Peter De Vries


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born in Chicago, long resident in Connecticut, for a time an editor of Poetry, later on the staff of The New Yorker (1944–), is known for his humorous, sophisticated novels, beginning with But Who Wakes the Bugler? (1940), often about suburban Connecticut life, as in Tunnel of Love (1954), adapted with Joseph Fields as a play (1957); Comfort Me with Apples (1956); The Mackerel Plaza (1958); The Tents of Wickedness (1959), indulging not only in his exuberant punning but travestying the styles of Faulkner, Hemingway, and Fitzgerald; Through the Fields of Clover (1961), about the reunion of a fantastic New England family; and Reuben, Reuben (1964), presenting outsiders' views of an ex-urbanite community. Regardless of setting, his lively comedies of manners, though farcical and peopled with fantastic characters, have some serious concern with matters of religion or morality. His fiction also includes Let Me Count the Ways (1965), concerning a man converted to religion after paradoxically suffering a sudden sickness at Lourdes; The Vale of Laughter (1967), a sardonic comedy narrated by a stockbroker and his former philosophy professor; The Cat's Pyjamas and Witch's Milk (1968), two related novellas of pathos told comically; Mrs. Wallop (1970); Into Your Tent I'll Creep (1971), satirizing women's liberation in relation to marriage; Forever Panting (1975); The Glory of the Hummingbird (1974), about a small-town Indiana boy's success through a television quiz show; I Hear America Swinging (1976), treating the effect of the new sexual liberation on an Iowa farming community; Madder Music (1977), portraying an author who comes to think of himself as Groucho Marx; Consenting Adults, or The Duchess Will Be Furious (1980), a tale with a light, lively plot set again in Illinois; Sauce for the Goose (1981), fliply presenting the love affair of a feminist journalist; and Slouching Towards Kalamazoo (1983), a comic story of an affair between a boy and his eighth-grade teacher. The Handsome Heart (1943) and The Blood of the Lamb (1962) are more sober novels. No But I Saw the Movie (1952) and Without a Stitch in Time (1972) collect stories.

Subjects: Literature.

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