The Strange, Unsettling Fiction of James Purdy

A couple of years ago, I mentioned James Purdy in passing, in an essay I was writing for a literary journal. When the proofs came back to me, I found that the copy editor had suggested that I delete Purdy’s name since, in her estimation, few of the journal’s readers were likely to be familiar with his work. I declined the suggestion but remain startled by its implication—that Purdy, always a proud outsider, had fallen so completely off the literary map that he was essentially...

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