Bill Morris at The Millions:
Though never a household name, Bruce Duffy drew rapturous critical praise for his 1987 debut novel, The World as I Found It, a fictional biography of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Duffy was unfazed when the dense and challenging book failed to catch on with readers. “You know,” he said at the time, “you don’t always have a choice of what you’re going to write. You’re not like a cow that can give ice cream with one udder and milk with another. So I said, ‘Screw it!’ I don’t care what anybody thinks.”
Duffy, who died from complications of brain cancer on Feb. 10 at 70, produced just two more novels—an autobiographical tale about a 12-year-old boy who flees his home in the Maryland suburbs after his mother’s death, and a reimagining of the life of the scabrous French poet Arthur Rimbaud. All the while Duffy worked day jobs as a security guard, corporate consultant and speechwriter. Though The World as I Found It was reissued as a classic by NYRB in 2010, Duffy couldn’t find a literary agent willing to shop his fourth novel. Once again he said “Screw it!” and started writing a new book. He was working on it at the time of his death.