Scroll To Top
World

"Underground" Author James Purdy Dies

"Underground" Author James Purdy Dies

Author James Purdy, whose obscure but highly regarded works include Cabot Wright Begins and the gay-themed Eustace Chisholm and the Works , died Friday morning at a hospital in New Jersey. Though his exact age is unknown, he was in his mid 80s.

Author James Purdy, whose obscure but highly regarded works include Cabot Wright Begins and the gay-themed Eustace Chisholm and the Works , died Friday morning at a hospital in New Jersey. Though his exact age is unknown, he was in his mid 80s.

Gore Vidal, Dorothy Parker, and Tennessee Williams were among his biggest fans, but outside literary circles, Purdy was a relative unknown. According to the Associated Press, for the past several years he lived in a one-room walk-up apartment in Brooklyn, outside what he considered "the anesthetic, hypocritical, preppy, and stagnant New York literary establishment."

Purdy's early works were given a critical lashing, considered "fifth-rate, avant-garde soap opera." The criticism caused him to leave official literary establishment -- the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

But his works would later be regarded as "genius," particularly for his comic phrasing. Though many of his works have fallen out of print, several have been reissued in recent years.

Purdy told the Associated Press in 2005 that growing up he had been "exposed to everything." He said his books reflected his deep understanding of sex, violence, race, class, familial cruelty, and romantic longing.

His works sharply divided critics. Of Cabot Wright , New York Times book critic Orville Prescott wrote that it was a "sick outpouring of a confused, adolescent, and distraught mind."

Days later, Susan Sontag countered, saying the book was a "fluid, immensely readable, personal and strong work by a writer from whom everyone who cares about literature has expected, and will continue to expect, a great deal."

A few years later, Eustace Chisholm became known as one of his landmark works, prompting the Times to write that it walked "that line of homosexual fiction which announces itself not by subject matter but by tone."

" >
Advocate Magazine - KehlaniAdvocate Magazine - Gus Kenworthy

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories