Daniel Green at The Quarterly Conversation:
Purdy’s alienation from the dominant literary culture as represented by both publishers and reviewers ultimately became quite profound, prompted, no doubt, by his acknowledgment of the perceived irrelevance of his books, although publishers had demonstrated indifference, if not outright hostility, to his earliest fiction as well. (His first important work, 63: Dream Palace, was published in Great Britain after it could find no publisher in the United States.) Yet it is also the case that Purdy did very little on his part to ameliorate the situation. He gave few friendly interviews, did not participate in any efforts to better “position” his work in the literary marketplace, and above all never tried to write differently in order to make his fiction more amenable to conventional expectations of “literary fiction.” For readers, journalists, or critics who are more interested in writers than writing, more concerned about business than literature, Purdy’s attitude might have understandably been frustrating. Similarly, some readers and critics might rightly have found Purdy’s fiction stubbornly idiosyncratic, but dismissing it as idiosyncratic before determining if those idiosyncrasies actually amount to a sustained artistic vision hardly seems a very serious response.
Indeed, those of us who have read deeply into Purdy’s fiction quickly enough realize that what could be called its idiosyncrasies are in fact its greatest strengths and that Purdy didn’t merely write one or two individually adventurous, original stories or novels but instead created a comprehensively original body of work, each separate work providing a variation on Purdy’s themes and methods but also exemplifying his larger achievement.