February 3, 2011

John Gardner: Literary Outlaw **

** John Gardner: Literary Outlaw, Barry Silesky, 2004

I've taken to reading biographies on the elliptical, and it's worked out fairly well. I picked up this bio years ago because of one Gardner book, Grendel. As I mentioned in my review of The Art of Fiction, Grendel is a short little book with a very large punch. Beyond that, all I've read of Gardner are his two books on the writing life, On Becoming a Novelist, and the writing craft, The Art of Fiction, both very worthy books that any aspring or accomplished writer should own.

The only other bit of his fiction I've attempted to read is Nickel Mountain, but even after repeated attempts I couldn't get past the first few chapters.

I learned from this bio by Silesky that Gardner was talented, brilliant, witty, gregarious, and relentlessly driven to write. Also that he was a womanizing, arrogant, bombastic lush. He seemed like someone who would be fun to be with at a party, but sheer hell to live with or depend on for anything besides writing.

The bio would be interesting for anyone interested in the man and his work, but I would recommend you just pick up a copy of Grendel and read it instead. Anybody need a copy of a John Gardner biography?

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