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Joseph McElroy (Joseph Prince McElroy) Biography

(1930– ), (Joseph Prince McElroy), A Smuggler's Bible, Hind's Kidnap, Ancient History

bible smuggler american reader

American novelist, born in Brooklyn, New York, educated at Williams College and Columbia University. McElroy is one of several highly regarded contemporary American novelists such as William Gaddis, William Gass, Thomas Pynchon, and Don Delillo, who make few concessions to the ordinary reader. His first novel, A Smuggler's Bible (1966), was followed by Hind's Kidnap (1969), Ancient History (1971), Lookout Cartridge (1974), Plus (1977), Ship Rock (1980), Women and Men (1987), and The Letter Left to Me (1988). These novels illustrate McElroy's explorations into fictional form, where character, plot, setting, atmosphere, language, and narrative devices are used with a high degree of self-conscious artifice, to reflect the postmodernist fascination with information theory, with technology, and all the contemporary analogues for human memory, speech, and gesture. In A Smuggler's Bible, the title refers to a hollowed-out bible used by an American writer, David Brooke, to conceal his autobiographical manuscripts which he carries on a trans-Atlantic voyage with his English wife. The use of a smuggler's bible as a metaphor is characteristic of McElroy's preoccupations with the ambivalent relationship between narrator, story, and reader, and our compulsion for coherence in a world where incoherence and dysfunction are proposed as common conditions of experience.

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