A young boy is asked to maintain the fiction that his father is alive. A young woman is shot at by a hunter. A schoolgirl dies in an exploding car. In Lives of the Poets, six tense, poignant, and mysterious stories are followed by a novella in which the writer emerges from his work to reveal his own mind. Here the images and the themes of the earlier stories become part of the narrator's unsparing confessions about his own life. Separated from his own family, he chronicles the edgy urban landscape around him, discusses marriages that fail but continue to entangle spouses, the influence of wives and other women, and the obsessions that haunt him. And in this brilliant, funny, and painful story about the story, the writer's mind in all its aspects--its formal compositions, its naked secrets--emerges as a rare look at the creative process and its connection to the heart. An astonishing work, Lives of the Poets varies from realistic to dreamlike to become a virtuoso performance by E. L. Doctorow, deftly done by an author in total control of his craft, aware both of the enormity of his talent...and the price it exacts.