August 21, 1930 |
New York City, United States
|Notable works||Lookout Cartridge,
Women and Men
Joseph McElroy was born on August 21, 1930, in Brooklyn, New York, the only child of Joseph Prince and Louise (née Lawrence) McElroy. McElroy's father was a scholarship student to Harvard University who majored in chemistry, but later worked as a stockbroker. He died when McElroy was 15 years old.
McElroy grew up in Brooklyn Heights. He graduated from Poly Prep Country Day School in 1947 and was given an Alumni Distinguished Achievement Award in 2007 from the school's Board of Governors. He attended Williams College, from where he earned a Bachelor's degree in 1951. The following year, he earned a Masters degree from Columbia University. He served in the Coast Guard from 1952–54, and then returned to Columbia to complete his Ph.D. in 1961.
In 1961, McElroy married Joan Leftwich, of London, in London. She is the daughter of Yiddish-speaking Orthodox Jews. Her father, Joseph Leftwich, was a translator and anthologizer of Yiddish poetry. The McElroys' only child, a daughter Hanna, was born in 1967. McElroy assisted with the birth.
McElroy's writing is often grouped with that of William Gaddis and Thomas Pynchon, due to the encyclopedic quality of his novels, particularly the 1,192 pages of Women and Men (1987). His short fiction was first published in literary journals. Echoes of McElroy's work can be found in that of Don DeLillo and David Foster Wallace. McElroy's work often reflects a preoccupation with how science functions in American society; Exponential, a collection of essays published in Italy in 2003, collects science and technology journalism written primarily in the 1970s and 1980s for the New York Review of Books.
Honors and awards
- John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, Fiction, 1976
- American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, 1977
- Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship
- Ingram Merrill Foundation Fellowship, twice
- National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, twice
- A Smuggler's Bible, Harcourt Brace, 368 pages, 1966. ISBN 978-0233959764
- Hind's Kidnap: A Pastoral on Familiar Airs, Harper and Row, 534 pages, 1969. ISBN 978-0893661052
- Ancient History: A Paraphase, Knopf, 307 pages, 1971. ISBN 978-0394469256
- Lookout Cartridge, Knopf, 531 pages, 1974. ISBN 978-0394493756
- Plus, Knopf, 215 pages, 1977. ISBN 978-0394407944
- Women and Men, Knopf, 1192 pages, 1987. ISBN 978-0394503448
- The Letter Left to Me, Knopf, 151 pages, 1988. ISBN 978-0394571966
- Actress in the House, Overlook, 432 pages, 2003. ISBN 978-1585673506
- Cannonball, Dzanc Books, 312 pages, 2013. ISBN 978-1938604218
- Ship Rock: A Place, William B. Ewert, Concord, New Hampshire, limited edition, 42 pages, 1980
- republished as a chapter in Women and Men, 1987
- Preparations for Search 1984
- revised and printed as a chapbook, by Small Anchor Press, 2010
- Night Soul and Other Stories, Dalkey Archive Press, 304 pages, 2011. ISBN 978-1564786029
- Exponential (2003; published in Italy)
"Neural Neighborhoods and Other Concrete Abstracts,"
- Colby, Vineta (ed). World Authors, 1975-1980
- LeClair, Tom. "An Interview with Joseph McElroy", Anything Can Happen, Tom LeClair and Larry McCaffery (eds.), 1983.
- Morrow, Bradford. "An Interview", Conjunctions 10 (1987).
Book chapters on McElroy
- LeClair, Tom (1989), The Art of Excess: Mastery in Contemporary American Fiction, University of Illinois Press, pp. 131–174, chapter six, ISBN 978-0252061028.
- McHale, Brian (1993), Constructing Postmodernism, Taylor & Francis, pp. 188–206, chapter eight, ISBN 978-0415060134.
- Tabbi, Joseph (1996), Postmodern Sublime: Technology and American Writing from Mailer to Cyberpunk, Cornell University Press, pp. 154–168, chapter six, ISBN 978-0801483837.
- Tanner, Tony (1987), Scenes of nature, signs of men, Cambridge University Press, pp. 206–237, chapter 11, ISBN 978-0521311557.
- Ziegler, Heide, ed. (1988), Facing Texts: Encounters Between Contemporary Writers and Critics, Duke University Press, pp. 263–272, ISBN 978-0822308188, detailed character analysis.
Anthologies of McElroy criticism
- "Table of Contents". The Review of Contemporary Fiction. X (1). 1990.
- "Festschrift". Electronic Book Review. 2004.
- "Festschrift". Golden Handcuffs Review. 1 (14). 2011.
- All are mentioned as influences in "Neural Neighborhoods" and/or the Tom LeClair interview
- Burn, Stephen J. (ed) Conversations with David Foster Wallace, see live chat with Wallace on Infinite Jest
- Full name as used on his doctoral thesis The Poetry of Henry King, Columbia University, 1961.
- Andrew Essex (2003-06-03). "The Complications - Page 1 - Books - New York". Village Voice. Retrieved 2012-10-07.
- "Poly Prep Country Day School ~ Five Alumni Receive Distinguished Achievement Awards". Polyprep.org. 2007-04-15. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- World Authors 1975-1980
- one of his translations was used by McElroy in A Smuggler's Bible from an anthology Leftwich dedicated to Joan
- Tom LeClair interview
- "Joseph McElroy: Official Author Website". Exponential. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
- "A Little on Novel-Writing", Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Prose 6 (1981)
- Mailer, Norman, Pontifications (1982).
- Should Writing Hurt?
- "Neural Neighborhoods and Other Concrete Abstracts", TriQuarterly 34 (Fall 1975), pp201-2.
- "All Fellows - John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation". Gf.org. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- "American Academy of Arts and Letters - Award Winners". Artsandletters.org. Retrieved 2012-09-18.
- Official website
- The Literary Encyclopedia
- A Joseph McElroy Festschrift (electronic book review)
- Joseph McElroy resources on the Web
- "The Courage of Joseph McElroy" (essay)
- Radio interviews with Michael Silverblatt for Bookworm
- Conversation with author Joshua Cohen for a Triple Canopy podcast\