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William Kotzwinkle Biography

(1939– ), Fata Morgana, Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman, The Hot Jazz Trio

American novelist and short-story writer, born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, educated at Penn State University. Kotzwinkle is a prolific writer, dividing his attention equally between books for adults and for children. His transparent style and his stress on the primacy of illusion derive from his Buddhist conception of the universe, which also gives his novels their curious combination of playfulness and seriousness. Fata Morgana (1977), Herr Nightingale and the Satin Woman (1978), and The Hot Jazz Trio (1989) are all fantasy novels, underpinned by close attention to archetypal configurations. Jack in the Box (1980) and Queen of Swords (1984) satirize the clash between libido and social convention. E. T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982), Superman III (1983), and E. T.: The Book of the Green Planet (1985) stem from his affiliation to the world of film, whose dislocation from reality he chillingly presents in The Exile (1987). The contrast between his most sombre book, Swimmer in the Secret Sea (1975), and the slapstick comedy of The Fan Man (1974) and The Midnight Examiner (1989), vividly illustrates the spread of his abilities. Though he has a reputation of being a cult novelist, he is too detached to cater to the interests of a specific minority. In terms of tone and vision, the best of his work stands comparison with that of Kurt Vonnegut and Richard Brautigan.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Knole Kent to Mary Lavin Biography