*James Purdy Society Roundtable* at American Literature Association, 24th Annual Conference, May 23-26, 2013, Boston Weston Copley Place: Session 12-H "The Candles of His Eyes: Stories of James Purdy, A Roundtable." Sat. May 24th, 3:40-5:00 PM.
Organized by the James Purdy Society
Moderator: Dennis Moore, James Purdy Society, Seattle
1. Joseph T. Skerrett, Jr., University of Massachusetts Amherst
2. Richard Canning, University of Northampton, England
3. Michael Snyder, Oklahoma City Community College
4. John Uecker, Running Sun Theatre Company, NYC
5. Jason Hale, Theatre Director, NYC
Follow by a James Purdy Society Business Meeting at 5:10-6:30 PM.
In July 2013, Norton/Liveright will publish The Complete Short Stories of James Purdy with an introduction by director John Waters, an aficionado of Purdy’s work. This constitutes a major publishing event that might be likened to the publication of the Collected Stories of another admirer, Tennessee Williams, with its introduction by Gore Vidal. Purdy’s short fiction has also been praised by the likes of Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, Paul Bowles, Katherine Anne Porter, Thornton Wilder, William Carlos Williams, Dame Edith Sitwell, and many others.
Roundtable discussants will explore Purdy’s surprising, trenchant short fiction. Best known as a novelist, Purdy is a highly original and incisive short story writer. Via this genre Purdy established his writing career. With his stark, economical early style and sometimes shocking content, Purdy struggled to publish only two short stories from the mid-1930s through the early 1950s. But with the help of his friend Osborn Andreas, a Chicago industrialist and literary critic, Purdy published the collection Don’t Call Me by My Right Name and sent it to authors, critics, actors, and others whom he intuitively felt would be sympathetic to his work. The novella 63: Dream Palace followed, its publication sponsored by Purdy’s friend and former colleague at Lawrence College, chemist Jorma Sjoblom. This strategy was fruitful. English poet Edith Sitwell offered very high praise and helped Purdy to be published in England, leading to his U.S. publication by New Directions. Harlem Renaissance patron and author Carl Van Vechten took Purdy under his wing, helping him make connections that furthered his career. Tennessee Williams became a life-long admirer of Purdy’s work and urged him to write plays, as did Lillian Hellman. Several other famous recipients such as Samuel Beckett wrote back, expressing their gratitude for this striking new work. During his lifetime, Purdy’s short stories were collected in Color of Darkness, Children is All, A Day after the Fair, The Candles of Your Eyes, and Moe’s Villa and Other Stories.
Oklahoma City Community College / AH
7777 S. May Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73159
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