Bruce Duffy, hailed for his ambitious first novel, dies at 70

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During a class on Tolstoy and DH Lawrence, she recalled in a phone interview: “Here is this 6ft 6in guy, sitting in the front row, laughing at me, rolling his eyes and making faces . I had never seen anything like it. I called him into my office and asked, ‘How would you teach this lesson?’ He had no idea. He just wanted to get attention and he told me what he was writing.

After graduating, Mr. Duffy became a security guard at the Hospital for Sick Children (now the HSC Pediatric Center) in Washington. He brought a typewriter to the hospital, where he worked on his fiction and poetry. It was the start of a pattern – continuing to write while working full-time jobs as a consultant for Labat-Anderson, then as a speechwriter for mortgage company Fannie Mae and accounting firm Deloitte. . He has also written for magazines like Harper’s and Life.

In 1997, Mr Duffy published his second novel, “Last Comes the Egg”, about a 12-year-old boy’s escape from his home in suburban Maryland with two friends after the death of his mother. It was based in part on his childhood in the suburb of Garrett Park.

Then, in 2011, came Disaster Was My God, completed after years of reflecting on Rimbaud’s poetry and wildlife. He needed to find a way to make the nasty parts of his life feel – to “create this oxymoron, a sympathetic Arthur Rimbaud”, as he told The Daily Beast.

“The World As I Found It” was given new life in 2010 when the New York Review of Books’ publishing division reissued it as a “classic” after it was out of print.

“It’s a serious novel about the grip of ideas and a historical novel executed with a very personal and remarkably light touch,” Edwin Frank, editorial director of the publishing division, said in an email. He added: “Bruce’s book generally drives philosopher bats, by the way – another thing that recommends it.”

In addition to his daughter Kate, Mr. Duffy is survived by another daughter, Lily Duffy; her stepson, Sam Kupfer; his wife, Dr. Susan Segal, and one granddaughter. His marriage to Marianne Glass ended in divorce.

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