Monday, April 16, 2012

Lewis "Buddy" Nordan: August 3, 1939 - April 13, 2012


Lewis Nordan was an original—a writer of dark, hilarious and affecting fiction. He taught creative writing at the University of Pittsburgh until his retirement in 2005. Though plagued by peripheral neuropathy, Lewis continued to write by typing with only one finger. 

Lewis' trademark was magic realism, creating lyrical worlds where strange and eccentric was normal, and the supernatural was commonplace. Famous for his colorful vision of the Mississippi Delta, his characters often experienced life as a double-edged sword, where horrible things could also be horribly funny.

His eighth book, Boy With Loaded Gun, is a transcendent memoir that unflinchingly chronicles his own life with heartbreaking humor.

An increasingly important writer, the book Lewis Nordan: Humor, Heartbreak and Hope (shown above) deepens the base of scholarship on his work with a series of essays, poems and visual art.

At VCCA, Lewis is also known for the "Buddy" bug. Years ago, when Sheila and Craig Pleasants lived on the grounds with their young daughters, the girls set up a Bug Show on the walkway between the residence and the studios. Various insects were on display in baby food jars. Fellows had to pay for a look at some of the more exotic catches, which were hidden under cardboard. Lewis paid 25¢. For his generosity, the girls named their biggest, most exciting find after Buddy. So now, when you come to VCCA, the Eastern Dobsonfly is known as the "Buddy Bug".

In the VCCA Voices video, Lewis Nordan described his time at Mt. San Angelo as "a huge gift". It was a gift he returned to the literary world a thousand times over.


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