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Eustace Chisholm and the Works av Purdy
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Eustace Chisholm and the Works (urspr publ 1967; utgåvan 2000)

av Purdy, James Purdy

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
237589,117 (4.29)6
No Purdy work has dazzled contemporary writers more than this haunting tale of unrequited love in an indifferent world. A seedy Depression-era boardinghouse in Chicago plays host to "a game of emotional chairs" (Guardian) in a novel initially condemned for its frank depiction of abortion, homosexuality, and life on the margins of American society.… (mer)
Medlem:PoncedeleonLibrary
Titel:Eustace Chisholm and the Works
Författare:Purdy
Andra författare:James Purdy
Info:LPC Group (2000), Paperback, 256 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek
Betyg:
Taggar:Fiction Purdy

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Eustace Chisholm and the Works av James Purdy (1967)

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Visar 5 av 5
I love James Purdy. This book features the only detailed description of a pre-Roe v. Wade abortion I think I've ever read and it is somehow disgusting, scary and really beautiful. Also features the horrifying, evil gag of a mother responding to her daughter's first period with fake shock, saying she's never heard of such a thing. ( )
  Jetztzeit | May 15, 2020 |
Un romanzo a tinte forti, che narra di un’epoca in cui alcuni amori non potevano essere resi liberi. E proprio questa mancanza di libertà si rintraccia in tutti i personaggi di un romanzo complesso, ma che ti spinge a voler salvare ognuno di loro prima che si autodistruggano. ( )
  scaredda | Aug 9, 2018 |
This seems to be the month of forgotten 20th century American novelists for me – after Maureen Howard’s brilliant Natural History, now James Purdy with his novel Eustace Chisholm & the Works. Purdy, although dead – he has born in 1914 and died in 2009 -, seems not quite as thoroughly buried as Maureen Howard – it looks like he always had a bit of a cult following and there even seems to be a bit of a revival going on, with his out-of-print works being reissued. Which would certainly be very welcome, because, judging by Eustace Chisholm, he was a very remarkable writer indeed.

Weirdly, and to my considerable surprise, Eustace Chisholm & the Works reminded a lot of William Gaddis’ first novel The Recognitions – while it is shorter and less complex and lacks the vast amounts of erudition Gaddis splattered all across his work, both novels share something that I would like to describe (for lack of a better word) as their motion. Both Eustace Chisholm and The Recognitions are ensemble novels, they do not have a single protagonist whose unfolding story the reader would follow, not even a small group like a couple or a family, but a large cast of characters none of which would stand out as central; and their stories are not presented as continuous threads weaving a tapestry, but rather as isolated, small episodes which the reader has to actively perceive as a mosaic. Unlike the novels of, say, Dos Passos, however, who so far does something quite similar, The Recognitions and Eustace Chisholm do not replace the central character with a central perspective and ordering overview but, so to speak, stay at eye level with their characters and their fragmented worldview – while there is no single central perspective, each character forms the centre of his section of the narrative, resulting in a constant shift of focus throughout the novels, a stop-and-go, jerking, stuttering motion that can induce dizziness and indeed seems to have led to seasickness in many readers both of Purdy and Gaddis.

Eustace Chisholm & the Works, though, it has to be said, is considerable more accessible than The Recognitions. Where Gaddis often seems to be hellbent on frustrating the reader, Eustace Chisholm, while still a demanding read, appears to do its best to ease readers into its vertiginous structure – indeed, almost to lure them in, only to then shock and repel them with scenes of a harrowing violence that in their sheer, unmitigated brutality have an almost physical impact on the reader. The novel does have its humorous moments, does indeed have so many of them that it reads in part like a comedy, but in the end it is a tragedy that functions as its own satyr play.

And as it should in satyr play, sexuality plays a large part in Eustace Chisholm – more specifically male homosexuality to which the book has a remarkably relaxed and matter-of-course attitude that makes it unusual even today and that might very well have been just as shocking to readers at the time of it its first publishing as the scenes of violence. (And one might also note, to bring this comparison up for the last time, that homosexuality seems to play a structurally similar role in Eustace Chisholm as Catholicism does in The Recognitions.) But if the novel is accepting of homosexuality, its characters are not necessarily so, and in fact it is precisely this which finally gives rice to tragedy out of the farce – everyone in the novel is in some way or other refusing their innermost desires, not even acknowledging even – or possibly particularly – when they get a chance to fulfill them. Turning away their chance at fulfilment and happiness, they find that the denied desires will not be gainsaid but return to haunt them in invariably self-destructive ways.

Eustace Chisholm & the Works has apparently become something of a “gay modern classic” (at least that is what the cover of my edition claims) but it is worth reading not just because of its subject matter but because it attempts (and largely succeeds) to find a literary form for an altered way of life, the lack of a narrative centre or unified thread, the permanently shifting perspective capturing both the dissolution of social ties and the increase in individual freedom in 60s’ subcultures. In other words, this is excellent stuff and James Purdy is definitely a writer I want to read more of.
2 rösta Larou | Apr 30, 2015 |
Eustace Chisholm and the Works, a 1967 novel that became a gay classic, is an especially outspoken book among the author's controversial body of work. Purdy recalls that Eustace Chisholm and the Works, named one of the Publishing Triangle's 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels of the 20th Century, outraged the New York literary establishment. Set in a rooming-house in depression-era Chicago the novel brings a marvellous game of emotional chairs. Eustace's wife moves back in while he takes up with a man. It was my introduction to the work of James Purdy and I found it more liberating, in the imaginative sense, than outrageous. Perhaps because I has read so much science fiction in my teens I was ready for a book whose story is more magical than mundane. It introduced me to a contemporary world beyond my own and a style of writing that would lead me to read many more of Purdy's novels over the ensuing years. They are the sort of books you remember fondly for their intensity and imagination and they are the ones that you consider rereading to recapture some of the verve that made you feel alive as you read them. More than breaking out of the pre-Stonewall closet, however, this novel liberated its author and readers can be grateful for that. ( )
1 rösta jwhenderson | May 4, 2011 |
this is the story of an older man's fascination with a younger man under condititions where the desire is unlikely to be fulfilled. The work is reminiscent of Mann's, Death in Venice. I read this as a boy, right after its initial publication, and found it terribly depressing at the time. I suspect I would bring a new perspective with the passage of 35 years. ( )
  AlexTheHunn | May 14, 2006 |
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Eustace Chisholm's street, with the Home for the Incurables to the south and the streetcar line to the west, extended east up to blue immense choppy Lake Michigan.
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No Purdy work has dazzled contemporary writers more than this haunting tale of unrequited love in an indifferent world. A seedy Depression-era boardinghouse in Chicago plays host to "a game of emotional chairs" (Guardian) in a novel initially condemned for its frank depiction of abortion, homosexuality, and life on the margins of American society.

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