Stanley Elkin (Stanley Lawrence Elkin) Biography
(1930–1995), (Stanley Lawrence Elkin), Boswell, Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers, A Bad Man
American novelist and short-story writer, born in Brooklyn, New York City, educated at the University of Illinois. Elkin has been described as a ‘major Jewish-American post- modernist’ although his reputation has been somewhat eclipsed by other Jewish writers such as Saul Bellow, Bernard Malamud, and Philip Roth. His first novel, Boswell (1964), revealed his striking talent for absurdist black humour and comic monologue, talents further developed in his first collection of short stories, Criers and Kibitzers, Kibitzers and Criers (1966), and in his second novel, A Bad Man (1967), where the humour is given a metaphysical edge in Elkin's meditations on the paradox of good and evil. The Dick Gibson Show (1971) received critical acclaim, while Searches and Seizures (1973; UK title Eligible Men, 1974) brought Elkin a wider audience through the cinematic adaptation of the first novella in the collection (‘The Bailbondsman’), filmed as Alex and the Gipsy. Further novels include The Franchiser (1976), George Mills (1982), The Magic Kingdom (1984), The Rabbi of Lud (1987), and the MacGuffin (1991). The Living End (1979) contains three long stories, satirizing religion, and is notable for both its blasphemy and its vulgarity. Elkin took up an academic post in 1960 at Washington University in St Louis, becoming King Professor of Modern Letters in 1983, and has gained many academic awards.