Thursday, March 26, 2009

Passages: James Purdy

James Purdy (Malcolm, The Nephew) died a few weeks ago. He was 94. His age only came to light after his death on March 13th. Purdy was born in 1914 but, according to The Telegraph, he “habitually cited 1923.” From The New York Times:
James Purdy, whose dark, often savagely comic fiction evoked a psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence and isolation, died Friday in Englewood, N.J. He was 94 and lived in Brooklyn Heights.

His death was confirmed by John Uecker, a friend and assistant. Wayward and unclassifiable, Mr. Purdy, the author of the novels “Malcolm” and “The Nephew,” labored at the margins of the literary mainstream, inspiring veneration or disdain. His nearly 20 novels and numerous short stories and plays either enchanted or baffled critics with their gothic treatment of small-town innocents adrift in a corrupt and meaningless world, his distinctive blend of plain speech with ornate, florid locutions, and the hallucinatory quality of his often degraded scenes.
Tip of the hat to The Book Depository, who brought Purdy’s passing to our attention.



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