David Plante Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to his novels, David Plante has published short stories and essays as well as two memoirs. He has been a frequent contributor of short fiction to The New Yorker magazine, including stories such as “Mr. Bonito” (1980), “Work” (1981), “The Accident” (1982), and “A House of Women” (1986). He has also served as a reviewer and features writer for The New York Times Book Review and has contributed essays and introductions to works such as Wrestling with the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men (1995), edited by Brian Bouldrey. Plante’s Difficult Women: A Memoir of Three (1983) is an account of his relationships with Sonia Orwell, George Orwell’s widow, and writers Jean Rhys and Germaine Greer. American Ghosts (2005) is a personal memoir in which Plante focuses on how writing has served to link his past to his present by helping him to come to grips with his lineage as a French Canadian in New England, his Catholic upbringing, and his sexual orientation.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although David Plante has never enjoyed a large readership, he has achieved considerable recognition among his peers, winning the acclaim of Philip Roth and other prominent contemporaries. Plante began his career with several self-consciously artistic novels, but in his later works he fashioned a spare, radically simplified style with a deceptive look of artlessness. In contrast to the minimalist writers to whose works his fiction bears a superficial resemblance, Plante uses this pared-down style as a vehicle to explore the consciousness of his protagonists, which he presents in a manner that differs sharply from the involuted style of most novels of consciousness. This is Plante’s distinctive achievement in contemporary American fiction.

Plante’s sixth novel, The Family, was nominated for the National Book Award in 1979. In 1983, while teaching writing at the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Plante received a Guggenheim grant, and in the same year he won the Prize for Artistic Merit from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. He also received an award from the British Arts Council Bursary and was named a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dukes, Thomas. “David Plante.” In Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993. Gives a brief biography of Plante, then moves to a discussion of Plante’s major works and themes.

Ferraro, Thomas J., ed. Catholic Lives, Contemporary America. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1997. Contains fourteen essays concerning Catholicism, including Plante’s “My Parents, My Religion, and My Writing.”

Gablik, Suzi. Conversations Before the End of Time. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995. This book of interviews includes one with Plante, “Creating the Space for a Miracle.”

Plante, David. “Seeing Through a Glass, Darkly: David Plante.” Interview by Paul Baumann. Commonweal 121 (August 19, 1994): 14, 21-22. In this interview, Plante discusses the significance of religious themes in his work, the influence of Ernest Hemingway, and his French Blackfoot Indian heritage to his style, his fears about the lack of redemption in masterpieces of American literature, and his belief that writing can lead one outside oneself.