Cady, Jack A(ndrew) 1932-2004
CADY, Jack A(ndrew) 1932-2004
PERSONAL: Surname rhymes with "lady"; born March 20, 1932, in Columbus, OH; died January 14, 2004, in Port Townsend, WA; son of Donald Victor (an auctioneer) and Pauline Lucille (a teacher and businesswoman; maiden name, Schmidt) Cady; married Betty Rex (marriage ended); married Patricia Distlehurst, March, 1966 (divorced January, 1972); married Deborah Robson (a writer and weaver), August, 1973 (divorced, 1976). Education: University of Louisville, B.S., 1961. Politics: "Every political system and form known is a catastrophe." Religion: Quaker ("not a good one").
CAREER: Writer. Auctioneer in Louisville, KY, 1956–61; U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Corbin, KY, Social Security claims representative, 1961–62; truck driver in the southeastern United States, 1962–65; tree high climber in Arlington, MA, 1965–66; landscape foreman in San Francisco, CA, 1966–67; University of Washington, Seattle, assistant professor of English, 1968–72; Knox College, Galesburg, IL, visiting writer, 1973; Clarion State College, Clarion, PA, visiting writer, 1974; Cady-Robson Landscaping, Port Townsend, WA, in landscape construction, beginning 1974; Port Townsend Journal, editor and publisher, 1974–76; Sitka Community College, Sitka, AK, visiting writer, 1977–78; freelance writer, 1978–2004. Lecturer at numerous colleges in the western United States; landscape consultant. Military service: U.S. Coast Guard, 1952–56; became petty officer 2nd class.
AWARDS, HONORS: "First" Award, Atlantic Monthly, 1965, for short story "The Burning"; National Literary Award, National Council of the Arts, 1971, for story "The Shark"; Washington Governor's Award and Iowa Award for Short Fiction, University of Iowa Press, both 1972, both for The Burning and Other Stories; World Fantasy Award, 1993, for The Sons of Noah; Nebula Award, Science Fiction Writers Association, 1994, and Bram Stoker Award, Horror Writers Association, both for "The Night We Buried Road Dog"; Philip K. Dick Award, Philadelphia Science Fiction Society, for Inagehi.
The Burning and Other Stories, University of Iowa Press (Iowa City, IA), 1973.
Tattoo: A Collection, Circinatum (Tacoma, WA), 1978.
The Sons of Noah and Other Stories, Broken Moon Press (Seattle, WA), 1992.
Ghosts of Yesteryear: Stories (short stories and essays), Night Shade Books (Portland, OR), 2003.
The Well, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1980.
Singleton, Madrona (Seattle, WA), 1981.
The Jonah Watch: A True-life Ghost Story in the Form of a Novel, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1981.
McDowell's Ghost: A Tale of the Border South, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1982.
The Man Who Could Make Things Vanish, Arbor House (New York, NY), 1983.
(Under pseudonym Pat Franklin) Dark Dreaming, Diamond (New York, NY), 1991.
(Under pseudonym Pat Franklin) Embrace of the Wolf, Diamond (New York, NY), 1993.
Street, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1994.
Inagehi, Broken Moon Press (Seattle, WA), 1994.
The Off Season: A Victorian Sequel, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1995.
The Night We Buried Road Dog, DreamHaven Books and Art (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.
The Haunting of Hood Canal, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Dear Friends, Being a Letter to the I.R.S. wherein the Author Explicates His Non-compliance with Certain Federal Tax Regulations and Details a Number of Inalienable Rights (chapbook), Copperhead (Port Townsend, WA), 1976.
The American Writer: Shaping of a Nation's Mind (nonfiction), St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Contributor to anthologies, including Best American Short Stories, edited by Martha Foley, Houghton, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, and American Literary Anthology No. 3, edited by George Plimpton and Peter Ardery, Viking, 1971. Columnist, Port Angeles Daily News. Contributor of stories to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Twigs, Omni, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Carolina Quarterly, Overdrive, and Yale Review.
SIDELIGHTS: Jack Cady was a literary fiction writer whose work often borrows elements from the genres of horror and fantasy. Cady, explained Darrell Schweitzer in the St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, "is certainly not a 'horror writer' per se, any more than was Joseph Conrad (to whom he is sometimes compared)…. His lyrical, deeply textured fictions often border on the strange and bizarre, whether they step all the way over the line into the openly fantastic or not."
Cady's first attempts at writing were primarily short stories inspired by his many jobs and life experiences in the 1960s. While his audience was limited, he won numerous awards for his short stories. These stories were also included in a number of anthologies of short fiction. By the 1970s Cady's professional life became slightly more stable as the co-owner of a landscaping business and holder of several professional writing and editing positions. His short story collections also began being published in book form.
Among Cady's best-known works is the short story "By Reason of Darkness," first published in 1988. "Here," Schweitzer believed, "we see all of Cady's strengths: the intense imagery, the well-realized, off-kilter characters who bond together in something beyond ordinary friendship …; and the poetic language which, in addition to the subject matter … has caused this story, especially, to be compared to Conrad's The Heart of Darkness."
Cady's final short story collection, Ghosts of Yesterday: Stories, contains a number of short fiction works as well as two essays. While a critic for Kirkus Reviews found the essays an odd inclusion and many of the stories not as noteworthy as earlier fiction works by Cady, the reviewer found the short-fiction piece "The Ghost of Dive Bomber Hill" to be "a great ghost story full of wisecracking vignettes." Other critics noted that Cady's collection includes well-crafted stories and succinct, realistic dialogue. A Publishers Weekly contributor, for example, commented that "a wonderfully luminous quality pervades Cady's fiction, sometimes because of his style."
In the 1980s Cady began publishing novels, primarily in the horror and fantasy genres, and The Off Season: A Victorian Sequel garnered the author critical praise. Set in a coastal resort town in the Pacific Northwest similar to Cady's home of Port Townsend, Washington, the novel tells of an apocalyptic disturbance of time that causes a revival of the town's dead, including the most evil resident of all. An odd assortment of living and dead characters join together to save the town from this menace. "This battle," wrote George Needham in Booklist, "and its stunning results are chillingly related…. With elements of fantasy [and] science fiction,… this novel has something to appeal to nearly all readers." A Publishers Weekly writer described The Off Season as "a curious pastiche that echoes unequal parts of The Divine Comedy, Alice in Wonderland, Pilgrim's Progress and Don Quixote," and concluded by calling the novel a "caustic fable" that is "admirable and worthy of note."
Many of Cady's later novels continue to touch on American life while maintaining their categorization in the horror and fantasy genres. The Haunting of Hood Canal is also set in a community in Washington state. Writing in Booklist, Regina Schroeder noted, "The atmospheric yarn gains much from its … setting." The story focuses on a number of fatal automobile wrecks that occur on the road next to Hood Canal, drawing in the residents of a small town as they discover what supernatural force has made the canal so deadly. While a reviewer for Publishers Weekly found aspects of the novel appealing and worthy of Cady's abilities as a writer, the critic felt that "the narrative never comes together as more than an assortment of oddball episodes from small-town life."
In addition to writing fiction, Cady occasionally published nonfiction works. One of the more notable of these is The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind, which discusses the history of literature in the United States and its relationship to other national literary canons. Cady includes commentary on the greater U.S. culture and calls for a new American mythology. In Publishers Weekly, a reviewer noted that The American Writer is "written in a jazzy, finger-snapping style, "but that Cady does not always live up the promise of his own premise.
Cady once told CA: "Art and writing, when it attains to the condition of literature, is non-secular. Politics, religion, economies have nothing to do with good writing. The writer has nothing to sell. All he does is try to discover a true thing and then say it truly. That is the whole job. Art allows humans to be humane in human affairs. It sustains. It seeks not idealism but rather continues to discover and bring to light the ideal. To do this one must assume the highest standards and pursue them relentlessly. Writing is only one of the arts. It is not greater or substantially different from painting, sculpture, teaching, acting, or the composition of music. The guy who works at it is not an artist. Instead, he works as hard as he can at what he's doing and it may be that the result attains to a condition greater than himself."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
St. James Guide to Horror, Ghost, and Gothic Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Booklist, October 15, 1995, George Needham, review of The Off Season: A Victorian Sequel, p. 384; October 1, 2001, Regina Schroeder, review of The Haunting of Hood Canal, p. 304.
Kirkus Reviews, August 1, 2001, review of The Haunting of Hood Canal, p. 1044; December 15, 2002, review of Ghosts of Yesterday: Stories, p. 1785.
Library Journal, August, 2001, Nancy McNicol, review of The Haunting of Hood Canal, p. 158.
Publishers Weekly, September 25, 1995, review of The Off Season, p. 43; October 11, 1999, review of The American Writer: Shaping a Nation's Mind, p. 67; August 13, 2001, review of The Haunting of Hood Canal, p. 290; January 6, 2003, review of Ghosts of Yesterday, p. 44.
Independent (London, England), January 21, 2004, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times, January 18, 2004, p. B18.
Washington Post, January 22, 2004, p. B7.