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Out of his unpromising cultural background in the American Midwest, Jonathan Force manages in the course of his undergraduate years at Yale to establish an Archimedean point outside of all culture from which to view contemporary life. He becomes a famous psychologist, an internationally renowned social critic and pundit whose published books—Force Fields, Reasonable Force, Uses of Force —strike such surprising and resonant notes that, in the words of his contemporaries, the public has come to think with his ideas rather than about them. In late middle life he experiences a personal revelation that will lead him to abandon his famous pundit persona altogether—and to move beyond the constricting limitations of “knowing it all.” 

About the Author

A writer of fiction, poetry, and literary non-fiction, Richard Hawley has published more than twenty books and several monographs. His essays, articles and poems have appeared in dozens of literary, scholarly, and commercial journals, including The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, American Film, Commonweal, America, Orion, The New England Journal of Medicine, and The Christian Science Monitor and is represented in many literary anthologies. For ten years he taught fiction and non-fiction writing at The Bread Loaf Writers Conference in Vermont, and he continues to teach developing writers in a variety of settings. Recent work, including work in progress, draws increasingly from depth psychology and classical philosophy to illuminate contemporary problems.

Richard’s website

Reviews & Interviews:

Interview with Lynn Sloan on Necessary Fiction

Richard writes about his first writing experiences on The Quivering Pen

Interview on Fiction Writers Review


“Richard Hawley, one of my favorite writers, offers a rare, dazzling view of an original boy’s inner life.”

—Hilma Wolitzer, author of Hearts

“Richard Hawley explores the numinous life force we can only sense, sometimes glimpse from the corner of our eye…It is vital to our lives, and Hawley illuminates this other world in this lovely volume.”

—Mike Ruhlman, author of Boys Themselves

“Explores, with eloquence and sensitivity, the secret life of children and the unexpected moments that linger in memory and give shape to our souls.”

—Blake Bailey, author of Cheever: A Life

“In Richard Hawley’s absorbing Knowing It All, Jonathan Force, a successful and culturally influential man, examines the arc of his charmed life and is shaken by what he discovers. As the ironic title Knowing It All signals, Force does not know it all. As he reviews his path from boy to man, from lover to husband, from student to public intellectual, his introspection is suffused with memories and longings unmet. What is the measure of a life? How can everything that appears to be right feel so irrelevant? What is real and what is a sham? Writing with crystalline prose and profound insight into the interior life, Hawley entwines a singular man’s story with an inquiry into what makes a life meaningful. A gripping, powerful and deeply felt novel.”

—Lynn Sloan, author of Principles of Navigation