Marguerite Young is best known as the author of Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, a 1200-page novel published to great critical acclaim in 1965 and since then considered a landmark of contemporary American literature. But she is also an enchanting essayist and a perceptive critic, and Inviting the Muses gathers all her shorter prose writings, most of which are unknown even to her admirers.
Three short stories (one previously unpublished) are followed by essays and reviews on a wide variety of topics: the Midwest in which Young grew up, writers she admires, the act of writing itself, dolls, horses, deaf-mutes, Mormons (Young is a descendant of Brigham Young), and always the primacy of the imagination in all human endeavors.
Young celebrates “complex life and complex letters” (the title of one of her essays), avoiding the commonplace to seek out the mysterious unities that bind disparate activities. Her style mixes elegance with whimsy, wisdom with wit, and her attitude alternates between wonder for life in all its bizarre variety and impatience with those blind to that variety. Inviting the Muses reconfirms Young’s eminence as a grande dame of American letters.