A(lbert) R(amsdell) Gurney, Jr. 1930–
(Has also written under pseudonym of Pete Gurney) American dramatist, novelist, and scriptwriter.
Gurney's dramas depict the lives of America's upper-middle class and are often compared with the stories of John Cheever. Born into an affluent family in Buffalo, New York, Gurney writes satirically of his background, simultaneously defending and exposing the WASP culture. He wrote his first one-act play, Love in Buffalo (1958), while attending the Yale School of Drama and continued to compose one-act dramas throughout the 1960s. Gurney's first full-length play, Scenes from American Life (1970), consists of a series of episodes tracing Buffalo's social elite from the 1930s to the near future. Gurney achieved his first solid commercial success with The Dining Room (1981). Inspired by Thorton Wilder's The Long Christmas Dinner, Gurney's play examines upper-middle class life through a number of vignettes set within a dining room. Explaining the source of his subject matter, Gurney reveals, "I'm looking back over my shoulder with some fondness and bemusement—and sometimes amazement—at the strange ways I lived."
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)