Brad Gooch is the author of the acclaimed biography of Frank O’Hara, City Poet, as well as other nonfiction and three novels. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and Guggenheim fellowships, he earned his Ph.D. at Columbia University and is Professor of English at William Paterson University in New Jersey. His biogrpahy of Flannery O’Connor, Flannery, will be released in February.
A perk of writing biographies is the stack of must-read books that pile up during research. I have my subject Flannery O’Connor to thank for two that I finally got around to in the past year: Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer, an almost medieval tale of conversion in a thoroughly modern setting – and mindset – that is unrivaled, except perhaps by W. Somerset Maugham’s The Razor’s Edge; and William Faulkner’s novella Spotted Horses, an account of a horse auction in a small town that somehow builds to an eye-popping scene of accidentally freed wild horses galloping in a blur of manic verbal energy through a Southern widow’s otherwise tidy parlor floor.