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Leon Rooke 1934–

American-born Canadian short story writer, novelist, and dramatist.

In his fiction, Rooke explores the lives and emotions of ordinary people in their reactions to a world becoming more and more impersonal. He often creates disturbing moods by combining intensely realistic detail with fantasy. The comic overtones present in his work often verge on black humor.

Last One Home Sleeps in the Yellow Bed, The Broad Back of the Angel, and The Love Parlour, Rooke's earliest short story collections, are evidence of a traditional style, even though sometimes modified by experimental techniques. In his later collections, Cry Evil and Death Suite, Rooke shows an increasing tendency to utilize the self-reflective, labrinthine techniques of postmodernism.

The release of his tragicomic novel Fat Woman has sparked a wide array of critical response. Some critics, for example, conclude that Rooke has merely expanded a short story into a short novel without a corresponding development of plot or character. Others, however, praise his fine portrayal of the protagonist, saying that it exemplifies Rooke's keen awareness of the psychology of human feelings.

(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.)

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Sally Beauman