Joseph McElroy

Joseph McElroy is one of my favorite all time writers.

photo by Scott Bryan Wilson
Hardly anybody reads him.  Those who do are in a group probably not even large enough to be termed a "cult".  If you click on his name above, it'll take you to a thread I started over in LibraryThing on the author.  A very short thread, turned out to be, but with some great links to the rare and excellent articles that have been written about him.  There just isn't very much interest in his novels for some strange reason -- stellar and innovative for the past half century though they are -- and that's a shame.  In fact, not even his most popular novel has even seventy-five owners in LibraryThing.  Read just one of his books, and try telling me with a straight face, if you can, that he's not as good if not better than John Barth, Tom Pynchon, Robert Coover, or William Gaddis.  If you can tell me that, then you're obviously lying.  So, pick from one of his books below, order it (or, good luck finding it even secondhand at your favorite indie bookstore, but I won't fault you for trying) and get reading him, Joseph McElroy, pronto, because Freeque, er, DICK, says so, that's why!

1. A Smuggler's Bible (1966, a philosophical exploration/excavation through an existential labyrinth of identities)
A Smugglers Bible

2. Hind's Kidnap : A Pastoral on Familiar Airs (1969, hardest book of his to find, and most expensive to purchase)
3. Ancient History: A Paraphase (1971, nearly as hard to obtain as his second novel, good luck finding it!)
4. Lookout Cartridge (1974, a literary mystery thriller revolving around indie film making)
Lookout Cartridge

4. Plus (1977, science fiction; that is, philosophical SF McElroy-style, exploring the genesis of consciousness from the p.o.v. of a disembodied brain orbiting Earth. Reminiscent of Frank Herbert's Destination: Void, which featured "organic mental cores" -- brains -- powering a spacecraft.)

5. Women and Men (1986, an indefinable 1,100 page treatise on apartment dwellers in NYC; a portion of the novel was released in a limited edition in 1980, under the title, Ship Rock: A Place.)
Women and Men

6. The Letter Left to Me (1988, a father's legacy and love, left to his son in a letter -- moving, and unusually slim book, by McElroy)
The Letter Left to Me

7. Actress in the House (2003, too much drama, Mama)
Actress in the House

9. Preparations for Search (2010)

10. Night Soul and Other Stories (2011, McElroy's first collection of short stories, from Dalkey Archive)
Night Soul and Other Stories (American Literature Series)

11. Fathers Untold (novel, that last I'd heard was then titled, Cannonball, long-in-the-making, nearing completion, according to news post on his blog, 08.05.11 -- I'm really looking forward to this one.  Please, please, may it be a return, perhaps his final one, dude is in his eighties now, to the inimitable form of his best novel, Women and Men!)


  1. Perhaps with the appearance of Cannonball - to be followed by several others - interest in this curiously wonderful writer will (and it's about time)exfoliate, celebrate


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