Harold Brodkey 1930-1996
(Born Aaron Roy Weintraub) American short story writer, essayist, novelist, poet, and memoirist.
Brodkey is acknowledged as a formidable stylist whose prose is characterized by grandiose metaphor, intense lyricism, and minute descriptions of emotions and events. In his fiction, Brodkey generally eschews plot and linear time, preferring instead to produce accumulations of insights and feelings about small but important incidents in the lives of his characters. Most of his writing is concerned with reconciling personal tragedy through reminiscences of his childhood and adolescence, during wich Brodkey endured the death of his mother and adoptive parents. A major theme in Brodkey's fiction involves the loss of innocence and the struggle to regain grace.
Born on October 25, 1930, Brodkey grew up in Alton, Illinois, a small town about twenty-five miles from St. Louis. Much of Brodkey's work draws from his childhood experiences and familial relationships with his adoptive parents and sister. In 1948 he enrolled at Harvard University and earned his B.A. in 1952. His first collection of short stories, First Love and Other Sorrows (1957), garnered favorable critical attention. In the next few decades, he published short fiction, poetry, and essays in such periodicals as the New Yorker, Esquire, and the Partisan Review. He was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1984 and a Guggenheim fellowship in 1987. Brodkey worked as a staff writer at the New Yorker from 1987 until his death from complications from AIDS in 1996. He wrote about his illness and impending death in a series of autobiographical essays that appeared in the New Yorker and were collected in the volume This Wild Darkness: Story of My Death (1996).
The nine stories in Brodkey's initial collection, First Love and Other Sorrows, are composed in the slick, realistic manner characteristic of fiction published in the New Yorker, where eight of these pieces first appeared. Brodkey utilized events from his own life to depict familiar experiences of childhood, college romance, marriage, and parenthood. All of the stories in his next collection, Women and Angels (1985), focus upon the emerging consciousness and imagination of Wiley Silenwicz, a sensitive prodigy who serves as Brodkey's persona. Wiley reappears as the protagonist of his long-awaited novel, The Runaway Soul (1991), which appeared to mixed reviews amongst literary critics. Another collection of short fiction, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode (1988), contains twenty-five years of previously published work and exhibits radical changes in his writing, from carefully-crafted tales of middle-class Jewish life to highly metaphorical, visionary stories that attempt to recreate the sensations of childhood and adolescence. Brodkey's long-time love of Venice inspired Profane Friendship (1994) the story of an intense love affair with an American novelist and Italian actor. His firsthand account of his impending death from AIDS, This Wild Darkness is considered one of Brodkey's more accessible and powerful achievements.
Although some critics faulted Brodkey for inadequate plot and character development and a narrow range of subject matter, others lauded his ability to render nuances of perception and complex psychological and moral states. Reviewers have expressed mixed opinions on his highly personal, almost confessional style: some have commended his unflinching and powerful insights on every aspect of his life; others consider it self-indulgent, frustrating, and tedious. Yet most critics contend that his treatment of such common life experiences as childhood, sexuality, adolescence, marriage, and parenthood is unique. He has often been compared to Marcel Proust in his interest in every minute detail of his life and his utilization of memory in his work.
First Love and Other Sorrows (short stories) 1957
Women and Angels (short stories) 1985
A Poem about Testimony and Argument (poetry) 1986
Stories in an Almost Classical Mode (short stories) 1988
The Abundant Dreamer (short stories) 1989
The Runaway Soul (novel) 1991
Profane Friendship (novel) 1994
This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death (memoir) 1996
The World Is the Home of Love and Death: Stories (short stories) 1997
My Venice (essays, short stories, memoirs) 1998
Sea Battles on Dry Land (essays) 1999
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SOURCE: French, Sean. “Scientific Fiction.” New Statesman & Society 2, no. 70 (6 October 1989): 44.
[In the following review, French offers a laudatory assessment of The Abundant Dreamer.]
Harold Brodkey has an extraordinary, almost subterranean, reputation among a small group of readers and critics in the United States. This seems strange at first because, though Brodkey must now be in his fifties, his reputation is based on a virtual handful of short stories as well as the rumours about a novel that Brodkey has been working on for many years.
Furthermore, the subject matter of this, Brodkey's second collection of stories [The Abundant Dreamer], is the standard fare of modern American short fiction, especially that which appears in the New Yorker: the love affairs and family relationships of wealthy, East Coast, highly educated, often Jewish people.
Also, like his fellow New Yorker contributor, John Updike, Brodkey is little interested in matters of form. There is no writing about writing here, no preoccupation about the artificiality of the fictional form. In an old-fashioned way, Brodkey is using his literary tools to explore reality.
It all seems very traditional but it is Brodkey's very ordinariness that makes these stories so startling. “His Son, in His Arms, in Light, Aloft” consists of nothing but a man's...
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SOURCE: Rothstein, Edward. “Look Homeward, Angel.” New York Review of Books 37, no. 2 (15 February 1990): 36-41.
[In the following review, Rothstein places Stories in an Almost Classical Mode within the context of Brodsky's oeuvre, deeming it an “unsettling book, far different from Brodkey's first collection.”]
It is more than a year since Stories in an Almost Classical Mode was published, and the various expressions of dissatisfaction, unease, and enthusiasm that greeted it have since abated. Harold Brodkey's book of short stories, just published in paperback, can now begin to stand apart from the expectations and posturings that have always seemed to accompany the author and word of his work, for in the career he has mapped out for himself, in the discussion his work has inspired, in the gossip that has accompanied the wait for this, his second commercially published book in thirty years, Brodkey's personality has seemed inextricably linked to the reception of his work.
Brodkey's reputation was established with First Love and Other Sorrows, a collection of stories that appeared in 1958 when he was twenty-eight. In the decades since, a number of stories appeared in The New Yorker, Esquire, and The New American Review and aroused comment on the “promise” of this American writer. Anticipation also grew with news of a novel begun...
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SOURCE: Josipovici, Gabriel. “Straining after Glory.” Times Literary Supplement n.s. (15 November 1991): 5-6.
[In the following mixed review, Josipovici considers The Runaway Soul an ambitious but deeply flawed novel.]
Harold Brodkey is a very modern phenomenon. For over twenty years he has been famous in literary circles not so much for what he has written as for what he has been in the process of writing, a massive novel for which publishers have been giving him large advances but which he has been unable or unwilling to finish. Now at last it is out, and we can all decide for ourselves what the emperor's clothes are made of.
Publishers like to think of themselves as having both a hard head for business and a keen eye for literary quality; every now and again, they succumb to the illusion that they have come on a writer who is a genius but also an excellent business proposition. Having seen some of the novel-in-progress, Gordon Lish of Knopf (one of Brodkey's publishers) asserted: “One could take virtually any section of [it], put it into type right now and have a book that would surpass almost everything you and I have ever read.” And, according to the Washington Post, “For years a small clutch of writers and critics not ordinarily given to breathless adoration has compared Brodkey to Freud, Wordsworth and Whitman.” The names of Joyce and Proust have also...
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SOURCE: Adams, Robert M. “A Good Minestrone.” New York Review of Books 38, no. 19 (21 November 1991): 3-5.
[In the following positive review, Adams provides a stylistic examination of Brodkey's The Runaway Soul.]
Harold Brodkey's big book The Runaway Soul appears before us trailing a long prepublication history, many high commendations, and a counterfoil of questioning if not derogatory comments. Associated and overlapping materials have already been published in two collections of short stories (First Love and Other Sorrows, 1958, and Stories in an Almost Classical Mode, 1989). There has also been an extraordinary amount of gossip and opinionated talk about the author's career, much of it provoked by Brodkey's own personality, some of it inspired by the special reach of his literary ambition, even more of it centering on the prolonged and apparently turbulent process of editorial consideration and reconsideration, which has now resulted in a first, but monumental, novel by an author entering his sixties.
At first survey The Runaway Soul resembles, and in many detailed passages it reads like, yet another example of that familiar fictional type, the novel of development, for which German criticism has provided the name of Bildungsroman. Such a book typically describes the process by which a sensitive young person (often the artist himself) grows up,...
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SOURCE: Parrinder, Patrick, “An American Genius.” London Review of Books 13, no. 22 (21 November 1991): 23.
[In the following derogatory review, Parrinder disparages The Runaway Soul as “formless, plotless and graceless.”]
‘This man has been called America's greatest writer,’ boasts Cape's press release. ‘On the evidence of two collections of short stories, he has been compared to Proust, Wordsworth and Milton.’ After more than twenty-five years' labour, he has finally published ‘the most eagerly awaited first novel of all time’. Sadly, The Runaway Soul is only the most overweight first novel of all time. A sort of Midwestern version of Whitman's ‘Song of Myself’, its 800 pages of first-person narrative are formless, plotless and graceless. Harold Brodkey, who began his career in the New Yorker in the Fifties, has been slowly maturing not a well-tempered masterpiece but the garrulous, profligate self-celebrations of a precocious adolescent who never grew up. It is not even clear why the novel ends where it does, since ‘let us pause’ is all the narrator says in the middle of his last paragraph. Few of those lulled by the publicity into buying this book are likely to get that far.
As entertainment The Runaway Soul is a non-starter, but as a supposedly major contribution to mainstream American fiction it is conclusive evidence of the...
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SOURCE: Binding, Paul. “Worlds Turn.” New Statesman & Society 4, no. 179 (29 November 1991): 40.
[In the following review, Binding offers a mixed assessment of The Runaway Soul.]
The great contemporary American psychologist, James Hillman, sees soul as “the poetic basis of mind” that converts “events into experiences” and stands in intimate and perpetual relation to death. “The soul is not unconscious … The psyche is constantly making intelligible statements.”
Such thinking surely permeates Brodkey's long, ambitious, questing novel. With indomitable energy, it attempts to find how events, whether “true” or not, are translated into experiences that will influence the soul's dialogue with the world. Hillman also opposes “soul” to “spirit”: spirit insisting on unity, soul being nurtured by diversity. This idea informs the novel. Spirit leads to totalitarianism; attention to the needs of soul to the pluralism necessary for sane living. For all its ruthless concern with the individual predicament, The Runaway Soul is ultimately a passionate plea for pluralism; for polytheism as a means of society's deliverance.
Wiley Silenowicz, born in 1930, is adopted when two years old by S L and Lila Silenowicz, a Jewish couple in St Louis. In 1944, S L dies, leaving Wiley, whom he has loved and yet insulted, doubly fatherless, at...
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SOURCE: Rubin, Merle. “Long-Awaited Novel Flatly Fails to Deliver.” Christian Science Monitor 84, no. 17 (18 December 1991): 13.
[In the following review, Rubin asserts that “The Runaway Soul turns out to be as bad as the most pessimistic critic might have predicted.”]
Reviewers seem to have been sharpening their knives in anticipation of the almost comically long-delayed debut of Harold Brodkey's first novel, which has finally been published after nearly 30 years of writing and revising. Brodkey was accorded the status of being an important writer working on a major novel for some three decades, with only two collections of short stories (one published in 1958, the other in 1988) to his credit. In a world where so many talented and productive writers have to struggle for recognition—or, in some cases, to be published at all—Brodkey's position as one of the anointed seemed to typify everything wrong with the New York literary establishment: its insularity, its complacency, its endless capacity for self-promotion masked as reverence for literature.
Overlong, shapeless, and unwieldy, The Runaway Soul turns out to be as bad as the most pessimistic critic might have predicted. The story begins with the birth of its hero-narrator—Wiley Silenowicz, a Midwestern Jewish-American boy of the same vintage as the author—then leapfrogs to various significant (to him,...
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SOURCE: Davis, Robert Gorham. A review of The Runaway Soul. New Leader 74, no. 14 (30 December 1991): 30-3.
[In the following review, Davis criticizes what he preceives as pretension, posturing, and lack of coherence in The Runaway Soul.]
Harold Brodkey's unreadable magnum opus [The Runaway Soul], a great disservice to literature, consists of 835 remorselessly difficult pages, 600 words to the page, and is so literally weighty that it is best read in bed supported by a pillow. Brodkey has told interviewers that he worked on the novel for 27 years, an average production rate of less than three pages a month. His caterpillar pace has done strange things to the text and its effect on readers. Some scenes make us feel as if we were watching a tennis match in slow motion replay, with 10 seconds for every exchange at net, 15 for every serve.
Brodkey did prepare us for this in some of his short stories, for instance in “Innocence,” a 34-page tale that appeared originally in the New Yorker and was reprinted in his 1988 collection, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode. (Two earlier collections came out in 1958 and '85.) Most of his short fiction has been published by the New Yorker, which admires him vastly and while he has on occasion worked editorially.
The last 20 pages of “Innocence” are devoted to telling how in 1951 or '52 a...
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SOURCE: Brodkey, Harold, and James Linville. “Harold Brodkey: The Art of Fiction CXXVI.” Paris Review 121, no. 33 (winter 1991): 51-91.
[In the following interview, Brodkey discusses his time at Harvard, his creative process, and his attitude toward fame.]
For the past thirty years Harold Brodkey has pursued a path unique in American letters. After publication of a volume of finely made short stories written in his twenties, First Love and Other Sorrows (1958), many of which first appeared in The New Yorker and were acknowledged to be of outstanding promise, Brodkey began composition of an extended prose work, portions of which have been published in magazines and journals, and which have provoked a wide diversity of critical opinion—from Denis Donoghue's claim in Vanity Fair that it is a “work of genius” to suggestions that it may be a bloated hoax. In the meantime, the work became something of an object of desire for editors; it was moved among publishing houses for what were rumored to be ever-increasing advances, advertised as a forthcoming title (Party of Animals) in book catalogues, expanded and ceaselessly revised, until its publication seemed an event longer awaited than anything without theological implications. In recent years, some critics, editors and publishing wags have begun to adopt, in relation to this native of the Show-Me state, what amounts to a...
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SOURCE: Bromwich, David. A review of The Runaway Soul. New Republic 206, no. 4 (27 January 1992): 30-4.
[In the following review, Bromwich offers a stylistic analysis of The Runaway Soul.]
The words “narcissist” and “solipsist” are sometimes used interchangeably, but they have very different meanings. A narcissist sees himself in everything. A solipsist sees everything in himself. The narcissist has a chance of becoming a great artist, in genres related to the monologue. The solpsist is more likely to act with some human decency, notwithstanding a certain blindness to the reality of other people. Harold Brodkey frankly presents himself as a narcissist and a solipsist at once; it could even be said that the makes recognition of the fact a part of his metier. He talks a good deal, in writing, about being his kind of writer; about living the life he has to live in order to publish his life. So placed, and appearing with a first novel, he has sought to give a new sense to the publisher's standby “long awaited.” This book has waited until the author is in his 60s, and its length makes a barely expedient compromise with interminability. That it should have come out a mere 800 pages may seem, to the appetite of the monologuist, hardly better than its not coming out at all, but a compromise had to be struck somewhere.
Brodkey must have felt that the book was needed to correct...
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SOURCE: Sage, Lorna. “The World and I.” Times Literary Supplement n.s. (1 April 1994): 21.
[In the following review, Sage submits a favorable assessment of Profane Friendship.]
That he has set this tale in Venice makes Harold Brodkey seem more “placeable” in all sorts of ways. His first novel, Runaway Soul—so long-gestated, so notorious in advance, so aggressively take-it-as-brilliant or leave it—suffered horribly (some thought wonderfully) from his transparent determination to wrestle himself inwardly into the role of the Great American writer. This time he is taking a step back, putting it in a certain perspective—“it” being the same old ambition, what else, this is his subject—but here his exacerbated and jealous anxiety of influence acquires an appropriate world. For Venice is a commonplace of twentieth-century fiction, an imaginative meeting-point and a market of images, where you brush shoulders with James and Mann, Calvino and Coover, Spark and McEwan. And, although Brodkey has not become intertextually relaxed, or indeed user-friendly, exactly, when he writes like this, he is in company:
This half-abandoned circus of a city, this dead city, my Venice in its lovely fields of wetly-clanging sunlit water, such a ferocity of decoration and appetite for happiness …
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SOURCE: Toíbín, Colm. “Insiderish.” London Review of Books 16, no. 10 (26 May 1994): 7.
[In the following review, Tóibín compares The Runaway Soul to Profane Friendship, maintaining the latter novel “does not match up to The Runaway Soul in style or scope; it is too long and self-indulgent; some of it is only half-imagined.”]
One of the early chapters in Harold Brodkey's first novel The Runaway Soul is entitled ‘The River’. The narrator, after his father's death, returns to a landscape which he had known in early childhood. Some of the prose is plain and clear: ‘At the mouth of the stream, where it emptied into the inlet, under willows, lay a very large, ungainly river dinghy. It was greenish and heavy, made of thick and heavy pieces of wood, scarred and scratched, peeling and warped, moored to a ring in the trunk of a willow.’ But Brodkey sets out in this book to find another language, broken and fast-flowing, to slow down experience as it is rendered in fiction, to make it more exact and true, to establish, if he can, the way in which several things happen in the mind at once, the way in which sensations come not single spies but in battalions.
He has hardly any rules to follow. Henry James's later prose style, with its long, flickering sentences and infinite subtlety, must have been a help. And other modern voices which deal with the...
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SOURCE: Jacobs, Rita D. A review of Profane Friendship. World Literature Today 69, no. 1 (winter 1995): 137-38.
[In the following review, Jacobs deems Profane Friendship “an ambitious but unsuccessful novel.”]
Set in 1930s Venice during narrator Niles O'Hara's childhood and adolescence, Profane Friendship presents itself at first as a love story that, as it unfolds, becomes an indulgent and obsessive tale of homoerotic fascination. That the setting suggests such a clear allusion to von Aschenbach and Tadzio's journeys through these same canals and dark calles is unfortunate in that Harold Brodkey's novel falls so far short of the magic of Thomas Mann's classic novella.
Brodkey establishes his first-person narrator quickly as an old man recalling his youth and adolescence in Venice. After several short but affecting chapters about young Niles's family and his relationships with his parents and brother Carlo, we meet Onni, who becomes the rather tiresome focus for the rest of the novel. It is not that Onni is not charming or worthy of attention; he is, up to a point. But from the moment Niles meets Onni in grade school and relinquishes his title as the most beautiful child in school to Onni—“I didn't much mind. He was of another order of physical presence entirely. He had a quite serious early glamour”—we begin what will be Niles's lifelong...
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SOURCE: Als, Hilton. “Birth in Venice.” New Yorker 71, no. 21 (24 July 1995): 88-89.
[In the following review, Als commends Brodkey's unique narrative style.]
A penchant for projecting my life into the margins of almost any writer's text was tempered when, at the age of twenty-three, I discovered Harold Brodkey's fiction, in this magazine. The publication of his long story “Nonie,” in 1984, alerted me to the presence of one who clearly owned the page his work appeared on:
Did Nonie feel real pain? Nonie was often miserable psychically—and she had bad monthly cramps. She was dramatic over scratches, cuts, her periods, and being snubbed. … Did she feel pain to match the pain she caused? Or was it that any pain triggered her demand for justice? She burned to death—maybe that hurt. … Do you love your sister? Probably. It's enjoined. I still don't care much what happened to her. If I love her or forgive her or whatever, it doesn't mean I want her to come back—I don't want to be with her. Any forgiveness going, she always used for her purposes. I can't go through that anymore—you know how it is.
Brodkey's syntax—idiosyncratic, monumental, an inimitable kind of music—conveyed many things simultaneously: that the phrase “dysfunctional family” is pleonastic; that American colloquial speech can convey...
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SOURCE: Scull, Andrew. “Losing the One You Love.” Times Literary Supplement n.s. (15 November 1996): 15.
[In the following review, Scull unfavorably compares Brodkey's This Wild Darkness to Mark Doty's Heaven's Coast.]
Harold Brodkey was a marvellous person: physically irresistible, profoundly original, immensely intelligent, an extraordinary conversationalist—someone who inevitably incurred the unremitting envy and wrath of many members of the mean-spirited New York literary scene, as well as a well-deserved if insufficient fame that transcended national boundaries. And he was besides “a wonderful and a great writer”. Or so he tells us.
What is such a fellow to do, when he discovers that he has been sentenced to a miserable, lingering death at the hands of an indiscriminate microbe, a vicious virus evidently determined to erase him, heedless of his supreme talents and value to the world? Why, write, of course. Cast aside all sense of privacy and discretion to tell the world of his appalling fate, to acquaint his audience with the depth of their loss. After all, why risk “leaving testimony in the hands or mouths of others”, particularly when “I have no shyness now”? Hence, against his doctor's advice and as soon as he feels up to it, he arranges an interview with a fawning New York Times journalist, the appropriately named Jeffrey Schmalz; writes an essay...
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SOURCE: Toíbín, Colm. “A House Full of No One.” London Review of Books 19, no. 3 (6 February 1997): 3, 5-6.
[In the following review, Tóibín offers a mixed assessment of This Wild Darkness.]
Harold Brodkey died of AIDS in January 1996; Oscar Moore died in September 1996. Brodkey wrote about his illness for the New Yorker; Moore for the Guardian. Obviously, when they wrote their articles neither of them knew when they would die, but since each article is dated, it is now possible for the reader of these two books to know how long they have left, and there is a stark, urgent edge to their accounts of what it is like to live with AIDS. They mean what they are saying, and while there is a certain comfort in the fact that both of them are so brave in the face of illness and death, and so determined to carry on writing, the idea that they are dead now makes these books sad and frightening when you put them down, but intriguing and fascinating as you join the authors in letting details and memories and wry observations draw your attention away from what must inevitably come.
[In This Wild Darkness], Brodkey's voice is grave and grandiose, as befits the author of The Runaway Soul. His vanity about his work and his looks (‘Do you know the myth of my irresistibility?’) is on an Old Testament scale. He is capable of the most extraordinary sentences....
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SOURCE: Cahill, Christopher. Review of This Wild Darkness. America 177, no. 6 (13 September 1997): 35-37.
[In the following mixed review, Cahill asserts that This Wild Darkness “is less difficult than Brodkey's other works, and though it is not his best book it is his most approachable.”]
We won't have Harold Brodkey to kick around anymore. This he makes clear in his first posthumous book, This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death, a series of brilliant, inane, self-absorbed, self-reflective essays and ramblings first published in The New Yorker as he died from complications due to AIDS. Included in the jumble are assorted theories, ranging from love (“My measure of it is that I should have died to spare her”) to the Midwestern origins of the yellow brick road.
During their serial appearances, these writings, now shorn of their more corrosively personal bits of gossip and opinion, had the fascination of a spectacle: an infamous if not famous writer, his reputation a matter of ongoing dispute in the New York literary world, dying shamelessly in public, determined to tell the truth about his enemies and even, perhaps, about himself. In the present volume, this particular effect is somewhat dispersed, and though the haphazard nature of much of these musings is emphasized by the finality of their appearance in book form, the material seems in general more...
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SOURCE: McAlpin, Heller. “Obsession.” Los Angeles Times Book Review n.s. (19 October 1997): 14.
[In the following review, McAlpin views the stories in The World Is the Home of Love and Death as uneven and a disappointing continuation of Brodkey's earlier work.]
Shortly before his death from AIDS in January 1996, Harold Brodkey wrote in his memoir, This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death, that “I don't expect to be understood. I like what I've written, the stories and two novels. If I had to give up what I've written in order to be clear of this disease, I wouldn't do it.”
Thirty years elapsed between the publication of Brodkey's first collection of stories, First Love and Other Sorrows, in 1958 and his hefty second tome, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode in 1988. Now, posthumously, comes The World Is the Home of Love and Death, Brodkey's final volume of stories.
It is natural to hope for a summing up or coda in an author's swan song, but if it is to be found anywhere in Brodkey's oeuvre, it is in his memoir. This new collection, on the other hand, is a continuation of his life's work, his obsessive, herculean attempt to capture the complex thought processes of minds both in moments of action and in reflections on those moments decades later. To accomplish this, Brodkey interlards multiple perspectives with quick...
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SOURCE: Curran, Ronald T. Review of This Wild Darkness. World Literature Today 72, no. 1 (winter 1998): 145-46.
[In the following review, Curran considers Brodkey's unflinching and unsentimental exploration of his struggle with AIDS in This Wild Darkness.]
“Being ill like this combines shock—this time I will die—with a pain and agony that are unfamiliar, that wrench me out of myself. It is like visiting one's funeral, like visiting loss in its purest and most monumental form, this wild darkness, which is not only unknown but which one cannot enter as oneself. No one belongs entirely to nature, to time: identity was a game. … At times I cannot entirely believe I ever was alive, that I ever was another self, and wrote and loved or failed to love. I do not really understand this erasure. … But this inability to have an identity in the face of death—I don't believe I ever saw this written down in all the death scenes I have read or in all the descriptions of old age.” [This Wild Darkness] is how Harold Brodkey ends his narrative about his dying of AIDS. His death sentence does not bother him, because he has “had little trouble living with the death-warrant aspect of life until now.” Statements like these create a uniquely dark perspective in Brodkey's story. Facing the terminality of AIDS, he avoids sentimentality as well as conventional notions of heroism or moments of...
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Dolan, D. J. “Twilight of the Idol.” Nation 262, no. 12 (25 March 1996): 35-6.
Comments on Brodkey's place in contemporary literature and offers personal reminiscences of the author's friendship with Brodkey.
Mannes-Abbott, Guy. Review of Profane Friendship, by Harold Brodkey. New Statesman & Society 7, no. 297 (8 April 1994): 37-8.
Positive review of Profane Friendship.
Mano, D. Keith. “Harold Brodkey: The First Rave.” Esquire 87, no. 518 (January 1977): 14-15.
Explores Brodkey's narrative and poetic style.
Additional coverage of Brodkey's life and career is contained in the following sources published by the Gale Group: Contemporary Authors, Vols. 111, 151; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 71; Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 56; Contemporary Novelists, Ed. 7; Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 130; and Literature Resource Center.
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