties to sixties, imprisoned for crimes ranging from narcotics possession and/or sales to murder. I didn't know or want to know who committed what crime. I only knew I was talking with a group of articulate, intelligent human beings with deep religious faith—most were Christian, some Muslim—who were trying to keep their souls and bodies alive while shut up in cages for years or decades or life.
I always came away from these visits with a sense of uplift and exhilaration. I was awed by the hard faith that sustained these men, and the appreciation they had of any volunteers who came to speak to them and offer some kind of helpful program. I thought of a poster I have by Sister Corita that I've kept for twenty-five years, with a message by Albert Schweitzer that I sometimes forget and that always comes back to me when I try to live by its wisdom: "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve."
* "Do you now renounce your earlier work?"
For a moment I was speechless. I'd just given a talk at St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church in New York City, and a young woman in the back of the audience raised her hand and asked this question. No one had ever asked me that before, but I knew what she meant.
In the five novels I'd written—from Going All the Way to Selling Out—I had dealt frankly with sexuality and used the language appropriate to the situations. I'd never used sex as a subject to shock or offend, but rather to portray real-life situations, and to put in the mouth of my characters the words that such people would really speak. Not only are sexual issues dealt with openly in these works, but religious beliefs are probed and questioned. Sonny Burns, the protagonist of Going All the Way, is a young man rebelling against the conformity of middle America in the 1950s, striking out against home, family, church, and God—a God he feels other people are trying to force down his throat.
When the young woman asked if I renounced such work, I answered honestly, "I embrace my earlier work." I believe that writing is not necessarily "religious" because it is about religion, but rather, because it comes from the heart, the true understanding of the author in his effort to tell the truth as he or she knows it.
The escort on a book tour for Creating from the Spirit told me he had trouble arranging my appearances at some of the stores in his area. He had asked that they have the new book on hand, as well as a recent paperback of my novel Going All the Way. A few of the bookstore managers told him that those books were written by different authors: they thought there was one Dan Wakefield who wrote the spiritual books, and another one who wrote the novels. "I had to convince them," the escort said, "that you're the same guy."
I assured the book store managers I was indeed, "the same guy" who wrote the novels as well as the books on spirituality. And I was proud of them all.
I found myself back in Sheridan Square, the heart of Greenwich Village, on the eve of my sixtieth birthday (an age I never expected to reach in my hard-drinking youth.) Some of the landmarks of my life in that neighborhood from 1956 to 1963 were gone now. Louis' Tavern—where I took dates to dinner for sixty-five cents for spaghetti with two meatballs and salad—was replaced by a super market.
In spite of the disappearance of some of the old landmarks, I felt the spirit and excitement, the Village ambience, of art and books and music and freedom. Just as in the old days, a sense of relief always came when I got off the Seventh Avenue subway at Sheridan Square after being anywhere else in the city. North of Fourteenth Street you needed to wear a jacket and tie; south of that border you could still relax and be comfortable.
I had started going back to Manhattan from Boston in 1990 to visit old haunts and interview friends for a memoir of New York in the Fifties. When the book was published in 1992, nostalgia and restlessness took me back to live in the city again. As a friend told me, "You were seduced by your own book."
Art Cooper, the editor of GQ, had inspired the book when he commissioned me to write a memoir of James Baldwin for the magazine. When it appeared, I got a letter from Seymour Lawrence urging me to write a book about the era when I had known Baldwin, and he offered me a contract. For the publication, Sam Lawrence and Art Cooper hosted a party that celebrated both the book and my sixtieth birthday. It was held at the Village Gate, one of my old hangouts of the '50s, and featured music from a jazz group led by David Amram, a friend of that era who had played with Charlie Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie. I blew out sixty candles on a mammoth cake, while friends from my youth in the Village and later years in Boston looked on and cheered. I could not have imagined a more fulfilling way to hit sixty.
I was naked and shivering as two men in blue aprons dunked me into the cold water of a rectangular pool in the small French village of Lourdes—the most popular pilgrimage site in the world. It was there that a shepherd girl named Bernadette had a vision of the Virgin Mary in 1848, and water from the spring she discovered was declared to have healing powers. People from all over the world come there to take the baths, visit the grotto shrine, walk in torchlight processions honoring Mary, and pray. I traveled there from New York in 1993 researching a book called Expect a Miracle, and I wanted to experience the ritual immersion in the legendary waters.
The dunking at Lourdes reminded me of my baptism at age eleven, when the minister of the Broad Ripple Christian Church in Indianapolis put a handkerchief over my nose and dipped me under the water of the pool created for the ceremony behind the pulpit. No lightning struck or voices came out of the sky on either occasion, but the trip to Lourdes reaffirmed my faith and my sense of wonder and appreciation.
I witnessed again how service brings fulfillment to the servant as well as the served, for everyone who comes with a physical pain or illness is assigned a volunteer to take them from place to place, to make sure all their needs are met. This service creates a sense of joy, and produces the healing of spirit Lourdes emphasizes, and makes the infirmities of the flesh easier to bear, even if not healed. That's why so many people return.
The phone rang in my Village studio shortly after I moved there in '92, and a woman I didn't know asked if I was the writer who gave workshops in spiritual autobiography. When I said I was, she told me she had been to her dentist's office that morning. I wondered what in the world that had to do with me! Then she explained she had read an article about my workshops in a magazine in her dentist's waiting room, and she wondered if I could come to lead one at her church in Palm Beach, Florida.
It was the first of a cluster of unexpected invitations that took me to a place I never imagined going—South Florida. In the next two years I gave talks and workshops at the Miami Book Fair, the Broward County Library's "Night of Literary Feasts" in Ft. Lauderdale, and the Seaside. From my studio apartment on Horatio Street in the next few years, I traveled on writing assignments from Rancho La Puerta, the legendary health spa in Mexico, to a Writers Conference sponsored by Florida International University (FIU). In January of '94 I was asked to teach in the creative writing graduate program of the University, which led to a regular appointment there as writer-inresidence.
I had to laugh when I took my first dip in the ocean outside my condo in Miami Beach, and thought about how I ended up living there. I certainly didn't set out for it, and yet it soon felt natural. I simply followed a path that seemed to have been laid out for me. I thought back to that first phone call from the woman who read about my workshop in the waiting room of her dentist's office, and a startling question occurred to me: Where would I be if she'd gone to a different dentist?
Dressed in farmer's overalls, I stood in a country church outside Indianapolis, surrounded by friends from high school in the summer of 1996. We were not there for a revival meeting, but the filming of a scene for the movie being made of my novel Going All the Way. I had long ago given up hope of such a movie being made, after four different options had expired and the "property," as it's called in Hollywood, had been pronounced dead by the moguls of moviedom. It was still alive, though, in the dream of a young director who had read the book when he was in high school and vowed to make it his first movie.
Mark Pellington had won an MTV award for best director of a music video, and directed documentaries for PBS as well as television commercials, when he told me he wanted to make my first novel his first feature film. He found independent backing, commissioned me to write a script, and against all odds, turned it into a beautiful film with a great cast, including Ben Affleck, Jeremy Davies, Rose McGowan, Jill Clayburgh, and Lesley Ann Warren. The movie Going All The Way was selected for showing at the Sundance Film Festival in 1997 and released in theaters the same year (just before Affleck became a major star with Good Will Hunting.)
The movie of Going All The Way, like the novel it is based on, stirred outrage as well as appreciation. The reviewer for the New York Times viewed its accurate and satiric portrayal of the 1950s mores and morals through the politically correct lens of the 1990s and attacked it with egregious venom, while the Boston Globe rated it one of the Ten Best Movies of the Year, praising its "sheer audacity and elegiac beauty." Roger Ebert on his TV show affirmed the vision that director Mark Pellington so powerfully realized:
I've never seen a film in my life that is closer to the experience in mind and body and in sexuality that I had when I was just getting out of high school and going to college, than this film. In other words, the friendships, the girls, everything reminded me specifically of things I had either seen or gone through.
The movie was a commercial failure but, more than a success, a personal fulfillment, and, I truly believe, a work of art, due to the director and his producer partner, Tom Gorai—and what later turned out to be an "all-star cast." It still has a life on cable TV and DVD.
The premiere of the movie in Indianapolis led to another kind of movie being made of one of my books. A young woman who had gone to the same high school as I did, at a much later time, approached me after the party that followed the hometown opening, and said she'd like to make a documentary based on my book New York in the Fifties. In the summer of '98 I went back to New York with Betsy Blankenbaker, the talented producer/director who was making the documentary, and we interviewed many of the friends and colleagues from that era whom I'd written about in the book, including Gay and Nan Talese, Joan Didion and John Dunne, Bruce Jay Freidman, Nat Hentoff, and many others. Ms. Blankenbaker created an insightful and moving documentary that premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival in 2000, opened theatrically in New York in 2001 to good reviews in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and Newsday, before being shown on the Sundance Channel and released as a video and DVD the following year.
As well as having good movies made of their books, another common dream of writers is having a column of their own, a place to sound off their personal opinions on issues they feel strongly about. That opportunity came to me when a new Web site called Beliefnet.com invited me to be one of their columnists on the subject of spirituality. With great pleasure, I've written for them a column called "Spiritually Incorrect," which has covered everything from the importance of coffee houses as a sanctuary, to the continuing influence of Dorothy Day, the iconoclastic founder of the Catholic Worker movement.
Teaching my writing courses at FIU as well as continuing my workshops in "Spiritual Autobiography" and "Releasing the Creative Spirit" at churches and adult ed centers around the country, gives me more pleasure with each passing year. My teaching has allowed me to write as well, publishing a sequel to Returning whose title poses one of the deepest questions for people of faith, whatever that faith may be: How Do We Know When It's God?
I haven't discovered any quick or easy answers, but the question itself is a kind of guide, a reminder of the mystery. Michael Murphy, founder of the Esalen Institute, summed up its fascination and power when he told me in an interview: "The great game, the game of games, the story of stories is the unfolding of the Divine."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, May 14, 1966.
American Anthropology, December, 1959.
American Journal of Sociology, March, 1960
Atlantic, June, 1966; August, 1970.
Booklist, March 15, 1959; July, 1995, Steve Schroeder, review of Expect a Miracle: The Miraculous Things That Happen to Ordinary People, p. 1840; August, 1999, Ray Olson, review of How Do We Know When It's God? p. 1995.
Bookmark, February, 1959.
Book Week, May 22, 1966.
Catholic World, June, 1959.
Christian Century, March 25, 1959.
Christian Science Monitor, June 16, 1966; June 13, 1968.
Commonweal, June 10, 1966; June 12, 1968; September 8, 2000, Lawrence S. Cunningham, review of How Do We Know When It's God? p. 40.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1958; April 15, 1968.
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service, December 29, 1999, Connie Lauerman, "After Years of Intellectual Atheism, Dan Wakefield Finds Spiritual Healing," p. K4628.
Library Journal, March 1, 1988, Elise Chase, review of Returning: A Spiritual Journey, p. 70; May 1, 1995, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Expect a Miracle, p. 104; July, 1996, Henry Carrigan, Jr., review of Creating from the Spirit: Living Each Day as a Creative Act, p. 123; May 15, 1997, Michael Rogers, review of Going All the Way, p. 107; August, 1999, John Moryl, review of How Do We Know When It's God? p. 101.
Modern Maturity, January-February, 2000, Dan Wakefield, "Soul Man," p. 35.
Nation, May 2, 1959, November 11, 1968; December 23, 1996, Leonard Kriegel, review of Returning: A Spiritual Journey, p. 30.
National Review, May 17, 1966; July 30, 1968.
New York Herald Tribune Book Review, February 15, 1959.
New York Review of Books, November 5, 1970.
New York Times, August 27, 1992, Richard F. Shepard, "Back in Greenwich Village, Strolling among the Wise," p. C1; September 24, 1993, Michiko Kakutani, "Taking Chances to Stroll Literary Paths to the Past," p. C1.
New York Times Book Review, February 15, 1959; May 1, 1966; June 8, 1968; August 9, 1970; March 6, 1988, David Toolan, review of Returning, p. 9; June 7, 1992, Vance Bourjaily, review of New York in the Fifties, p. 1; May 29, 1995, Abraham Verghese, review of Expect a Miracle, p. 22.
People Weekly, November 15, 1999, "Beyond Belief: Successful Novelist Dan Wakefield Found a Second Career Writing about the Spiritual Rebirth That Changed His Life," p. 231.
Poets & Writers, January-February, 2000, Pamela Gordon, "Getting Clear: Dan Wakefield's Creative Path," p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, February 19, 1988, Genevieve Stuttaford, review of Returning, p. 66; March 4, 1988, Judith Rosen, interview with Wakefield, p. 89; April 10, 1995, review of Expect a Miracle, p. 30; April 22, 1968; June 3, 1996, review of Creating from the Spirit, p. 70; July 12, 1999, review of How Do We Know When It's God? p. 91.
Reporter, June 16, 1966.
Saturday Review, March 7, 1959.
Time, February 23, 1968, June 14, 1968.
Washington Post, August 26, 1970.
Dan Wakefield's Home Page: Welcome to Wakespace,http://www.danwakefield.com/ (May 14, 2003).