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James Purdy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

(b. July 17, 1923) is a noted American novelist, short story-writer, poet, and playwright who since his debut (63: Dream Palace, 1956) has published over a dozen novels, more than half-a-dozen collections of poetry and short fiction, as well as a handful of plays. In addition, his work has been translated into more than 30 languages. Yet despite Purdy's prolific output, and despite lavish praise from writers as diverse as Dame Edith Sitwell (an important early advocate), Dorothy Parker, Edward Albee, Terry Southern, and Marianne Moore, outside of a devoted readership of critics, fellow authors, and cult-followers his work has not been widely embraced.

Purdy has been the recipient of the Morton Dauwen Zabel Fiction Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1993) and was nominated for the P.E.N.-Faulkner Award for his novel On Glory's Course (1984). In addition, he has won two Guggenheim Fellowships (1958 and 1962), and grants from the Ford Foundation (1961), and Rockefeller Foundation. His work often deals with homosexual themes and has been described as 'singular,' 'enigmatic,' 'controversial,' and 'obscure,' all of which may help explain his limited audience. However, following several reissues of previously out-of-print novels, as well as a recent appreciation by Gore Vidal in the New York Times Book Review, Purdy's work has lately enjoyed a small renaissance.

Purdy was born in Fremont, Ohio and educated at the University of Chicago and the University of Puebla in Mexico. He has worked as an interpreter and has lectured in Europe with the United States Information Agency. Purdy currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The American composer Robert Helps (1928-2001), a friend of Purdy's, used Purdy's texts in two of his works, The Running Sun and Gossamer Noons, both of which have been recorded by the soprano Bethany Beardslee.

Titles by James Purdy

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