Weber, Ronald 1934-
Weber, Ronald 1934-
Born September 21, 1934, in Mason City, IA; son of Harley George and Anne M. Weber; married Patricia Jean Carroll, December 27, 1955; children: Elizabeth, Andrea, Kathryn. Education: University of Notre Dame, B.A., 1957; University of Iowa, M.F.A., 1960; University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, Ph.D., 1967.
Home—Valparaiso, IN. Office—University of Notre Dame, Department of American Studies, 228 Decio Faculty Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, lecturer, and educator. Loras College, Dubuque, IA, instructor in English, 1960-62; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, assistant professor, 1963-67, associate professor, 1967-76, professor of American studies, 1976—, became professor emeritus; chair of department, 1970-77, chair of Graduate Program in Communication Arts, 1972-79. University of Coimbra, Fulbright lecturer, 1968-69, senior Fulbright lecturer, 1982. Member of executive committee, Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs, 1993-96.
American Studies Association, Great Lakes American Studies Association (president, 1980-82), Catholic Commission on Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (executive committee, 1993-96).
National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1972-73; faculty award, University of Notre Dame, 1976; The Literature of Fact: Literary Nonfiction in American Writing was included on Choice's outstanding academic book list, 1981-82; Gannett fellow, Columbia University, 1985-86; bronze medal from Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, 1988.
O Romance Americano, Livraria Almedina (Coimbra, Portugal), 1969.
The Literature of Fact: Literary Nonfiction in American Writing, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1980.
Seeing Earth: Literary Responses to Space Exploration, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1985.
Hemingway's Art of Nonfiction, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1990.
The Midwestern Ascendancy in American Writing, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IN), 1992.
Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 1997.
News of Paris: American Journalists in the City of Light between the Wars, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2006.
America in Change: Reflections on the 60's and 70's, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1972.
(And contributor) The Reporter as Artist: A Look at the New Journalism Controversy, Hastings House (New York, NY), 1974.
(With Walter Nicgorski, and contributor) An Almost Chosen People: The Moral Aspirations of Americans, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1976.
Company Spook, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1986.
Troubleshooter, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1988.
The Aluminum Hatch, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 1998.
Catch and Keep, Write Way (Aurora, CO), 2000.
Contributor of numerous articles to periodicals, including Cimarron Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Sewanee Review, South Atlantic Quarterly, Journal of Popular Culture, and Review of Politics.
Ronald Weber is a professor of American Studies whose early writings are dedicated to academic studies of American literature, journalism, and culture. He is particularly interested in how fiction writers produce art and make a living from it. Weber brings an insider's knowledge to his research because he, too, writes novels for the mass market. Only a few months separate the publication of his scholarly work Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print and a "whodunit" fishing novel, The Aluminum Hatch.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Weber "one of the finest writers on writers." This reputation is based primarily on two Weber nonfiction titles, Hired Pens and The Midwestern Ascendancy in American Writing. Hired Pens profiles authors who attempted—not always successfully—to earn a living on the strength of their journalism and fiction at a time when pulp and higher quality magazines were clamoring for copy. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "previous authors have covered the ground he walks in this new book, but no one has covered it better." St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviewer Steve Weinberg commented: "Like most authors writing about the freelance life, Weber romanticizes from time to time what is rarely romantic. But he always tempers it with passages explaining the frequently depressing reality of selling second-rate work to pay the bills." New York Times Book Review correspondent Brenda Wineapple called Hired Pens "a lively, if crowded, survey of commercial writers and editors from the 1830's until 1969," adding that the book "tells of the pain and glamour (with an emphasis on glamour) of the good old days in Grub Street."
The Midwestern Ascendancy in American Writing explores the profusion of Midwestern literary artists in the latter decades of the nineteenth century and the early decades of the twentieth. "The Midwestern Ascendancy is very well done," wrote James Hurt in Studies in American Fiction. "Weber writes smoothly and lucidly and with an obvious empathy with and affection for the writers he includes."
Weber has also published several detective thrillers, most recently two with fishing themes set in the rural wilds of Michigan. The Aluminum Hatch pairs Don Fitzgerald, a lottery-winning journalist and fisherman, with Mercy Virdon, who works for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), as an unlikely detective team who together seek to solve the murder of a canoe livery owner on Michigan's Borchard River. Booklist reviewer John Rowen observed that "the novel offers a strong mystery, realistic dialogue, well-timed wit," and "vivid descriptions of outdoor life." The novel's setting also reflects Weber's interest in fishing and the outdoors. Virdon and Fitzgerald pair up again in Catch and Keep, a novel that combines an assassination-style murder in Detroit with angling adventures in the hinterlands. Rex E. Klett described Catch and Keep in Library Journal as "a pleasing sequel for fans." While Mystery Reader reviewer Jennifer Monahan Winberry found Weber's novel "very strong on atmosphere, but much weaker on characterization," Booklist reviewer John Rowan praised the series for its "stylish prose," and "tight plotting," with "a sharp yet affectionate portrait of small-town life."
Weber returned to nonfiction based on the lives and careers of writers in News of Paris: American Journalists in the City of Light between the Wars. In the years following World War I, the cost of living was low in Paris, and jobs were plentiful for wordsmiths of various types. Enticed by cheap living and the romance of the city, hopeful journalists and writers thronged to Paris in the years between the two Great Wars. Those interested in "American journalism as practiced abroad in the 1920s and 1930s will enjoy this engaging book," commented Vanessa Bush in Booklist. Weber draws on primary documents such as letters, memoirs, and writings of participants to construct his picture of Parisian writers' lives and the practice of international journalism that flourished at the time. The more liberal atmosphere of Paris energized the writers and launched the careers of a number of journalistic and literary icons, including Henry Miller, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, E.E. cummings, and Archibald MacLeish. Weber notes the intrigues and evolutions at major Paris papers, including the Paris Herald, Paris Tribune, and the Paris edition of the New York Herald. He examines how the rise of the expatriate Parisian journalist was fueled by an American desire to read more about the world and to consider an international perspective on politics and world events. Weber describes both the highs and lows of life in Paris "during the glory years, chronicling everything from deadline desperation to clandestine affairs," remarked a Publishers Weekly contributor. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews called the book "agreeable, old-fashioned cultural history: heavy on anecdotes, light on analysis." Marc Weingarten, writing in the New York Times Book Review, concluded that "Weber's book is an old war chest full of stories about this intoxicating period in journalism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Directory of American Scholars, 10th edition, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Booklist, March 1, 1998, John Rowen, review of The Aluminum Hatch, p. 1098; March 1, 2000, John Rowen, review of Catch and Keep, p. 1199; April 1, 2006, Vanessa Bush, review of News of Paris: American Journalists in the City of Light between the Wars, p. 7.
California Bookwatch, May, 2006, review of News of Paris.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2006, review of News of Paris, p. 176.
Library Journal, February 15, 1990, Michael Rogers, Hemingway's Art of Nonfiction, p. 186; August, 1992, Charles C. Nash, review of The Midwestern Ascendancy in American Writing, p. 102; April 1, 1998, Rex E. Klett, review of The Aluminum Hatch, p. 129; April 1, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Catch and Keep, p. 134; February 15, 2006, Marie Marmo Mullaney, review of News of Paris, p. 132.
New York Times Book Review, March 30, 1986, Newgate Callendar, review of Company Spook, p. 22; January 18, 1998, Brenda Wineapple, "Grinding It Out," p. 15; April 23, 2006, Marc Weingarten, "Paris Edition," review of News of Paris.
Publishers Weekly, January 3, 1986, review of Company Spook, p. 44; November 10, 1997, review of Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print, p. 63; December 19, 2005, review of News of Paris, p. 49.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998, Steve Weinberg, "Author Explains History of How Hacks Turned Writing into Careers," review of Hired Pens: Professional Writers in America's Golden Age of Print, p. E5.
Studies in American Fiction, autumn, 1995, James Hurt, review of The Midwestern Ascendancy in American Writing, p. 248.
Studies in the Novel, summer, 1992, Gerry Brenner, Hemingway's Art of Nonfiction, p. 210.
World of Hibernia, spring, 2001, Ronald Weber, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Angler," p. 58.
Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.msu.edu/ (October, 2006), Catherine McKercher, review of News of Paris.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (January 10, 2007), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Catch and Keep.