John P. Marquand -- information
Here's the Wiki on him:
A friend of mine asked me what I thought about Wikipedia. I think it's admirable in scope, a little less admirable in depth. I wouldn't trust it for anything controversial, or for the most part for anything complicated. Still, though, you got to love a reference source that has articles on both John P. Marquand and noted adult film actress Crissy Moran.
This is not one of the better Wikis out there -- it's less information and more talking points. And it doesn't even have all the information. The only two things I knew about Marquand before I did my search was that he was a hardcore alcoholic and that one of his wives drowned in the bathtub, a decidedly unpleasant way to go. You won't find that here.
Here's a better biographical piece, from a site that's all about notable American Unitarians. Hey, you know who else is a notable American Unitarian? Glenn Danzig.
Nah, I'm kidding. Glenn Danzig is a notable Rotarian.
The bio is a transcript of a speech his grandson made to some kind of something. It's earnest and likable enough, if a bit dull. It does point out the autobiographical basis for both Wickford Point and Point of No Return. Which is interesting in that those are probably his two best books. Much better though are the pictures, including a priceless one of Marquand getting ready to go up in an Air Force jet. I want to do that myself sometime.
Here's the Yardley piece that started the mini-Marquand boomlet.
Yardley is a likable guy and writes well in passages here. He gets it exactly wrong, though: the interesting thing isn't that nobody reads Marquand anymore, the interesting thing is that somebody once did. What does a housewife in Schnectady, trying out a new Jello recipe, know or care about Mr. Pulham's painful-because-they-were so-painless compromises? Yardley tries to locate Marquand's character's struggles in the depths of every human heart, but I think that's giving Marquand rather too much credit. Certainly he never saw things that way: for him the point was that this was a localized phenomenon. He was describing a region and a certain type who inhabited it.
Here's a much much better piece from The Atlantic.
And here's a self-satisfied one from a no-doubt aging editor at the Boston Globe:
Indicative of that kind of received wisdom I find so tiresome.