John Gould Biography
John A. Gould is a writer: novelist, memoirist, scholar, essayist, journalist, short story writer, occasional poet. He has been an English teacher, short order cook, construction worker, bellhop, shoe salesman. Raised mainly in Maine, he has lived in southern Indiana, western New York, and eastern Massachusetts. His first novel,The Greenleaf Fires, is set in the Wiscasset area of the Maine coast, emerging from stories he heard growing up in Brunswick. He has followed Greenleaf with four other Wiscasset novels, most recently A Cry From the Ground.
In 1970-71 he lived for most of a year in a white GMC Carryall named Moby Dick, traveling around the United States, Mexico, and Canada, writing a newspaper column called “Moby Dick and Me.” In 1976, alone, he rode a ten-speed bicycle from Maine to Seattle, Washington, a trip that inspired the latest novel,The Ecology of the Heart.
He taught high-school English in four schools until moving to Phillips Academy, Andover, where, over twenty-six years, he focused heavily on teaching writing. With the encouragement of his department chair, the late Craig Thorn, he wrote a textbook, The Grammar of Alistair Barnstable. The book’s pedagogy is based on the concept that syntax should be studied in context, so it buries its examples in original stories – about the eponymous Alistair and his pets – insisting that students consider language in action rather than in exercises.
One of his senior electives at Andover was “The Longest Novel Ever Written,” a year-long study of Anthony Powell’s 12-volume masterpiece A Dance to the Music of Time, which resulted in an anthology of student essays titled Dance Class. He has presented papers at three of the Biannual Conferences presented by the Anthony Powell Society, as well as papers for the Thomas Hardy Society and the Boston Chapter of the Jane Austen Society of America.
His wife, Jane, is an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Massachusetts; they have two sons, Gardner and Sam. In 1990 he and his family went to England for a sabbatical. His then five-year-old son’s anorexia there resulted in the memoir,The Withering Child. Both sons by now have finished college and are happily and fruitfully employed, a fact for which Gould gives daily thanks.
After retiring from high school teaching, he for the recent four years taught a grammar/writing course at Bennington College, titled “Through Syntax to Style.” Some of the students’ most successful responses to his assignments are reproduced in the blog section as “Grammar Class.”