The Tiger and Other Tales Cover

Jack Foley’s autobiography begins, “What is a life but stories?” The stories collected here are not his life but a fantastic consciousness in which he is as lost as anyone. Foley writes what he does not know; he writes what he can imagine. The dead sprout up here as easily as leaves of grass. These stories manifest “the strangeness and the power of poetry":

“His friend had gone. They had embraced, exchanged good-byes. Michael had said, You know, the trouble with me is that I can only be certain I’m alive when I’m in the midst of a crisis. I manufacture them, I suppose. The words stayed in Abraham’s mind: certain I’m alive. It was then that he remembered. Michael was not alive. He had been dead for several weeks. He remembered the letter, Dear Abraham, it is with great pain that we tell you…. Michael had been buried in six feet of ground, he had been at the funeral himself. How could he have forgotten that?”

Stylistically the stories range widely—some are comic, some bring tears. All plunge us into the enigma of the human heart. In a poem about a Christmas tree, Foley writes of

                   our liv-
   ing, dead tree, but dec-
   orated with shining life
   to tell us death is wild
   transfiguration death is


“Jack Foley continues to grow and surprise. Add to his accomplishments in poetry, criticism, literary scholarship, and radio promotion of poetry and poets, this small, brilliant collection of tales, short plays and occasional prose pieces. Foley’s unique combination of insight, originality, erudition, and humanity, combined with a hitherto unsuspected flair for story-telling, are in full display here—from a bittersweet faux Irish fable to a tongue-only-partly-in-cheek apologia for the Australian literary hoax ‘Ern Malley’ (the intellectual’s J.T. Leroy), from a purgatorial comedy of family manners to a Shavian satire full of pith ‘and vinegar,’ set in Hell and starring the Devil and G. B. Shaw himself, to the collection’s eponymous masterpiece, an arabesque from a 21st century Scheherazade. The book is a bracing pleasure.”

—Christopher Bernard, author of Voyage to a Phantom City, A Spy in the Ruins, Dangerous Stories for Boys, In the American Night, and The Rose Shipwreck.

Jack Foley (born 1940) has published thirteen books of poetry, five books of criticism, and Visions and Affiliations, a “chronoencyclopedia” of California poetry from 1940 to 2005.

His radio show, Cover to Cover, is heard on Berkeley station KPFA every Wednesday at 3; his column, Foley’s Books, appears in the online magazine, The Alsop Review.

With his late wife, Adelle, Foley performed his work (often “multivoiced” pieces) frequently in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is continuing to work with others. With poet Clara Hsu, Foley is co-publisher of Poetry Hotel Press.

In 2010 Foley was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Berkeley Poetry Festival, and June 5, 2010 was proclaimed “Jack Foley Day” in Berkeley.

pub date: 2016-12-01
$18.00 | 160 pages
isbn: 978-1-944697-13-6 (paperback)
Cover design by Royce M. Becker