Dale Peck (born 1967) is an American novelist
, literary critic
, and columnist
. His 2009 novel, ''Sprout
'', won the Lambda Literary Award
for LGBT Children's/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award
in the Children's and Young Adult Literature category.
Peck was born on Long Island, New York
. He was raised in Kansas
and attended Drew University
in New Jersey
, graduating in 1989. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship
Peck's first novel, ''Martin and John'', was published in 1993. His subsequent work, which continued to explore issues of identity and sexuality, were met with more mixed reviews. Salon.com
described ''Now It's Time to Say Goodbye'' as a "hyperpotboiler" with a plot "both sensational and preposterous."
''The New York Review of Books
'' called ''Martin and John'' "surprisingly sophisticated", but said ''Now It's Time to Say Goodbye'' "collapsed under the weight of its overladen allegorical structures" and diagnosed Peck's fiction as a "seesaw between a strained 'lyricism' ... and cliché."
Peck has also drawn attention as a critic. His reviews for ''The New Republic
'', while establishing him as one of the most influential commentators on books, also garnered the opprobrium of the literary establishment for their negative treatment of some of the most highly regarded writers at the time, but also their underlying questioning of what would be the larger project of turn-of-the-century American letters. His most notorious line, "Rick Moody
is the worst writer of his generation," set the tone for a collection of essays published under the title ''Hatchet Jobs''.
In 1996, Peck reviewed the David Foster Wallace best-selling
novel ''Infinite Jest
'', writing that "
at makes the book’s success even more noteworthy is that it is, in a word, terrible. Other words I might use include bloated, boring, gratuitous, and – perhaps especially – uncontrolled. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that ''Infinite Jest'' is one of the very few novels for which the phrase ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’ has real meaning in at least an ecological
sense." Peck, in the same article, also attacked American writers Jonathan Franzen
, Don DeLillo
, and Thomas Pynchon
, characterizing the latter as "a very clever guy" and his prose as "tentacular – I might almost say...amorphous."
Peck's reviews, in turn, were met with criticism, with the editors of Brooklyn-based ''n+1
'' magazine, though stating, in 2004, that
when ''The New Republic'' took a writer down—as it notoriously did with Toni Morrison, Judith Butler, Frank Bidart, Don DeLillo, Elaine Scarry, Colson Whitehead, Kurt Andersen, Sharon Olds, Thomas Pynchon, Zadie Smith, Jonathan Franzen, Barbara Kingsolver...twas the best literary section in the country
With the emergence of the ridiculous Dale Peck, the method of Wieseltier's literary salon reached its ''reductio ad absurdum''. Peck smeared the walls with shit, and bankrupted their authority for all time to come. So many forms of extremism turn into their opposite at the terminal stage. Thus ''The New Republic''s supposed brief for dry, austere, high-literary value—manifesting itself for years in a baffled rage against everything new or confusing—led to Peck's auto-therapeutic wetness (as self-pity is the refuge of bullies) and hatred of classic modernism (which, to philistines, will always be new and confusing).
In May 2011, Peck's criticism of Jewish American literature
in which he claimed "
I have to read another book about the Holocaust
, I'll kill a Jew myself" prompted a public outcry. His editors later removed the statement from his article.
In 2016, Peck was named editor-in-chief
of the revived online ''Evergreen Review
''. "I want the magazine to be something between a community and a place where lone wolves hang out," Peck said at the site's launch in March 2017. "I have a preference for experimental literature, but for genuinely experimental literature as opposed to literature that says it is experimental but it is really just repeating someone else’s experiment from 70 years ago. All good literature is experimental, at least in the sense that it invents its own terms."
In 2019, Peck wrote an article published by ''The New Republic
'' titled "My Mayor Pete Problem,"
referring to Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg
, which, was subsequently criticized as homophobic
''The New Republic'' pulled the article after hours online. Editor Chris Lehmann stated, "''The New Republic'' recognizes that this post crossed a line, and while it was largely intended as satire, it was inappropriate and invasive."
Peck teaches creative writing
at The New School
in New York City
. He is also a columnist for ''Out''
Peck is gay
* ''Martin and John'' (1993) - released as ''Fucking Martin'' in the UK
* ''The Law of Enclosures
* ''Now It's Time to Say Goodbye'' (1999)
* ''Body Surfing'' (2009)
* ''Shift: A Novel (Gates of Orpheus Trilogy)
'' (2010) with Tim Kring
* ''The Garden of Lost and Found'' (2012)Lopez, Dan. "Dale Peck: Lost and Found." Lambda Literary Review. September 21, 2012.
Accessed September 28, 2012.
*''Night Soil'', Soho Press (2018)
; Children's books
* ''Drift House: The First Voyage'' (2005)
* ''The Lost Cities: A Drift House Voyage'' (2007)
* ''Sprout'' (2009)
* ''What We Lost'' (2004)
* ''Hatchet Jobs'' (2004)
James Atlas's profile of Peck in the New York Times Magazine in 2003
Review of Peck's ''Hatchet Jobs'' (2004), reviewed in ''n+1'' by Marco Roth.
"Peck the Knife: a Case Study in Critical Aggression"
Review of Peck's ''Hatchet Jobs'' (2004) in ''Slate'', by Laura Kipnis.
Category:20th-century American novelists
Category:21st-century American novelists
Category:American male novelists
Category:LGBT writers from the United States
Category:Drew University alumni
Category:International House of New York alumni
Category:American literary critics
Category:People from Long Island
Category:Lambda Literary Award for Children's and Young Adult Literature winners
Category:Novelists from New York (state)
Category:20th-century American male writers
Category:21st-century American male writers
Category:20th-century American non-fiction writers
Category:21st-century American non-fiction writers
Category:American male non-fiction writers