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Harold Brodkey (1930–1996)

Forfatter af Stories in an Almost Classical Mode

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Om forfatteren

Harold Brodkey was a novelist, short-story writer, and essayist. He was born in Alton, Illinois, in 1930. He graduated from Harvard University. Brodkey worked briefly as a page at NBC before a story he had shown to an editor at The New Yorker was published in 1953. His first short-story collection vis mere "First Love and Other Stories" was published in 1958. Brodkey was also a longtime staff writer at The New Yorker. He became legendary for a novel that he spent much of his adult life writing with parts being published in his 1988 short-story collection, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode before it was finally published as The Runaway Soul. In 1993, Brodkey announced to the readers of The New Yorker that he had AIDS. He chronicled his illness in a diary that was published in The New Yorker. Harold Brodkey died on January 26, 1996. (Bowker Author Biography) vis mindre

Omfatter også følgende navne: Harold Brodkey, Harold Brodkey

Image credit: Artist: Howard Coale for The New Yorker, 1995


Værker af Harold Brodkey

Stories in an Almost Classical Mode (1988) 433 eksemplarer
First Love and Other Sorrows (1998) 283 eksemplarer
The Runaway Soul (1991) 232 eksemplarer
Profane Friendship (1994) 163 eksemplarer
My Venice (1997) 43 eksemplarer
Sea Battles on Dry Land: Essays (1999) 39 eksemplarer
Women and angels (1985) 32 eksemplarer
The Abundant Dreamer (1989) 19 eksemplarer
Engel (1991) 11 eksemplarer
Primo amore e altri affanni (2022) 3 eksemplarer

Associated Works

The Best American Short Stories of the Century (2000) — Komponist — 1,549 eksemplarer
My Mistress's Sparrow Is Dead (2008) — Bidragyder — 760 eksemplarer
The Granta Book of the American Short Story (1992) — Bidragyder — 368 eksemplarer
Nothing But You: Love Stories From The New Yorker (1997) — Bidragyder — 184 eksemplarer
The Best American Essays 1995 (1995) — Bidragyder — 158 eksemplarer
The Gates of Paradise (1993) — Bidragyder — 113 eksemplarer
Neurotica: Jewish Writers on Sex (1999) — Bidragyder — 85 eksemplarer
Stories from The New Yorker, 1950 to 1960 (1958) — Bidragyder — 80 eksemplarer
Great Esquire Fiction (1983) — Bidragyder — 70 eksemplarer
Literary Traveller: An Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction (1994) — Bidragyder — 54 eksemplarer
The Literary Lover: Great Stories of Passion and Romance (1993) — Bidragyder — 50 eksemplarer
Partisan Review: The 50th Anniversary Edition (1905) — Bidragyder — 35 eksemplarer
Escape: Stories of Getting Away (2002) — Bidragyder — 26 eksemplarer
The Best American Short Stories 1978 (1978) — Bidragyder — 25 eksemplarer
Wonders: Writings and Drawings for the Child in Us All (1980) — Bidragyder — 18 eksemplarer
A Roman Collection: Stories, Poems, and Other Good Pieces (1980) — Bidragyder — 8 eksemplarer
Engelen stuifmeel uit de hemel (2002) — Bidragyder — 4 eksemplarer
Antaeus No. 21/22, Spring/Summer 1976 - Special Essay Issue (1976) — Bidragyder — 3 eksemplarer

Satte nøgleord på

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Kanonisk navn
Brodkey, Harold
Andre navne
Weintraub, Aaron Roy
Staunton, Illinois, USA
New York, New York, USA
New York, New York, USA
Venice, Italy
Harvard University (BA, 1952)
Staff Writer (1987 -)
Schwamm, Ellen (wife)
The New Yorker
Priser og hædersbevisninger
National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship
National Adademy in Rome Fellowship
Guggenheim Fellowship
Kort biografi
HAROLD BRODKEY is the author of the novel The Runaway Soul, several collections of stories: First Love and Other Sorrows, Stories in an Almost Classical Mode, and The World Is the Home of Love and Death; travel writing: My Venice; essays: Sea Battles on Dry Land, and a memoir of his experience with AIDS, This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death. His many honors include two first-place O. Henry Prizes as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Adademy in Rome, and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He lived in New York City with his wife, the novelist Ellen Schwamm, until his death in 1996.



I really have no idea why when going for a collection of short stories to read aloud with my wife the name Harold Brodkey popped into my head as the obvious answer. He must have been lurking somewhere in there for some time just waiting for his chance. Brodkey was well known in his day, the fifties through the eighties or so, for his short stories and as staff writer on The New Yorker. He kept the literary world waiting for decades for his debut novel, which when finally released in 1991 as an 800 page behemoth was met with all the critical enthusiasm of a wet fart and which has now disappeared from the public consciousness so comprehensively that on Goodreads it has all of 63 ratings and fewer than a dozen reviews of more than one line. Amazing.

This is his debut collection, containing the stories that launched his reputation and ultimately ill-fated career. The brilliance they contain lay in their close examination of the characters' inner states of mind, their thoughts and feelings and contradictory emotions. The collection is a story of two halves. The first four stories are of some length and concern Brodkey's youth in St. Louis and college years at Harvard. The final five stories are much shorter and are attempts at portraying a young woman and mother, I'm assuming modeled after Brodkey's older sister.

I enjoyed the first half much more than the second half, I must say. Brodkey had more to say in them and of course he had easy access to his own past mind to mine. He could describe his protagonist's state of inner feeling with crystal clarity. A 13 year old's insecurity and feeling of otherness is brilliantly portrayed in State of Grace and an account of a college age young man's spending a year cycling through France with a friend describes the peril that can arise from getting to know anyone too closely for too long with amusing aplomb in The Quarrel.

The second batch of stories he's trying to do the same with a literary stand in for his sister, whom he apparently thought of as shallow and incredibly vain. Sometimes it succeeds I think but for me he misses more often than he hits with these. I miss the feeling of authorial sympathy for his protagonist that the earlier stories have, and I think the length of these compared to the length of the earlier stories reflects that he didn't have as good a grasp on this character and was floundering a bit.

So then, Harold Brodkey, I hope this raising you to the forefront of my consciousness for this time has served to scratch whatever itch you planted at some past moment into my own mind. I'm sorry you've faded from fame so greatly, but hey, there's always the chance you'll get rediscovered, even for that novel to get reevaluated and declared an unjustly ignored classic. You never know.
… (mere)
lelandleslie | 4 andre anmeldelser | Feb 24, 2024 |
An audacious behemoth, a veritable leviathan of a work, certainly a book you could never recommend to anyone, doing so would be like off-loading a puppy or a plant or a reptile or a disabled child to someone, you’re palming off an incredible time sink, an excursion up to Everest in a seemingly innocuous 835 pages. You have to schedule this book in, you’re an analyst sitting down with a pipe in your mouth listening to this man bloviate about his entire history, mapping it out in excruciating detail, as you unwittingly become ingrained into his syntax, into his laws, in fact merging and moving towards an almost complete absorption by him, sinking into his panoramic contemplations, subsumed by this alien consciousness which takes page after page to become synchronised with - up until the metamorphosis culminates and all of a sudden becomes complete.

Brodkey has achieved something marvellous by being able to maintain such a precarious state of vertigo for this many pages, the edifice of his life standing like a mountain range laying for miles around, insuperable. The Runaway Soul is a book of dizziness, of arcane and archaic speech, of minute facial gestures and tautly examined motives. It is infantile, pretentious, and wholly autistic, but it is a magnificent achievement, as taxing as all taxonomies must be - by necessity.

There is a glib sentiment I’ve heard proffered in many different places, and attributed to (at least according to my hasty google search), of all people, Stephenie Meyer (that genius of prose). It’s the platitude that we live many lives by reading many books, that we achieve some kind of transcendence via a kaleidoscopic glimpse into the lives of others by the act of reading itself. The issue is that these lives, in a great deal of novels and fiction you will read at least, are hastily conjured-up, regurgitated, and essentially artificial fabrication of real lives - they can be beautiful, you can be charmed by them, you can even be disgusted by them, and if the writer is of a high enough calibre you may even be so incredulous (or perhaps generous enough) to call their portrayals realistic, making the huge gambit that they in some way manage to shore up to the infinite complexity of a single lived moment. But surely the intensity of a single life, displayed in its harrowing minutiae and triviality, trumps such shallowness? Brodkey’s book seems to pole vault across this hurdle, this giant obstacle concerning the sheer complexity of character and biography, and allows you to be consumed, thrown as you are into its quixotic quotidian reflection of mid century Midwestern existence - his answer is a howling yes, an affirmation of the achingly singular and particular, a great globule of phlegm in the face of the idea of easily-digestible 'characters'.

Brodkey’s prose is in a sense incomprehensible, his references and dialect and mental associations are nigh on inaccessible to a reader from the modern day. An alterior mind chugs and churns before you, in all of its failures and manifest (and exhibited with masochistic pleasure at every opportunity, mind you) maladaptions, in all of its interrupted flows, in its pain and paltry pleasures. Brodkey’s individuality and experience comes to the fore with a searing effect of reality - a light too bright to be looked at, an intelligence both boundless and tedious that must be contended with (that is, if you have the sheer stamina to follow his densely-thicketed trains of thought).

I mean, do you want to talk about one of the great auteurs of the 20th century? My God. I don’t know if I loved it, but I stand before it amazed, it is an exercise of architectonics applied to the puzzle of fiction, an infinite labyrinthine jungle gym of a confessional. Don’t read it, it’s that good. I don’t know if I truly understood it all, maybe that by itself is of some minor significance, and maybe it is a positive that I didn’t. It spurns me to write and to speak of it in glowing terms, and to gush over it when speaking to friends, so that's probably a good sign that I thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I'm a little too close to this ordeal to say that I cherished it or would ever wish it on another. Taken as a whole, it’s too much - but then again, maybe it’s just enough.

(It’s funny to note that I never found an album to listen to in conjunction with this book, something that rarely ever happens. Brodkey is his own idiosyncratic composition, and no amount of John Fahey or Toumani Diabaté was able to change that fact. Oh yeah, and I’ve been reading this since fucking January/February (I’m writing this in October) - the eight month slog that this tome took out of me should hopefully be indicative of its brutally solipsistic density. Gravity's Rainbow and Moby Dick are a drop in Runaway Soul's ocean when it comes to the dedication and discipline required to get to its last page. Good luck!!)
… (mere)
theoaustin | Dec 26, 2023 |
Questo buio feroce è un libro pieno di sapori contrastanti: possiamo trovarci l'amore e la morte, il dolore e la felicità, la verità e la fame di bugie, la stanchezza e la voglia di fare, la forza e il disfacimento.

Dimenticate le frasi strappalacrime sull'ingiustizia di beccarsi una malattia che nel 1993 non lasciava scampo (l'AIDS): Harold Brodkey era un giornalista e ha voluto lasciarci una testimonianza del suo avvicinarsi alla morte a causa di una malattia in odore di infamia e depravazione e a tratti sfoggia un'ironia che difficilmente non vi strapperà un sorriso.

Il guaio della morte-sulla-soglia-di-casa è che sta succedendo proprio a te. E anche, che non sei più l'eroe della tua storia, e nemmeno il narratore.

Nel corso del libro, Brodkey non manca di sottolineare i suoi momenti di felicità, basati su quello strano e documentato fenomeno secondo il quale si vive più intensamente quando le nostre aspettative di vita sono drasticamente – e certamente – ridimensionate. Tuttavia, neanche prova mai a indorarsi la pillola: sa che dovrà morire, che sarà solo questione di – poco – tempo. A volte va bene, a volte è terribile; a volte gli sembra di aver vissuto una vita piena e soddisfacente, a volte gli appare tutto così vano.

È un ritratto molto umano quello che Brodkey fa di se stesso: senza certezze, senza Dio (che, anche se c'è, è lontano), senza pace (perché la pace nel nostro mondo non è mai esistita). Solo un uomo sull'orlo di questo melodrammatico pozzo, che rappresenta la perdita nella sua forma più pura e più monumentale, questo buio feroce, che oltre a essere sconosciuto, è un buio in cui non puoi entrare come te stesso.

Ma Questo buio feroce non si limita a essere una cronaca di una morte annunciata: è anche uno sguardo lucido sulla sua contemporaneità, su una società così presa dai suoi costrutti da aver smarrito la sua umanità.

La vita borghese è animata da una forte tendenza a mentire, a nascondere le cose. […] Preferisco essere franco sull'AIDS e farmi beffe dell'umiliazione pubblica, piuttosto che provare la reale umiliazione. Preferisco impegnarmi per far sì che questa morte assomigli il più possibile a qualsiasi altra fine.

La gentilezza dice sempre molto sul significato dell'universo, ma forse è una qualità che conta e riluce di più applicata a questa malattia che a qualsiasi altra in questo momento. Forse perché questa malattia si prende beffe più pesantemente di ogni altra di tutto ciò che uno era prima – mentalmente e fisicamente, socialmente ed eroticamente, emotivamente e politicamente.

E davvero non so so cos'altro aggiungere.
… (mere)
lasiepedimore | Sep 13, 2023 |

Annetje - In this Harold Brodkey story, a dangerous woman, a destructive woman, a woman with alluring, magnetic attraction to drive men crazy.

An entire collection of unforgettable Harold Brodkey short stories. For me, one story in particular really struck home; a story haunting, tenderly rendered and so telling of the times (first published in 1968). Here it is:

Upper East Side Quartet: Our first-person narrator, Avram Olensky, is in his uptown Manhattan apartment on the phone with Annetje, a friend who has been suffering the aftereffects of LSD for the past week. She called Avram in desperation since she’s completely wiped out and urgently needs his help. Annetje’s request puts Avram in a quandary: at the moment, he has a man and woman sitting in his living room - long-time friend Louise and her new German husband, Ulrich von Kunnel. As in classical music with two violins, viola and cello forming a string quartet, these four well-to-do, well-educated, highly cultured men and women form the story’s quartet of characters - exactly the right number for tight dramatic complexity.

Femme Fatale: Annetje’s voice over the phone is fascinating, foreign and moving. “Annetje frightened him, her prettiness was so extreme – white-blonde hair, enormous seaside-gray eyes – her irrational, storm-tossed, passionate conversation so unnerving.” With her wild, irresistible, totally electric energy and alluring attractiveness, a dangerous woman, a destructive woman, a woman to drive men crazy. Recall how Raymond Carver noted a little menace in a short story is good for the circulation. Harold Brodkey knew his storytelling - Annetje moves the fictional circulation triple time.

Multiple Marriages: Annetje’s first husband from Chicago was terribly rich and addicted to flying tiny airplanes; her second husband a professional deep-sea diver and scuba expert, her third husband, current spouse John Herbert Thompson, a handsome six-foot-five-inch novelist and movie writer, a great F. Scott Fitzgerald-like drinker who makes an enormous salary, a husband who, after Annetje demanded he get the hell out, vacated the premises. Oh, Annetje, I love you honey – not only are you a dangerous woman attractive to adventurous men seeking the ultimate danger but also a woman quick to tell those foolish men all to go to hell.

Powerful Hallucinogenic: Having dropped LSD, Annetje declares how the walls of her apartment are behaving strangely, the windows have a very evil look and she should throw herself out of one. Alarmed, musing how “in New York to be without compassion was to become an outcast,” Avram resolves to dash to Annetje’s apartment and return with her to his. He also wishes to convince Louise and Ulrich to wait for his return. As Avram well knows, his request is a stretch - prime financier of his literary magazine and one-time lover, Louise is wealthy, Republican, a heavy drinker and accustomed to always getting her own way, which certainly means not having her host walk out on her only to return with another woman.

Rescue: Successful in persuading Louise and Ulrich to stay, Avram darts down his brownstone steps with quick boyishness. “The street was empty of walkers, lined with parked cars, each dotted with moisture from the half fog, half drizzle that filled the air with tiny drops of light-blurring water – the air had an acrid edge of pollution.” When reading Harold Brodkey, plot and character are only half the fun; the other half is taking our time to linger, even luxuriate, in the glow of the author’s well-honed, elegant, graceful prose.

Insults: Avram arrives at Annetje’s apartment; Ammeje is disheveled, confused, defensive, but after much discussion, Annetje finally agrees to leave and return to meet Louise and Ulrich. Along the way, Annetje asks Avram if his two friends will understand she is mad. Avram assures her they are both open-minded and she will be fine. (On some level Avram knows this is far from true; however, he wishes to help her but doesn’t want to be alone with dangerous, destructive Annetje). Upon entering his apartment arm in arm with Annetje, right off, Louise states flat out how she doesn’t like drugs. And this is only the beginning - Louise goes on the attack, zipping and zapping off insults, zip, zap, zip, zap, zip, zap. Ouch! That’s one sharp tongue you have there, lady!

Race and Politics: When Annetje reveals Avram is Jewish the conversation takes a decidedly racial and political turn, with comparisons of the American war in Vietnam to Ulrich’s Germany and the mindset of the Nazis. Not surprising since, with emotions aflame and insults having been exchanged, the first mention of race, politics, or religion usually turns a heated conversation into an extremely ugly, name-calling argument, an argument overflowing with emotional violence and the ever-present prospect of reaching an outbreak of physical violence.

Memory: At one point Annetje tells how one day when she was a little girl in Holland during the war she and her friends were walking by a road and the German planes came and shot at them. Why, she wonders. Then she answers her own question: it was because for the Germans we little girls didn’t matter. Later on, Ulrich, who likewise experienced horrors as a German child once the Russians invaded says, “I think we would all be happier without memories. I try to have no memories.” This exchange is vintage Harold Brodkey, a writer highly attuned to the profound influence of memories, particularly childhood memories.

Joint Departure: So much for the comfort of company. Annetje asks to leave and Avram is more than happy to escort her home. “Outside, the air was still hung with floating drops, visible beads of moisture, faintly pewter-colored with captured light, and very beautiful, Avram thought. The sidewalk was quite wet and held the dim, damp, shapeless reflections of lights in windows and over doorways and of streetlights. (Couldn’t resist another offering of Harold Brodkey language).

Survivor: Reaching her apartment, Avram apologizes to Annetje, about how both Louise and Ulrich were incredibly rude to her. Annetje replies that he is not to worry, that she can be left alone now, that she will finally be able to sleep. Avran asks if she will be careful and not use any more tranquilizers or do anything else to harm herself. Annetje assures him she will simply go to sleep for she is the kind who survives.

Resolve: Avram returns to his apartment. Does the story close with a bit of irony or even humor? I will leave for each reader to judge as we read: “He made up his mind; I will bawl out Louise and Ulrich, I will say, “A little kindness toward people we differ from will improve the world. We mustn’t shut all the doors.” Louise will have all the money in the room, and I will have all the heart and niceness. He smiled, he surrendered. He turned then and broke into an easy, boyish run up the avenue. He ran with resigned self-approval.”

Harold Brodkey - author of fiction where prose meets poetry

Coda: This short story, "Bookkeeping" is also collected in "Stories in an Almost Classical Mode" published by Vintage in 1989.
… (mere)
Glenn_Russell | 1 anden anmeldelse | Nov 13, 2018 |



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