Saturday, February 26, 2005
Gore Vidal on James Purdy
From the New York Times Book Review:
On Purdy's latest book jackets I hail him as ''an authentic American genius''; emphasis on the two adjectives. Purdy's prose is often reminiscent of the century before last when nouns were apt to do double duty as verbs, like ''funning,'' which an editor once told Purdy was not authentic American speech even though any student of W. C. Fields's early movies knows that it is: ''I was just funning, dear,'' says Fields to the inimitable Gloria Jean. Purdy was born and raised in New England's most authentic annex, the Western Reserve, whose crown jewel is the state of Ohio, or, as Dawn Powell once sweepingly put it, ''All Americans come from Ohio originally, if only briefly.'' That was then, of course. Frontiers have since shut down, and true blue is often mistaken by twilight's last gleaming for red.
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