Harold Brodkey


Harold Brodkey

Harold Brodkey (October 25, 1930 – January 26, 1996) was an American author.

Brodkey was born in Staunton, Illinois and raised in University City, Missouri outside St. Louis. After graduating from Harvard University in 1952, Brodkey began his writing career by contributing short stories to "The New Yorker" and other magazines. His stories have won him two first-place O. Henry Awards. In 1993 Brodkey announced in "The New Yorker" that he had contracted AIDS. He later wrote "This Wild Darkness" about his battle with the disease. At the time of his death in 1996, he was living in New York City with his wife, novelist Ellen Brodkey (née Ellen Schwamm).

Brodkey is most famous for his rumoured multi-volume novel cycle "Party of Animals", which in all likelihood was nonexistent.

Literary career

Brodkey's career began quite promisingly with the short story collection "First Love and Other Sorrows", which received widespread critical praise at the time of its 1958 publication.

Soon thereafter, in 1964, Brodkey signed a book contract with Random House for his first novel, titled "Party of Animals". The promised novel subsequently went to Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1970, then on to Knopf in 1979.

However, aside from sporadic short stories (which would eventually be collected in 1988's "Stories in an Almost Classical Mode"), Brodkey failed to deliver his promised first novel, "Party of Animals", even as the reputation of the book began to grow. Rumors at the time of publication of his second story collection, "Stories in an Almost Classical Mode" —released exactly 30 years after his first collection—claimed that "Party of Animals" was multi-volumed and epic in scale. Famed editor Gordon Lish called the unpublished (and unseen) novel "the one necessary American narrative work of this century." [Newsweek, November 18, 1991.] Literary critic Harold Bloom declared "If he's ever able to solve his publishing problems, he'll be seen as one of the great writers of his day." [Time magazine, November 25, 1991.]

During this time, Brodkey earned a living writing television pilot scripts for NBC, and teaching at Cornell University.

Finally, in 1991, Brodkey's first novel, "The Runaway Soul" was finally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. The reviews were at best mixed. Though it was assumed that this novel was the opening volume of "Party of Animals", subsequent publications by Brodkey rendered inescapable the conclusion that "Party of Animals" did not exist, at least not in the Proustian sense that the publishing world had been led to believe and expect.

Bibliography

Short story collections

* "First Love and Other Sorrows" (1958, ISBN 0-8050-6010-3)
* "Stories in an Almost Classical Mode" (1988, ISBN 0-679-72431-1)
* "The World is the Home of Love and Death" (1997, ISBN 0-8050-5999

Novels

* "The Runaway Soul" (1991, ISBN 0-374-25286-6)
* "Profane Friendship" (1994, ISBN 0-374-52973-6)

Non-fiction

* "" (1996, ISBN 0-8050-4831-6)
* "My Venice" (1998, ISBN 0-8050-4833-2)
* "" (1999, ISBN 0-8050-6052-9)

Miscellanea

* "Women and Angels" (1985, ISBN 0-8276-0250-2)

External links

* [http://wiredforbooks.org/haroldbrodkey/ 1988, 1992 interviews with Harold Brodkey] by Don Swaim at Wired for Books
* Jonathan Baskin, "Fading Fast," "Bookforum" [http://bookforum.com/archive/feb_06/baskin.html]


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