Novelist J.P. Dunleavy's "The Ginger Man" and "The Beastly Beatitudes of Balthazar B" drew rapturous praise from a few of my pals.
The author's picaresque characters such as "The Ginger Man's" Sebastian Dangerfield served as life guides for some acquaintances, as dubious as that seems.
Dunleavy, born in New York City of Irish parents, died this week at age 91. He lived on a huge estate in Ireland, claiming Irish citizenship because of its tax-free policy for artists, according to an obituary in the Guardian.
After Dunleavy had trouble finding a publisher for "The Ginger Man," Maurice Giordias' Olympia Press published the book in 1955, marketing it as pornography, to Dunleavy's chagrin. Dunleavy later purchased the publisher, whose authors included Samuel Beckett.
The book was first published in the United States in an expurgated version, one of the last books receiving such censorship. Now, "The Ginger Man's" language appears tame.
"The Ginger Man" and the "Beastly Beatitudes" generated many dorm-room discussions, but Dunleavy's boisterous narratives never captivated me. Nor did I care much for another cult favorite, Richard Farina's "I've Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up to Me," although I loved the folk songs he recorded with his wife, Mimi Farina.
On the literary front, I loved another college-kid idol, Farina's pal Thomas Pynchon, and Kurt Vonnegut. My tastes were also regional: Larry McMurtry and Walker Percy.