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William J. Kennedy

 

William J. Kennedy

For other people named William Kennedy, see William Kennedy (disambiguation).

William Kennedy
Born William Joseph Kennedy
(1928-01-16) January 16, 1928 (age 86)
Albany, New York, U.S.
Occupation Author, journalist, historian
Language English
Nationality American
Alma mater Siena College
Period 1955 – present
Genres Fiction, History, Supernatural
Notable work(s) Legs, Billy Phelan's Greatest Game, Ironweed
Notable award(s) Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (1984), Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award (2001)
Spouse(s) Ana Segarra (m. 1957)
Children 3

William Joseph Kennedy (born January 16, 1928) is an American writer and journalist born and raised in Albany, New York to William J. Kennedy and to Mary E. McDonald. Kennedy was raised a Catholic. Many of his novels feature the interaction of members of the fictional Irish-American Phelan family, and make use of incidents of Albany's history and the supernatural. Kennedy's works include The Ink Truck (1969), Legs (1975), Billy Phelan's Greatest Game (1978), Ironweed (1983, winner of 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction; film, 1987), and Roscoe (2002). In 2011, he published Changó's Beads and Two-Tone Shoes, which one reviewer called, a book "written with such brio and encompassing humanity that it may well deserve to be called the best of the bunch."[1]

He is a graduate of Siena College in Loudonville, New York and currently resides at Averill Park, a hamlet about 16 miles east of Albany. After serving in the Army, Kennedy lived in Puerto Rico where he met his mentor, Saul Bellow, who encouraged him to write novels. While living in San Juan, he befriended journalist/author Hunter S. Thompson, a friendship that continued throughout their careers. Kennedy, who had been eager to leave Albany, returned to his hometown and worked for the Albany Times Union as an investigative journalist writing stories exposing activities of the O'Connell political machine. His use of Albany as the setting for eight of his novels was described in 2011 by book critic Jonathan Yardley as painting "a portrait of a single city perhaps unique in American fiction."[2]

In 2001, Kennedy received the Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award. The Helmerich Award is presented annually by the Tulsa Library Trust.

He has written a non-fictional account of Albany titled O Albany!.

Bibliography

Fiction

The Albany Cycle

  • Legs. New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan, 1975.
  • Billy Phelan's Greatest Game. New York: Viking Press, 1978.
  • Ironweed. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
  • Quinn's Book. New York: Viking Press, 1988.
  • Very Old Bones. New York: Viking Press, 1992.
  • The Flaming Corsage. New York: Viking Press, 1996.
  • Roscoe. New York: Viking Press, 2002.
  • Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes. New York: Viking Adult, 2012.[3]

Nonfiction

  • O Albany!: Improbable City of Political Wizards, Fearless Ethnics, Spectacular Aristocrats, Splendid Nobodies, and Underrated Scoundrels. New York: Viking Press, 1983.
  • The Making of Ironweed. New York: Viking Penguin, 1988.
  • Riding the Yellow Trolley Car. New York: Viking Press, 1993.

Screenplays

Plays

  • Grand View. Premiered at Capital Repertory Theatre, Albany, NY, 1996.
  • In the System. HumaniTech* Short Play Project Premiere, University at Albany, March 2003.

Children's books

  • Charlie Malarkey and the Belly Button Machine (co-authored with Brendan Kennedy). New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1986.
  • Charlie Malarkey and the Singing Moose (co-authored with Brendan Kennedy). New York: Viking Children's Books, 1994.

Criticism

  • Flanagan, Thomas. O Albany!. New York Review of Books. April 25, 2002
  • Giamo, Benedict F. The Homeless of Ironweed: Blossoms on the Crag. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1997.
  • Gillespie, Michael Patrick. Reading William Kennedy. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
  • Lynch, Vivian Valvano. Portraits of Artists: Warriors in the Novels of William Kennedy. Bethesda: International Scholars Publications, 1999.
  • Mallon, Thomas. William Kennedy's Greatest Game. The Atlantic Monthly. February 2002.
  • Seshachari, Neila C. Courtesans, Stars, Wives, $ Vixens: The Many Faces of Female Power in Kennedy's Novels, AWP Conference, Albany, NY. April 17, 1999.
  • Marowski, Daniel G. and Matur, Roger, editors. "William Kennedy." Contemporary Literary Criticism, Vol. 53, Detroit: Gale Research, 1989, pp. 189–201.
  • Michener, Christian. From Then into Now: William Kennedy's Albany Novels. University of Scranton Press, 1998.
  • Reilly, Edward C. Twayne's United States Authors Series: William Kennedy. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1991.
  • Van Dover, J. K. Understanding William Kennedy. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 1991.
  • Seshachari, Neila C., editor. Conversations with William Kennedy. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1997.

See also

References

External links

  • Finding Aid for the Papers of William Kennedy,
  • Audio recording of William Kennedy reading from unpublished works at the Key West Literary Seminar, 2009
  • Public Television Interview with William Kennedy
  • The Bat Segundo Show
  • University at Albany Libraries.
  • University at Albany.

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