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A Kind of Dream
Kelly Cherry

Terrace Books

Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the American Association of School Librarians
Best Books for General Audiences, selected by the Public Library Reviewers

“Kelly Cherry has a charged intellect that enlivens whatever it lights on. In A Kind of Dream she achieves a moment of transcendence that is rare in American fiction. I have a suspicion it may be a great book.”
—David R. Slavitt, author of The Duke’s Man

Life is A Kind of Dream. So is the art we make in response to life. In A Kind of Dream, five generations of an artistic family explore the ups and downs of life, discovering that for an artist even failure is success, because the work matters more than the self.

The selves in this book include Nina, a writer, and her husband, Palmer, a historian, who, having settled into marriage and family life, are now faced with the bittersweetness of late life; BB and Roy, who make a movie in Mongolia; Tavy, Nina’s adopted daughter, a painter in her twenties who meets her birth mother for the first time; and Tavy’s young daughter, Callie, a budding violinist. Other vivid characters confront the awful fact of violence in America; try to cope with political ineptitude; and one devises his own code of sexual morality. Perhaps the most important character is Nina’s little dog, a salt-and-pepper cairn terrier of uncommon wisdom.

Fame, death, rash self-destruction, laughter, the excitement of making good art, love, marriage, being a mother, being a father, the appreciation of beauty, and always life—life itself, life in all its shapes and guises—it’s all here. A Kind of Dream is the culminating book in a trilogy Kelly Cherry began with My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers and The Society of Friends. Each book stands alone, but together they take us on a Dantean journey from midlife to Paradise. Cherry’s prose is hallmarked by lyric grace, sly wit, the energy of her intelligence, and profound compassion for and understanding of her characters. Set in Madison, Wisconsin, A Kind of Dream reveals a surprisingly wide view of the world and the authority of someone who has mastered her art. It is a book to experience and to reflect upon.


Kelly Cherry. Photo credit: Burke David.Kelly Cherry has previously published twenty-one books, nine chapbooks, and two translations of classical drama, including the novels My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers, Augusta Played, We Can Still Be Friends, In the Wink of an Eye, and The Lost Traveller’s Dream,. Her stories have been reprinted in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize, and New Stories from the South and she received the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for best volume of short stories (The Society of Friends) published in 1999. She is a former Poet Laureate of Virginia and the Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She lives in rural Virginia.






“Cherry turns in a polished story collection featuring several generations of an artistic family.”
—Library Journal

“When read as a collection of narratives that the character, Nina, has conjured, A Kind of Dream becomes a richer and more complex work than when read otherwise.”

“It is Cherry's understanding of how our formative experiences, our connections to others and our knowledge of ourselves play out over time, that gives her book wisdom and pathos.”
American Magazine

“[Cherry] embellishes her prose with evocative images and instances of heartbreaking candor. . . . Her impressionistic style and imagery feel like snapshots of the subconscious.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A Kind of Dream’s interlinked stories are about five generations of a family whose members are musicians, painters, writers, and actors. Cherry shows us ourselves and our world in surprising and beautiful ways.”
—Dwight Allen, author of The Green Suit

“A brilliant conclusion to a major extended work of imagination, Kelly Cherry’s A Kind of Dream is a great novel on its own but it is also part of the personal masterpiece of an important American writer. Kelly Cherry’s vision is universal and will endure.”
—Robert Olen Butler


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A Kind of Dream

May 2014
LC: 2013037616 PS
176 pp.   5 1/2 x 8 1/4

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Cloth $26.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-29760-2
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The Terrace Books logo is designed in the shape of a book with a Union chair in silhouette on the cover. The words Terrace Books, Madison, Wisconsin appear also.