Wednesday, January 03, 2007

What Really Bills Me IS I'm only goal b

Breece D'J Pancake (June 29, 1952-April 8, 1979) was an author of short fiction whose promising career was cut short by an apparent suicide. His works were originally published in The Atlantic and have since been collected in The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake. His literary style, uncomplicated and compact yet vivid and powerful, has been compared to Ernest Hemingway's. Most of his stories are set in rural West Virginia and revolve around characters and naturalistic settings adapted from his own past.

Pancake was born in South Charleston, West Virginia in 1952 and reared in Milton. Pancake briefly attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon before transferring to Marshall University in Huntington, where he completed a bachelor's degree in English education. As a graduate student he studied at the University of Virginia's creative writing program. He also worked as an English teacher at two Virginia military academies.

While at the University of Virginia, Pancake deliberately styled himself as an uncultured hillbilly, distancing himself from the mostly erudite students at the prestigious school. He was an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and camping. He also deeply appreciated the music of folk singer Phil Ochs. Pancake died from a shotgun wound in Charlottesville, Virginia, and was buried in Milton.

Among the writers who claim Pancake as a strong influence are Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, and Andre Dubus III, author of House of Sand and Fog. After Pancake's death, author Kurt Vonnegut wrote, "I give you my word of honor that he is merely the best writer, the most sincere writer I’ve ever read. What I suspect is that it hurt too much, was no fun at all to be that good."

[edit] Trivia

* The unusual middle name "D'J" originated from a misprint of Pancake's middle initials (D.J., for Dexter John). Pancake decided not to correct it.

[edit] Bibliography

Casey, John (1983). Afterword to The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake. Boston: The Atlantic Monthly Press Book.

Cochrane, Ashley (March 2, 1995) Breece D'J Pancake tells of personal strife at the University. The Cavalier Daily.

Douglass, Thomas E. A (1998) Room Forever: The Life, Work, and Letters of Breece D'J Pancake. Knoxville: University of Tennesse Press.

Douglass, Thomas E. A (Summer, 1990). The Story of Breece D'J Pancake. Appalachian Journal. 17:4, pp. 376-390.

Finnegan, Brian (Spring, 1997). Road stories that stay home: Car and driver in Appalachia and "The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake." The Southern Literary Journal. 29:2, pp.87+.

Hugh, Ellesa Clay (1985). A Lost Generation: The Appalachia of Breece D'J Pancake. Appalachian Journal. 13:1, pp.34-40.

Kadohata, Cynthia (1996). Breece D'J Pancake. Mississippi Review.

Snyder, Bob (1988). Pancake and Benedict. Appalachian Journal. 15:3, pp. 276-283.

Stevens, David (1996). Writing region across the border: Two stories of Breece Pancake and Alistair MacLeod. Studies in Short Fiction. 33:2, 263+.


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