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"You will leave messages behind..."

How do you do it, Joan? There cannot be that many ways left in our language to paint such stunning images. As I've noted before, I cannot read your prose but think of Jim Salter. Every word feels coined anew for its sentence...


I believe... that you would have it no other way. You will leave messages behind—paragraphs and books to be read and re-read. Please continue adding to that treasure. Unborn people of quiet and passionate sensibilities will thank you one day.


With affection and ongoing admiration,

G. E.

Another Reader's Mash Note [Yes, she's a dear friend.]

Joan! Your book is a complete delight. I finished it over the weekend and am full of love and admiration. I haven't torn through an essay collection like that in ages. It's all the things: beautifully written, wisely observed, funny, wry, opinionated, self-aware, deliciously gossipy (at points) and, in the end, utterly honest and vulnerable and strong and bracing.

I am a dog-earer of pages I want to return to, and my copy of Late Work is full of little triangle folds. So much wisdom here, and perfect, surprising observations. And reading recommendations, natch. I wish we could meet on your porch to drink and dish about it. You said it didn't receive the advance effort it deserves - and that, sadly, I believe. But rest assured, a book like this will keep going, pressed from hand to hand. I will certainly do my part, share it with friends.

And what to say about your lacerating honesty re the downside of the writing life: my god. True and painful and bleak and yet onward we go. I've rarely seen the depths plumbed so clearly. It felt ... strangely freeing.

You say of Maxwell's typing interview habit (a delightful tidbit if ever there was one): Don't you just fall out of your chair, loving this? Same can be said for so many gems in these pages.

I just love you, Joan. And, if possible, I love your writing more.

Much falling-from-chair love and admiration,

G. W. 

A reader's mash-note

Dear Joan Frank ~
I'm on my second go-round of LATE WORK. You feel like a new, wise friend who whistles for the cab and just gets it done! Man, I have been thirsty for this book! There's all kinds of pinging! going on in my brain when I read it. Already bought a couple of copies for friends. Merry Christmas to them!


Now, I'm cracking open The Outlook for Earthlings, waiting for the afternoon to get truly rainy here (NY) ... Pretty soon, I'll be riding in that cab you hailed. Thank you, thank you.

[M. H.]

Recommended Reading/Prime Picks – Donovan's Bookshelf

"LATE WORK, a memoir of life experience [linked] with a literary approach to books...will resonate deeply with readers who turn to the written word for solace in times of trouble...particularly useful for writers who already know the cathartic value of writing and reading, pulling together the wisdom and art of fellow writers who have either written late in life, or [are] in the process of psychological or literary struggles: '[William] Maxwell had to find out what he thought the best way he knew—unmuddied by voice noise or ego noise,' Frank observes. 'A different voice spoke when thoughts were summoned, organized, typed out.' The result is a tribute to authors, writers, and the process of the word artist's exploration of the creative life. LATE WORK will appeal to a wide audience of readers and writers." - Diane Donovan


"A powerful novel, told by one with the command of pitch-perfect language to tell it."— Greg Sarris, author of Becoming Story: A Journey among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors

"Few writers are as honest and uncompromising about their art as Joan Frank...The advice to writers in her essay 'What Are We Afraid Of?' becomes advice to anyone feeling unmoored right now...We must teach ourselves to 'shut out the roar.' Joan Frank offers strategies to help us find our way back to doing the work we care about."

— Bob Wake

I received LATE WORK yesterday, read the first essay ["What Would John Williams Do"], stopped reading and am now at my computer ordering 2
gift copies for dear friends of mine. LATE WORK is so well written—not a wasted word—everything tells! Joan's writing makes it seem as if she's in my living room talking only to me. A beautiful, seamless book because it's all in her unique and compelling and funny and wise and scathing voice. Brava, brava!

— Helen Sheehy, author of Eleanora Duse: A Biography


"Compulsively readable...Gorgeously written, a paean to female friendships, and the story of a life. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and in fact refused to rush through it to meet a review deadline because I wanted to savor it. It's worth reading and rereading. Highly recommended." 



"With technicolor period details, intense reflections, and devastating acuity about women's compromises in love, The Outlook for Earthlings is an elegant elegy." - Karen Rigby, FOREWORD REVIEWS







"A precise and exquisite writer. This book is a tour de force."
‒ Carol Sklenicka, author of Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life and Alice Adams: Portrait of a Writer

"So deep, so exquisitely written and authentic—a balm to the heart." 
‒ Sarah Stone, author of Hungry Ghost Theater


"In four lustrous, moving, and life-affirming novellas, Frank presents characters who ponder the mystery of existence from a vantage closer to the end than the beginning. They ask, "Given life, what do we do?" The heartaching, worth-the-pain-of-living beauty of the world is a holy undertone. What it's about remains perpetually just out of reach. No one has the answer, but Frank's wisdom has lessons for us all." — Mary Ellen Prindiville, BOOKLIST


"[T]aken as a whole, Where You're All Going becomes an expansive book that reads similarly to Joan Silber's Ideas of Heaven. In each of the novellas, Frank shows the intimate ways people are connected while exploring the distance that exists between them." —Wendy J. Fox, BuzzFeed



"For all its attentiveness to beauty and loss, this wise and humorous collection is also a moving record of anticipation and expectation. Each place, taken on its own terms, yields up its own flavors and character, but everyone is bound by one eloquent fact: 'time is the vastest real estate we know.' Philosophical, sophisticated literary forays that are a pleasure to dwell in." — KIRKUS REVIEWS


"This collection of 16 scintillating essays on travels map[s] psychological interiors as much as [it does] geographic landscapes...Frank's rich, imagery-driven prose lends immediacy to her observations. This is a perfect book for readers to take on their travels, even if they're only going as far as the armchair." — PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY


"Frank's years of experience give her book a mature, sophisticated tone, even when it's recalling the wonder of her days as a starry-eyed, fearless young traveler who, in her bones, felt immortal. Her essays are spiced with wry humor that skewers travelers' illusions with examples of how "a traveler's suffering starts after shutting the front door." Mocking even the best-laid plans, Frank writes, "We travel expecting something. What we get is something else." — FOREWORD REVIEWS


"Published by a small press, this wonderful novel about two mismatched middle-aged friends challenging each other to grow deserves big attention." — PEOPLE MAGAZINE

"Deeply perceptive...Quite wonderful." — THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE