by Mark Dorset
Eric Kraft is the author of a large (and growing) work of fiction called The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy, which Newsweek called “The literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun.” It consists, so far, of eight novels:
Herb ’n’ Lornaand an interactive hypertext, or “hyperfiction,” to use his word for it: John Dos Passos Prize for Literature. He is the father of two sons, Scott and Alexis. He and his wife, Madeline, have lived in Cambridge, Arlington, Stow, Newburyport, and Boston, Massachusetts; and East Hampton, Sag Harbor, and New York, New York. E-mail will reach him at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Newsweek called him “the literary equivalent of Fred Astaire dancing: great art that looks like fun.” Time saw him as “luminously intelligent.” The New York Times found his novels “full of mystery and wonder.” And 10 days ago in Newsday, book critic Richard Gehr praised him as a “buoyant and brilliant presence” on the occasion of his eighth and most recent novel.
“In Praise of Literary Kraft”
Newsday, July 31, 2002
The narrator of Henry James’s “The Next Time,” speaking of Ralph Limbert, the writer who tries and tries to write a book that will sell but keeps writing one unsalable masterpiece after another:
Several persons admired his books—nothing was less contestable; but they appeared to have a mortal objection to acquiring them by subscription or by purchase: they begged or borrowed or stole, they delegated one of the party perhaps to commit the volumes to memory and repeat them, like the bards of old, to listening multitudes. Some ingenious theory was required at any rate to account for the inexorable limits of his circulation.Ralph Limbert, in “The Next Time”:
“We’ve sat here prating of ‘success,’ heaven help us, like chanting monks in a cloister, hugging the sweet delusion that it lies somewhere in the work itself, in the expression, as you said, of one’s subject or the intensification, as somebody else somewhere says, of one’s note. One has been going on in short as if the only thing to do were to accept the law of one’s talent, and thinking that if certain consequences didn’t follow it was only because one wasn’t logical enough. My disaster has served me right—I mean for using that ignoble word at all. It’s a mere distributor’s, a mere hawker’s word. What is ‘success’ anyhow? When a book’s right it’s right—shame to it surely if it isn’t. When it sells it sells—it brings money like potatoes or beer. If there’s dishonour one way and inconvenience the other, it certainly is comfortable, but it as certainly isn’t glorious, to have escaped them. People of delicacy don’t brag either about their probity or about their luck. Success be hanged!—I want to sell. It’s a question of life and death. I must study the way. I’ve studied too much the other way—I know the other way now, every inch of it. I must cultivate the market—it’s a science like another. I must go in for an infernal cunning. It will be very amusing, I foresee that; I shall lead a dashing life and drive a roaring trade. I haven’t been obvious—I must be obvious. I haven’t been popular—I must be popular.”
That one’s books, at least most of them, not disappear before their author does: For a “serious” writer in late-twentieth-century America, that is success aplenty.
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|Copyright © 1996, 2001 by Eric Kraft
A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogues, settings, and businesses portrayed in it are products of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this guide may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
Portions of A Topical Guide to the Complete Peter Leroy (so far) were first published by Voyager, Inc., as part of The Complete Peter Leroy (so far).
The illustration at the top of the page is an adaptation of an illustration by Stewart Rouse that first appeared on the cover of the August 1931 issue of Modern Mechanics and Inventions. The boy at the controls of the aerocycle doesn’t particularly resemble Peter Leroy—except, perhaps, for the smile.
COMPONENTS OF THE WORK
REVIEWS OF THE ENTIRE WORK