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literature

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Peck, Dale (b. 1967)  
 
page: 1  2  

The boy flourishes on the farm, with its daily chores and routines, and discovers for the first time familial love and respect. But when his mother unexpectedly demands his return to Long Island, the boy is forced to choose between his brutal family and the loving relationship he has established with his uncle and aunt, a decision that determines his future and the legacy he will eventually pass on to his own son.

In an interview Peck stated that he believed this was a "defining time" in his father's life. "It wasn't so much when he became who he was," Peck explained, but rather "when he felt a lot of choices got closed off. There were a lot of people my father might have been in that year, and it was the last time in his life that would ever be the case."

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In addition to his novels, Peck has written a number of short stories. His "The Law of Diminishing Returns" appeared in Granta (Spring 1999), and several of his shorter fictions have been published in Conjunctions, including "Thirteen Ecstasies of the Soul" (Spring 1998), "Fever Dreams: A Geography of the Mind" (Spring 2000), and "Fruit Salad" (Spring 2001). The stories "Making Book" and "Bliss" were published in Zoetrope (Spring 1999); "Bliss" won an O. Henry Award and was reprinted in Prize Stories 2001: The O. Henry Awards (2001).

Peck's article "Making History" appeared in Over the Rainbow: Lesbian and Gay Politics in America Since Stonewall (1995), edited by David Deitcher; and he wrote the "Foreword" to Queer 13: Lesbian and Gay Writers Recall Seventh Grade (1998), edited by Clifford Chase.

Peck is also an occasional literary critic, and his reviews have appeared in such publications as Artforum, The London Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, The New York Times, Out, and The Village Voice.

In 2002, Peck created what he has referred to as a "ruckus in the publishing world," due to an annihilating review he wrote in the July 1 issue of The New Republic of a book by the novelist Rick Moody. In the now notorious opening line of that review Peck wrote, "Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation." Because of this and other equally eviscerating reviews, Peck has become the self-described "most hated man in literature."

Peck republished the Moody review, along with 11 others, in Hatchet Jobs: Cutting Through Contemporary Literature (2004). The collection features mostly negative, though often well-argued, essay-reviews on a range of novelists both established--such as Philip Roth, Thomas Pynchon, and Julian Barnes--and relative newcomers, such as David Foster Wallace and Jonathan Franzen. Two omnibus essays are also included, one on novels about African-American women, and the other, on "gay-niche" fiction, titled "Stop Thinking: The (D)evolution of Gay Literature," of which Peck is mostly disparaging.

"If as a novelist, exposing homophobia is your mission," Peck remarks in the essay on Ethan Mordden's How Long Has This Been Going On? (1995), "then it seems worthwhile to point out that there's only so much one can learn about by looking at gay people; eventually you have to examine the homophobes, and that means looking at straight people."

Peck currently teaches creative writing at the New School University in New York and lives in Manhattan.

Craig Kaczorowski

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    Bibliography
   

Atlas, James. "The Takedown Artist." New York Times Magazine (October 26, 2003): 36-41.

Brenkman, John. "We Just Made Them Watch." The Nation (January 29, 1996): 31-32.

Bronski, Michael. "Imagination, Politics, and the Marketplace: Talking with Author Dale Peck." Gay Community News (Winter 1996): 12.

Canning, Richard. Hear Us Out: Conversations with Gay Novelists. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Currier, Jameson. "Mutatis Mutandis." The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review (April 30, 1996): 40.

Delany, Samuel R. "Clouds of Witness." Lambda Book Report (June 1998): 21-22.

Eder, Richard. "Beyond AIDS, a Darkness." Los Angeles Times (January 24, 1993): 3.

_____. "Connect, Only Connect." Los Angeles Times (February 4, 1996): 3.

Grant, Stephanie. "Body Double." The Village Voice (March 5, 1996): 13.

Heim, Scott. "Author, Author: Scott Heim and Dale Peck Dish the Dirt on Publishing, Fame, Kansas, and Peck's New Book." The Advocate (May 26, 1998): 78.

Kakutani, Michiko. "A Gothic Jigsaw Puzzle in a Small Kansas Town." New York Times (May 19, 1998): E9.

Leonard, John. "Smash-Mouth Criticism." New York Times Book Review (July 18, 2004): 10.

Lisicky, Paul. "What We Lost." Lambda Book Report (June/July 2004): 26-28.

Mendelsohn, Daniel. "Nailed!" The New York Review of Books (July 15, 2004): 43.

O'Hagan, Andrew. "Varieties of Manhood." New York Times Book Review (November 16, 2003): 14.

Roberts, Michael. "Exiles From the Family." Gay Community News (Winter 1996): 12.

Robins, Roy. "Daddy's Boy." New Statesman (April 5, 2004): 54.

Romano, Carlin. "Pecked to Death." The Chronicle of Higher Education (June 4, 2004): B16.

Seligman, Craig. "Fear and Loathing in Kansas." New York Times Book Review (June 21, 1998): 9-10.

Trachtenberg, Peter. "Pop Life." Artforum (Winter 2003): 47.

Ulin, David L. "Pecking Order." The Village Voice (June 30, 1998): 157-58.

Wiegand, David. "Isolation, Party of Two." San Francisco Chronicle (January 21, 1996): 3.

_____. "Giving Himself the Ax: Peck's Caustic Reviews Raise Questions About Fiction, Criticism, and Peck, Too." San Francisco Chronicle (June 20, 2004): M3.

Woelz, Karl. "Club Mickey." The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review (January 31, 1999): 53.

Woodhouse, Reed. Unlimited Embrace. A Canon of Gay Fiction, 1945-1995. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1998.

www.dalepeck.com.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Peck, Dale  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated February 11, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/peck_d.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
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    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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