Madden Biography


Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1933, David Madden graduated from the University of Tennessee, served in the Army, earned an M.A. at San Francisco State, and attended Yale School of Drama on a John Golden Fellowship.

Writer-in-residence at LSU from 1968 to 1992, Director of the Creative Writing Program 1992-1994, Founding Director of the United States Civil War Center 1992-1999, he is now LSU Robert Penn Warren Professor of Creative Writing Emeritus.

In l961, Random House published his first novel, The Beautiful Greed, based on his Merchant seaman experiences. For Warner Brothers, he adapted his second novel, Cassandra Singing (1969), to the screen (not yet produced). The Suicide’s Wife (1978) was made into a CBS Movie of the Week in 1979. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, as was  Sharpshooter: A Novel of the Civil War (1996).

The Shadow Knows, a book of stories, won a National Council on the Arts Award, judged by Hortense Calisher and Walker Percy. His second collection, The New Orleans of Possibilities, appeared in 1982.  On the Big Wind (1980) is a short story cycle. His fourth collection is The Last Bizarre Tale (2014).

His stories have been reprinted in numerous college textbooks and twice in Best American Short Stories.

A Rockefeller Grant, recommended by Robert Penn Warren and Saul Bellow, enabled him to work in Venice and Yugoslavia on his third novel, Bijou, a 1974 Book of the Month Club Alternate Selection.

Madden’s other novels are Hair of the Dog (1967), Pleasure-Dome (1979), Abducted By Circumstance (2010), and London Bridge in Plague and Fire (2012).

His poems and short stories have appeared in a wide variety of publications, from Redbook and Playboy to The Southern Review and Botteghe Oscure.

Five of his plays have won state and national contests and three have been published.

Madden is also a Civil War historian, having published Classics of Civil War Fiction (1991), Thomas Wolfe’s Civil War (2004), and a long introduction to a reprint of Loss of the Sultana and Reminiscences of Survivors (2005). Forthcoming in 2015 is a collection of essays, The Tangled Web of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Madden’s literary essays are collected in The Poetic Image in Six Genres (1969) and Touching the Web of Southern Novelists (2006). He has written books of literary criticism about major American novelists. His James M. Cain (1970) was the first book ever about Cain, causing a major rebirth of interest in Cain; a major revision came out in 2011 called James M. Cain: Hardboiled Mythmaker; Cain’s Craft was published in 1985. Madden knew Cain well and has written a short biography, taking an innovative approach (not yet published).

Among his other works of literary criticism are: Wright Morris (first book on Morris), A Primer of the Novel (a major revision in 2006), Harlequin’s Stick, Charlie’s Cane, Writer’s Revisions, and Revising Fiction.

He has published essays on Albert Camus, James Joyce, William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, Katherine Mansfield, Michel Tournier, William Gaddis, Jules Romains, Emily Bronte, Edward Albee, Graham Greene, Richard Wilbur, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, Joseph Conrad, Eugene O’Neill, Ross Macdonald, Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Wolfe, James Dickey, Ingmar Bergman, Ikira Kurasawa.

Best-known of the many books of original critical essays he has edited are Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, Proletarian Writers of the Thirties, Remembering James Agee, Nathanael West: The Cheaters and the Cheated, Rediscoveries [I and II], Wright Morris Territory, and Absalom, Absalom!.

He has edited innovative short story textbooks: The Popular Culture Explosion, Creative Choices, The World of Fiction, Studies in the Short Story, and eight titles in the widely imitated Cengage Pocketful series of stories, poems, plays, and rhetoric.

A former assistant editor of The Kenyon Review he has served on the Advisory Board of several other literary and film magazines.

He has given lectures at many conferences and dramatic readings from his fiction at over 200 colleges and universities.

Writer-in-Residence at UNC-Chapel Hill, Clark University, Lynchburg College, among others, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar at the University of Delaware, he held the Chair of Excellence at Austin Peay State University.

David Madden: A Writer for All Genres consists of original essays by scholars and creative writers on Madden’s writings.

Visit Wikipedia for a more detailed Biography.




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 Posted by at 6:22 am

  3 Responses to “Madden Biography”

  1. David,
    Just finished your book ‘Revising Fiction’, which I learned about in ‘Wonderbook’. Wanted to reach out to thank you. That book is so full of wonderful information, so, so much, it was impossible to digest all the wisdom on the first pass. Needless to say, I’ll be reading it again and again for time to come.
    I particularly enjoyed the dissection of ‘The Day the Flowers Came’. It was helpful to see how you restructured the story, and why. Gotta ask tho (cuz it’s burning in my mind), about the flowers being delivered on Labor Day. You leave the question up to the reader, but I can’t help but wonder why DID you choose to leave in the flowers being delivered on Labor Day? (My guess is that it contributes to a kind of dream-like quality the story has; that neither we nor J.D. know exactly what’s going on, or how to get our bearings, until the final paragraph. Am I right?)
    Anyway, hope all is well. Looking forward to another pass at ‘Revising Fiction.’
    Robert S.
    Dallas, TX

    • David Madden

      I am delighted that my book is still so helpful to so many who write to me. Thank you.
      Yes, you are quite right, although even for me the aura of mystery remains essential to the story. Coincidences torment him. David

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