I first came upon James T. Farrell (1904–1979) as a possible subject for a book around 1990, in a memoir by Sloan Wilson, the author of that emblematic novel of the 1950s The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Wilson had encountered the older novelist, whose work he’d long admired, during a brief stay at a New York hotel in 1961, and in his 1976 memoir he made Farrell seem an interesting...
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