Fans of James Purdy don’t read his books for the fun of it, but rather for the heart- breaking emotion that lingers. His work has been criticized as obscene, gruesomely savage, and even weird. Others have hailed Purdy for a darkly-comedic style so original that it defies classification.
A native of Fremont, Ohio, Purdy’s fiction continues to be more highly-respected in Europe than in the U.S. Since he began writing in the 1940s, Purdy has composed countless poems, short stories, and has written 19 novels, including the 1959 underground classic, Malcolm. Much of his fiction examines the abuse and exploitation of young rural Americans trying to escape the misery of destructive family origins. Reviewers of his fiction have said that, despite his somber subject matter, Purdy attracts readers through a flat, ironic prose that creates black comedy.