Harold Brodkey is best known as a short story writer. He produced several well received collections of stories but, starting in the late seventies, there were rumours of a great novel, sorry, a Great Novel. It was to be called Party of Animals, it was to be long and, did I mention that it was to be great? It was sold and resold to various publishers. Finally a book appeared, called The Runaway Soul. It wasn’t Party of Animals and it wasn’t great. In fact, critics slaughtered it. The book went out of print and Brodkey’s reputation took a nosedive and he never recovered from it.
Harold Brodkey was born Aaron Weintraub in Alton, Illinois, in 1930 (he never revealed the exact date). Like Wiley Silenowicz in The Runaway Soul, he was adopted and grew up just outside Saint Louis. He went to Harvard and then started writing stories, which were well received. After the publication of The Runaway Soul, his reputation declined dramatically. He contracted AIDS and died in 1996.
Harold Brodkey: Yesterday’s Genius
1957 First Love and Other Sorrows
1985 Women and Angels
1986 A Poem about Testimony and Argument
1988 Stories in an Almost Classical Mode
1989 The Abundant Dreamer
1991 The Runaway Soul
1994 Profane Friendship
1996 This Wild Darkness: The Story of My Death
1997 The World is the Home of Love and Death
1998 My Venice
1999 Sea Battles on Dry Land: Essays