Tuesday, March 07, 2006
I know John Gardner only through his writing about writing: The Art of Fiction, On Becoming a Novelist, and On Moral Fiction. On that basis, I’d always assumed him to be a stodgy, conservative character. Imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled across a biography of him subtitled Literary Outlaw, complete with a cover photo of him sporting long hair and a leather jacket. The description on the flyleaf refers to Gardner as “a man of unrestrained energy and blatant contempt for convention,” and “arguably America’s most daring writer.” It promises details of a personal life “as chaotic as his writing was prolific.” Clearly there is much about this man and his work that I have yet to learn. I’ll have to read the biography and some of his fiction and reassess my conception of him. Any Gardner fans out there with a recommendation as to which of his novels I should try first?