Novelist, Film writer
1922 – 1995
Who was Calder Willingham?
Before the age of thirty, after just three novels and a collection of short stories, The New Yorker was already describing Willingham as having “fathered modern black comedy,” his signature a dry, straight-faced humor, made funnier by its concealed comic intent. His work matured over six more novels, including Eternal Fire, which Newsweek said “deserves a place among the dozen or so novels that must be mentioned if one is to speak of greatness in American fiction.” He had a significant career in cinema, too, as a frequent collaborator of Stanley Kubrick as well writing The Graduate and other notable films.
After dropping out of The Citadel, then working for the Office of War Information in Washington, Willingham moved to New York where he wrote for ten years, setting three novels there. During the late ‘40s and early ‘50s, Willingham was considered at the forefront of the gritty, realistic new breed of Post-War novelists, Norman Mailer, James Jones, Truman Capote, Gore Vidal and others, many of whom also made up the Greenwich Village literary scene at the time.
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