William Kennedy American Literature Analysis
In his early attempts at writing fiction, Kennedy turned to exotic locales and set his stories in Puerto Rico, where he worked briefly as a newspaper reporter and editor; however, like William Faulkner, James Joyce, and other notable writers before him, Kennedy soon realized that his most valuable fictional subject was his own hometown—Albany. Kennedy points to his time in Puerto Rico as an important stage in his development as a writer. Being away from home gave him the distance he needed to fictionalize the New York town he had come to know so well.
With the guidance of Bellow, who taught at the University of Puerto Rico, Kennedy began writing about what he knew best, the people and places of Albany. Uninterested in sanitizing his city’s past or present, he relinquished traditional civic pride and directed his attention to Albany’s most infamous citizens. Kennedy’s cast of characters includes the legendary gangsters, politicians, and everyday drifters who inhabit Albany’s Irish Catholic North End. During his days as a reporter for Albany’s Times-Union, Kennedy had come to know the people, their history, and their ways of talking and living.
Kennedy’s earlier works, particularly Legs and Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game, reflect his training as a newspaperman and are told in a fast-paced journalistic style. These first two novels of Kennedy’s Albany cycle are action-packed exposés of the city’s...
(The entire section is 4733 words.)
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