"Stories materialize as if from dreams... He dealt in myths and universals, not daily reality... Purdy's characters never question the fallen state of the world in which they find themselves or the terrible things done to or by otherwise unexceptional individuals. The author makes no claims that they deserve better, or that problems are there to be solved. Even in the more naturalistic stories, violence and sexual compulsion, gay and straight, are part of the background music. Maliciousness is just another word for manners." -- John Leland "Purdy's short stories are often brief and propelled by dialogue rich with the quirks and profanities of the American vernacular... They also tend to convey a pervasive sense of moral compromise or emotional damage in the lives of their characters... The thick volume gathers all of Purdy's stories-fifty-six in all, including seven previously unpublished ones-for the first time." "Think of The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy as a ten-pound box of poison chocolates you keep beside your bed-fairy tales for your twisted mind that should never be described to the innocent. Randomly select a perfectly perverted Purdy story and read it before you go to sleep and savor the hilarious moral damage and beautiful decay that will certainly follow in your dreams." -- John Waters, from the introduction "A writer of the highest rank in originality, insight and power." -- Dorothy Parker "He takes up where the rest of us leave off...What constitutes in extremis for most of us is the daily bread of Mr. Purdy's world. He lets you try on desperation, and you find that it fits you better than you expected. His most bizarre freaks don't feel freakish. They feel, peculiarly, like me." -- Jonathan Franzen "He may shock and offend some partisans of the well-trodden paths in fiction, but he will surely enchant the reader who values a new expression of new feeling and experience in our very new time." -- Tennessee Williams "James Purdy's characters and situations linger in the memory." -- Langston Hughes "Purdy's gift for capturing the despair in people's lives is abundantly present in this collection of 58 stories... Purdy can sum up a character in a phrase... When he's at his best, his brief glimpses into troubled lives are painful to read...Noir fans who like nothing better than to peer into the windows of broken souls but don't need blood to enjoy the view will agree with Waters's note in his introduction that this complete volume ("here they all are at last") of "perfectly perverted" stories is a treasure." "Like Herman Melville, his closest literary ancestor, he was unremembered when he died in 2009 at age 94, one more Ishmael, with a small coterie of followers... Now Purdy has leaped out of his own shallow grave-four years after his death, we have The Complete Stories of James Purdy... In his very best stories and novels Purdy has invented a poetic dreamscape where evil and naivete collide. He is an enchanter of lost souls who delights and disturbs us with his wayward, winsome ghosts." -- Jerome Charyn "At last we have this edition of stories through which we can celebrate his talent. And through which newcomers can have the opportunity to come to know him and the fictional world that he inhabits... The greatest beauty of this collection is that from first to last-from the juvenilia (which, admittedly, gives only a glimpse of what is to come) to his final tale, the brief and wry Adeline written when he was 92-James Purdy captivates. And that is more than reason enough to celebrate this bravura edition." -- Vinton Rafe McCabe "The current and, no doubt, game-changing Complete Short Stories may not do for Purdy what Cheever's Collected Stories did for him but it will surely shake things up radically... That roiling sound you hear off in the distance is James Purdy, at long last, joining the mainstream." -- Jeff Simon "The late (1914-2009) fiction writer, whose work sharply divided critical opinion from the start, receives his due with this vast but fast-moving collection of short stories... A comprehensive overview of Purdy's themes and-yes-obsessions." "His subject matter is a cross between Nathanael West (sans Hollywood) and Flannery O'Connor (sans religion) ... As a fearless iconoclast, Purdy deserves our rediscovery. The seemingly simple yet compelling prose of The Complete Short Stories belies the haunting, slightly creepy stories that live within." -- Tom Lavoie
About the Author
James Purdy, born in 1914, is undergoing a major literary renaissance. The author of Malcolm and now The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy, he lived in New York until his death in 2009.