Top Boy

M. G. Stephens


ISBN 978-1-944682-71-2       120 pages      $15.00

on M. G. Stephens



Circles End, prose


“That opening in the oyster bar has whetted expectations.”

     Seamus Heaney



Jigs & Reels, short lyrical prose


“What instantly catches and pleases me is the detail, the way it is all specific, like they say, and is equally that lovely feel of let me tell you...”

     Robert Creeley



After Asia, poetry (1993)


“The collection proceeds at a leisurely pace, enchanting and wholly believable.”

     Publishers Weekly


“...wonderful...I very much enjoyed the poems.”

     Annie Dillard



Shipping Out, novel


“Shipping Out is beautiful. A gem. I love this book. It has the elegance and strength of the sea.”

     Hubert Selby Jr.


“Shipping Out calls for reading and re-reading. Its density is such that images emerge on a second or third reading that are missed in the first. It has a richness and complexity to rival most recent poetry, let alone prose.”

     Luc Sante, American Book Review


“Stephens has a prose imagination second to none. You’ve never read a sea story like this one; what’s more, it’s obviously more truth than fiction, which makes it doubly disturbing.”

 Seymour Krim

    Still Life, novel


“Still Life is a painfully comic gem of a novel.”

     Walter Abish



Season at Coole, novel


“Lesser novelists faced with this array of characters would be content with merely depicting the decay of familial relationships. Mr. Stephens weaves them into a poem that soars. Out of remarkable bits and pieces—the interior monologues, the vivid scatological imagery, the impressionistic dialogue—there emerges a Coole gestalt that is far more than the sum of its sad ingredients.”

     New York Times Sunday Book Review


“It’s an eloquent style that calls for reading aloud, an urban Irish style perhaps, perfect for nipping out the back door, rolling garbage cans as obstacles after you, and loping over the rooftops to safety in a vacant lot.”

     Rolling Stone


“Don’t touch this book unless you value genuine talent wherever it shows. But it can’t be denied. It shows.”

     L. A. Times


“A host of colorful, depressing, funny, but always original characters.”

     Publishers Weekly


“This first novel, scarcely promoted on publication, is a modern comic masterpiece of Irish family life.”

     Richard Elman, Gentleman’s Quarterly


“...a magniloquent, malignant rant, somewhere between James Joyce expatiated and Richard Pryor on a roll.”



“A bravura novel, funny and wild and language is its pole star, language that careens with a mad, sweet Irish lilt.”

     Kirkus Reviews


“A very beautiful novel, heartbreaking and comic, which is no easy

thing to do.”

     Gilbert Sorrentino


“Fantastic, astonishing, powerful...shines with honesty, craft, talent and love.”

     Joel Oppenheimer



The Brooklyn Book of the Dead, novel


“It is a joy to read because Michael Stephens is such a superb writer, a master of language, in short, a poet. In his immaculate artistry he has given us another way of perceiving our lives and our struggle, forcing us to ask ourselves what our legacy will be.”

     Hubert Selby Jr., author of Last Exit to Brooklyn


“The Brooklyn Book of the Dead is a cruelly funny, wrenchingly sad, yet beautiful work of fiction.”

     Gilbert Sorrentino, author of Mulligan Stew


“Michael Stephens was my Dante into dark and dangerous places that native Irish writers never knew.”

     Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes


“This beautiful, cruel book—classical in form, Celtic in language, Brooklyn-American in content—is Michael Stephens’s best book and may well be a masterpiece. It’s like a pit bull on a chain, and you can lose a hand if you try to pet it. Read it carefully, warily.”

     Russell Banks, author of Affliction and Continental Drift



Lost in Seoul and Other Discoveries on the Korean Peninsula, travel memoir


“Michael Stephens teaches us how to look at things we have never seen before—and to make them part of what we know about ourselves.”

     Paul Auster, author of The New York Trilogy


“Lost in Seoul is terrific—alive, great details, poignant...”

     Anne Waldman


“Mr. Stephens himself is a bard, and this is a poet’s evocation of Korea: personal, profound and—not to be forgotten—very funny.”

     New York Times Sunday Book Review


“In this exceptionally winning book, novelist Michael Stephens (Season at Coole) accompanies his Korean-born wife back to Seoul to meet her extended family. The result is a non-academic, thoroughly personal, rather winsome portrait of a Korean clan and of the society in which they live. Even readers with little interest in Korea will find Stephens’s book both delightful and memorable.”

     Washington Post Book World


“A wonderful fusion of observation and poetry. Nothing I’ve read about Korea comes close to the pleasures and insights—the pleasures of insight—Stephens’s book affords.”

     Richard Gilman, critic and Yale professor



Where the Sky Ends, memoir


“A brilliant, scorching, tremendously funny and moving story of alcoholism as a family disease told by a superbly gifted writer and survivor.”

 Ann Douglas, author of Terrible Honesty:

     Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920s


“Stephens has his own American voice in which he delivers bright, compassionate, and often very funny cross-cultural history.”

     Maureen Howard, novelist and essayist


 “Stephens’s unrelenting analysis of what went wrong in a family nearly wrecked by alcohol made me realize that the possibility of change requires staring into the dark places not only without self-deception but with a willingness to forgive. This is a ferocious story gracefully told.”

 Stephen Dobyns, poet and novelist, author of Velocities and The Church of Dead Girls


“Michael Stephens is one of the most consistently powerful and self-insightful personal essayists in America. This memoir is as essential as it is unnerving, as generous as it is astringent.”

     Phillip Lopate, author of The Art of the Personal Essay


“In Where the Sky Ends, Michael Stephens—poet, novelist, playwright—has brought the force of all his talent to rendering this harsh yet regenerative family story with generosity and hard-won wisdom.”

     Maureen Howard, author of Facts of Life


“To those who know Michael Stephens’s work, it will come as no surprise that he has written, with his usual brave honesty, the story that our literature has been circling around for some time now. Where the Sky Ends is Stephens’s Long Night’s Journey into Day, a restorative narrative that looks the demon of family alcoholism square in the eye and stares it down with a ferocious clarity and compassion.”

     Richard Hoffman, author of Half the House: A Memoir



The Dramaturgy of Style: Voice in Short Fiction, essays


“I wish Michael Stephens would stop re-routing subway lines inside the city of literature and giving the rest of us head-down trudgers terminal dread. We have our safe stereotypes to cling to, why can’t he let us alone? Here he’s gone and upset the purity of those venerable destinations—poetry, drama, fiction—with some subversive notion of literary miscegenation. The brass of this disrespectful Irishman is a thing to wonder at and warn against.”

     Seymour Krim


“I suspect it is a work of absolute genius. Everything flows in exactly the right way; i.e., the content, form(s), language, images, tone, sound, the whole thing.”

     Hubert Selby Jr.


S. E. Wolan

M. G. Stephens is the author of twenty books, including the critically acclaimed novel The Brooklyn Book of the Dead; the memoir Lost in Seoul; and the award-winning essay collection Green Dreams. His play Our Father ran on Theatre Row (42nd Street) for over five years, and has been produced several times in Chicago, Los Angeles, and London. He was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Brooklyn and further out on Long Island. He has degrees from the City College of New York, Yale University, and the University of Essex in Colchester, England. Stephens taught in many writing programs, including Columbia, New York, and Princeton universities, as well as the University of London. He has also worked in the U.S. Merchant Marines, as a gas-pump jockey, a boxing writer, a greens’ keeper, carpenter’s apprentice, Manhattan air conditioning installer, dishwasher, short-order chef, bartender, bouncer, Lower East Side Christmas-tree salesman, night watchman, runner, typist, editor, proofreader, translator, bodyguard, dog-sitter, painting-watcher, gallerist, collagist, and provocateur. After living in London for fifteen years, he recently returned to the U.S.