Eustace Chisholm and the Works, by James Purdy
James Purdy was born in Ohio in 1923. His parents separated when he was quite young, and as a result he attended schools in a goodly number of Ohio towns while being shuttled back and forth among relatives. These Ohio towns would later become the terrain of many of his short stories and of a novel, The Nephew. Not surprisingly, in all of his books Purdy has written about boys without fathers: Malcolm, in Malcolm, Cliff in The Nephew, Fenton Riddleway in the best of all his books, 63: Dream Palace, Cabot Wright in Cabot Wright Begins, and in the book at hand, Amos Ratcliffe and Daniel Haws.
Purdy attended the University of Chicago and the University of Puebla in Mexico and later did graduate work at Chicago and at the University of Madrid. He then taught for four years at Lawrence College in Wisconsin before leaving in 1953 to write full-time. In 1956, angered by his inability to find an American publisher for his work, Purdy had some of his stories, most notably the novella 63: Dream Palace, privately printed. British reviewers and critics were so enthusiastic—Purdy has generally done better with critics and with fellow writers than with the common reader—that a British edition was quickly issued, and an American one, from an embarrassed New Directions, which had earlier rejected the manuscript, followed in 1957.
About the Author