All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories

Maxwell, William

Vintage, 1995

p. x

William Maxwell, long-term fiction editor at The New Yorker, wrote gentle, luminous stories, including some tiny ones he called “improvisations.”  He tells us that he wrote them to please his wife: When we were first married, after we had gone to bed I would tell her a story in the dark.  They came from I have no idea where.  Sometimes I fell asleep in the middle of a story and she would shake me and say, ‘What happened next?’ and I would struggle up through layers of oblivion and tell her.