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Brodkey, Harold

wiley love stories family

(US, 1930–96)

Born Harold Weintraub, Brodkey's troubled early life within his adoptive family in St Louis, Missouri, and his later bisexuality, formed the subject matter of his work. The Runaway Soul (1991), a massive novel, decades in the making, takes its form from the inner thoughts of its narrator Wiley, spanning the years 1930 to 1956, using flashbacks and interior monologues to capture the dynamics of memory and desire. Like Brodkey's other fiction, it is challenging, lyrical, and obsessionally detailed. His stories, many published in the New Yorker, were collected in First Love and Other Sorrows (1957) and Stories in an Almost Classical Mode (1988), often taking a child's-eye view. In the fictions posthumously published as The World is the Home of Love and Death (1998), Brodkey returned to the emotional vindictiveness of the Silenowicz family ('Car Buying’, ‘Waking’) and Wiley's Gentile girlfriend Ora, but also defiantly contemplated mortality.

J. D. Salinger, William Faulkner  JS

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