Thomas Berger: Contribution as American Novelist

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      Thomas Louis Berger (1924-2014), was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and graduated from the University of Cincinnati. His fiction examines the disjunction between the appearance and the essence. His characters search for immutable truth and secure place in the world. He has produced a series of comic novels about his non-Jewish schlemiel hero Carol Reinhart (Crazy in Berlin 1958), Reinhart in Love, (1962), Vital Parts, (1970), Reinhart’s Women (1981). This tetra logy is a tour of the post-World War II American culture. Berger reinvents class fictional forms in Little Big Man (1964), his most famous book, The Regiment of Women (1973), Arthur Rex (1978) and Ossie’s Story (1990). He has written parodies of the detective novel Who is Teddy Villanova? (1977) and Arthurian Romance (Arthur Rex, 1978) replayed Oresteia (Ossie’s Story, 1990) and Robinson Crusoe (Robinson Crews, 1994) for modem times, and engaged in satirical fables about, for instance, a man with the power, in Little Big Man (1964).

      Thomas Berger other novels are darkly comic-Killing Time (1967), Sneaky People (1975), Neighbors (1980) The Feud (1983), Being Invisible (1987), The House Guest (1988), Changing the Post (1989), Meeting Evil (1992), Suspects (1996), The Return of the Little Big Man (1999), and Best Friends (2003). The whole novel draws on the traditions of frontier humor and the tall tale Berger endows Crabb with a voice that is vernacular and vital. His view of life is a moral and un-illusion. Jack Crabb, on his own account, is 111 years old. He claims to be the only survivor of Custer’s last stand, to have knocked out Earp, and to have been in shootout with “Wild Bill” Hickok. He careers between roles and cultures with a brainy opportunism. Set in classic American past, Little Big Man is about the typical Protean man of post-modern fiction, for whom there are no settled certainties and the roles are picked and discarded like clothes. The classic myth, demystified, mocked and parodied is a very prolific writer.

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