White, Michael C. 1952- (Michael Charles White)
White, Michael C. 1952- (Michael Charles White)
Born January 6, 1952.
Home—Guilford, CT. E-mail—[email protected]
Anthologist, editor, and novelist. Previously taught writing at New York Institute of Technology, New York, NY, and Springfield College, Springfield, MA; Fairfield University, Fairfield, CT, faculty; Stonecoast M.F.A. Program, ME, faculty.
Advocate Newspapers Fiction Award, 1996, for the story "Nights"; nominated for a National Magazine Award, for the story "Take Her Dancing."
American Fiction 1988, Wesley Press (Hartford, CT), 1988.
(Editor, with Alan Davis) Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers, introduction by Anne Tyler, Birch Lane Press (Secaucus, NJ), 1990.
(Editor, with others) Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers, introduction by Tobias Wolff, Birch Lane Press (Secaucus, NJ), 1992.
(Editor, with Alan Davis) Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Volume IV, introduction by Wallace Stegner, Birch Lane Press (Secaucus, NJ), 1993.
A Brother's Blood (novel), HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor, with Alan Davis) American Fiction, Volume Eight: The Best Unpublished Stories by Emerging Writers, guest judge, Charles Baxter, New Rivers Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1996.
(Editor, with Alan Davis) American Fiction, Volume Nine, guest judge, Joyce Carol Oates, New Rivers Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1997.
The Blind Side of the Heart (novel), Cliff Street Books (New York, NY), 1999.
Marked Men: Stories, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 2000.
A Dream of Wolves (novel), Cliff Street Books (New York, NY), 2000.
The Garden of Martyrs, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Soul Catcher, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2007.
Contributor of short stories to magazines and journals.
Novelist Michael C. White is the author of literate mysteries that explore character and moral ambiguities in addition to finding solutions to crimes. In works such as A Brother's Blood, The Blind Side of the Heart, and A Dream of Wolves, White "skillfully swirls gut-wrenching self-discovery and mystery," stated a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The author is also known for his work on his own and others' short stories—his collection Marked Men: Stories was released in 2000. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that this story collection "offers simple observations that resonate in the reader's mind."
White began his career editing anthologies of short stories, such as the series "Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers." "Emerging writers"—as defined by Tobias Wolff, who judged and introduced the third volume of the series—are those "not yet famous enough to enjoy the certainty of publication elsewhere." White edited several editions of this series while working as a writing professor at Springfield College. The anthologies received mixed reviews. A Kliatt reviewer described the first volume in the series as "entertaining" and "enlightening." In contrast, a Publishers Weekly reviewer called the fourth volume of the series "disappointingly uneven," while admiring several of the stories for "settings that evoke moods of quiet desperation." A contributor in Library Journal characterized this volume as "not a vital purchase, but possibly of interest."
White's debut novel, A Brother's Blood, was published in 1996. Described by a contributor in Publishers Weekly as a "literary thriller," A Brother's Blood tells the story of a Maine logging community that had been a labor camp for German prisoners of war during World War II. The novel focuses on the owner of the town's country store, Libby Pelletier, as she finds herself ensnared in a web of violence and cover-ups when a German comes into town and seeks her aid as he researches the death of his brother many years earlier. She is drawn even deeper into the search for answers to the mysteries of the town's history when her own brother turns up dead. While reviewers were mixed on the originality of the plot, there was consensus that White's prose captures the atmosphere of an insular Maine town and the voices of its eccentric citizens. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews stated that "the mystery plot is tired and slack, but White's lovely way with Libby's cracked voice may well win over his share of crossover readers." Writing in Booklist, a reviewer called A Brother's Blood "dazzling," adding that it is "both a subtle and cunning morality tale and a powerful character study." Publishers Weekly praised the novel for "shuttling deftly between past and present, driven by undercurrents of latent energy," adding that A Brother's Blood "marks White as a talented and energetic writer."
The Blind Side of the Heart, White's second novel, is given added dimension by the unreliability of the narrator. Maggie Quinn, an alcoholic and prostitute, is saved from suicide by the kind intervention of Father Jack, a Catholic priest. The grateful Maggie serves Father Jack as his loyal housekeeper for almost two decades, but her deep affection for the man is challenged when he is accused of not one, but two heinous crimes. In Library Journal, reviewer Susan Clifford praised the book for its "taut suspense, well-crafted characters, and dense atmosphere of justice." According to Teresa Malcolm in National Catholic Reporter, the mystery "is more interested in exploring the nature of loyalty and faith in another human being…. The reader comes to care greatly about Maggie's struggle to come to some peace with herself and with Fr. Jack…. Her journey makes for a compelling read."
A Dream of Wolves also contains a murder, but the story is less about finding the killer and more about moral obligation in the face of uncertainty. Dr. Stuart Jordan is the medical examiner in a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Called to report on a grisly shooting, he agrees to take custody of the prime suspect's infant daughter. In the meantime, Jordan must also contend with his manic-depressive wife—who comes and goes in his life, often causing chaos—and with the demands of his mistress that he obtain a divorce. Washington Post contributor Carolyn See wrote: "Taken on its own terms, this novel contains a fascinating collection of Southern customs…. And, of course, male readers will recognize and sympathize with the doctor's timeless dilemma." In a starred review, a Publishers Weekly contributor commended A Dream of Wolves as an "emotionally packed novel [that] delivers first-class examinations of morality." Connie Fletcher in Booklist characterized Jordan as a "wise, flawed" narrator whose "takes on human nature [are] wrenching."
In The Garden of Martyrs, White combines fact with fiction, setting his historical thriller in Boston during the nineteenth century and focusing on the murder of a simple farmer in 1805, a crime for which two local Irishmen, Dominic Daley and James Halligan, are charged. White uses as his backdrop this harsh period during the country's history when the influx of Irish immigrants had many local Protestants up in arms at what they considered a plague of Catholics taking over the city. This prejudicial attitude played a major role in the case against the accused men. However, Daley's family pleads his case with their local priest, Father Cheverus, who, despite a wish to keep the parish neutral in order to preserve some modicum of peace, feels it is his duty to help his own parishioners. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked: "Writing with a good feel for the period, White … manages to get the history right and keep the narrative taut at the same time."
Soul Catcher follows the story of Augustus Cain, a slave catcher whose returns runaways to their masters in order to collect a reward. A hard character, Augustus served in the Mexican War, but has become little more than a gambler and a drunk with a pile of debts to his name. His plan is to catch one more set of runaway slaves and then, after using the money they net to pay of his debts, move on and try to start his life over. But the plan changes abruptly when he catches one of the slaves, Rosetta, and she becomes the answer to what he has unknowingly been seeking. Ron Samul, writing for Library Journal, observed that "White has created a complicated and deeply scarred protagonist looking for salvation in a dark vision of human bondage."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 1996, review of A Brother's Blood, p. 326; January 1, 2001, Connie Fletcher, review of A Dream of Wolves, p. 926.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2004, review of The Garden of Martyrs, p. 249.
Kliatt, January, 1991, review of Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers, p. 27.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Susan Clifford, review of The Blind Side of the Heart, p. 143; August 1, 2007, Ron Samul, review of Soul Catcher, p. 75.
National Catholic Reporter, May 5, 2000, Teresa Malcolm, review of The Blind Side of the Heart, p. 40.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1993, review of Birch Lane Presents American Fiction: The Best Short Stories by Emerging Writers, Volume IV, p. 64; September 9, 1996, review of A Brother's Blood, p. 65; July 26, 1999, review of The Blind Side of the Heart, p. 59; July 31, 2000, review of Marked Men: Stories, p. 71; December 18, 2000, review of A Dream of Wolves, p. 53.
Washington Post, February 16, 2001, Carolyn See, "The Hollers of the Heart," p. C5.