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Lurie, Morris 1938–

Lurie, Morris 1938–

PERSONAL:

Born October 30, 1938, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; divorced; children: one son, one daughter. Education: Attended Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Box Hill North, Victoria, Australia.

CAREER:

Full-time writer, 1973—. Formerly worked in advertising.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Patrick White Award, 2006.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

Rappaport, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1966, Morrow (New York, NY), 1967.

The London Jungle Adventures of Charlie Hope, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1968.

Rappaport's Revenge, Angus & Robertson (London, England), 1973.

Flying Home, Outback Press (Collingwood, Victoria, Australia), 1978.

Seven Books for Grossman, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1983.

Madness, Angus & Robertson (Sydney, Australia), 1991.

SHORT STORY COLLECTIONS

Happy Times, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1969.

Inside the Wardrobe: Twenty Stories, Outback Press (Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia), 1975, Horizon Press (New York, NY), 1978.

Running Nicely, Hamish Hamilton (London, England), 1979.

Dirty Friends, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1981.

Outrageous Behaviour: Best Stories of Morris Lurie, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1984.

The Night We Ate the Sparrow: A Memoir and Fourteen Stories, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1985.

Three Stories, Grossman (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1987.

Two Brothers, Running: Seventeen Stories and a Movie, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1990.

The String, McPhee Gribble (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1995.

Welcome to Tangier, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1997.

The Secret Strength of Children, Bruce Sims (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

FOR CHILDREN

The Twenty-seventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race, illustrated by Richard Sawers, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1969, published with illustrations by Elizabeth Honey, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1977.

Arlo, the Dandy Lion, illustrations by Richard Sawers, McGraw (New York, NY), 1971, published with illustrations by Brett Colquhoun, Penguin (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1983.

Zeeks Alive!, Longman (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1977.

Toby's Millions, Kestral (Ringwood, Victoria, Australia), 1982.

The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, illustrated by Terry Denton, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 1984, Houghton-Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1988.

Night-Night! Seven Going-to-Bed Stories—One Wonderful Story for Every Night of the Week, illustrated by Alison Lestis, Oxford University Press (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1986.

Heroes, Methuen (North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia), 1987.

Alison Gets Told, ABC Enterprises (Crow's Nest, New South Wales, Australia), 1990.

What's That Noise? What's That Sound?, Random Century (Milsons Point, New South Wales, Australia), 1991.

Boy in a Storm at Sea, Margaret Hamilton (Sydney, Australia), 1997.

OTHER

The English in Heat (essays), illustrations by Michael Leunig, Angus & Robertson (London, England), 1972.

Hack Work (essays), Outback Press (Collingwood, Victoria, Australia), 1977.

About Burt Britton, John Cheever, Gordon Lish, William Saroyan, Isaac B. Singer, Kurt Vonnegut, and Other Matters, Horizon Press (New York, NY), 1978.

(Editor) John Hepworth, John Hepworth: His Book, Angus & Robertson (London, England), 1978.

Waterman: Three Plays (includes "Waterman," "Jangle, Jangle," and "A Visit to the Uncle"), Outback Press (Collingwood, Victoria, Australia), 1979.

Public Secrets: Blowing the Whistle on Australia, England, France, Japan, the U.S.A., and Places Worse, illustrated by Edward Koren, Sun Books (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1981.

Snow Jobs (essays), Pascoe (Carlton, Victoria, Australia), 1985.

Whole Life: An Autobiography, McPhee Gribble (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1987.

My Life as a Movie and Other Gross Conceits: 24 Essays Sportifs, McPhee Gribble (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1988.

When and How to Write Short Stories and What They Are, Common Ground (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.

Seventeen Versions of Jewishness, 20 Examples, Common Ground (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2001.

Work represented in anthologies, including Jewish Writing from Down Under: Australia and New Zealand, edited by Roberta Kalechofsky and Robert Kalechofsky, Micah, 1984. Contributor to periodicals, including Antaeus, New Yorker, Penthouse, Transatlantic Review, and Virginia Quarterly.

SIDELIGHTS:

Morris Lurie is a prolific, versatile Australian writer who has distinguished himself with adult novels and short stories, juvenile works, and both autobiographical and critical writings. The son of Jewish immigrants to Australia, Lurie has written about the immigrant experience and has traveled widely in Europe and America. In Contemporary Novelists, D.J. O'Hearn styled Lurie as "a spinner of yarns" and "a writer deeply concerned for the constant rediscovery of human values and human freedom." O'Hearn continued: "Behind the sophisticated wit, the mock-heroic style of so much of his works, lies a writer making sense of the modern world, noting its curiosities and failures of sensibility, but realizing, through his imaginative creations, the human capacity to survive with sadness, but also with humor."

One of Lurie's best-known works is Rappaport, his comedic first novel about an antique dealer (the title character) and his friendship with an advertising copywriter named Friedlander. The men's relationship is one of seemingly endless competition: For instance, one announces that he plans to purchase some rare furniture, whereupon the other reveals his intentions of traveling to the Soviet Union. Though Australians, the men share an enthusiasm for all things quintessentially American: movies, jazz, silly magazines. But Friedlander's intentions of leaving for the Soviet Union, together with other disappointments Rappaport experiences during the course of one day, prompt Rappaport to reconsider his life. Martin Levin, writing in the New York Times Book Review, deemed Rappaport a "sparkling" novel, while Nation critic Sara Blackburn termed it "very funny."

Another of Lurie's novels, The London Jungle Adventures of Charlie Hope, presents a gregarious title character given to emotional extremes while simultaneously wallowing in near constant indecision. The novel's other key figure is an aspiring novelist who provides a continual consideration of Charlie Hope's life as fuel for a novel.

Flying Home takes as its theme the strange predicament of the Jewish son of immigrants who feels alienated from the country of his birth because his parents and grandparents retain their emotional ties to Europe. The main character, Leo Axelrod, must seek his roots in Europe and Israel before he can come to terms with himself and with his lover, Marianne. O'Hearn suggested that Flying Home explores "the confused and confusing tangle of roots and origins which migrant families carry within their displaced baggage." The critic also observed: "This exploration of the mystery of family relationships—their tortuous and often painful ambiguities—and the search for a locus, a spiritual natal place, are the predominant themes of Lurie's work until the early 1980s."

In Seven Books for Grossman, Lurie presents a particularly outlandish story: a literary scholar, after running afoul of mobsters, secures himself at an opulent hotel, dresses as a woman, and produces pornographic parodies of works by such writers as Isaac Bashevis Singer, J.D. Salinger, and Ernest Hemingway. Art Seidenbaum, in a mixed review for the Los Angeles Times, wrote that the novel degenerated into "humor for its own sake" but that Lurie nonetheless "tells several funny stories and piles up several funny premises."

As a children's writer, Lurie has produced some characteristically quirky works. In The Twenty-seventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race, for instance, a young hippo trains for a grueling fourteen-mile swimming race. Jerome Beatty, Jr., writing in the New York Times Book Review, described the final competition as "a very exciting event." In The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, Lurie focuses on a young girl whose height fails to exceed six inches. An Observer critic found this "a super book." In his assessment of Lurie's children's books, O'Hearn noted: "These simple, homespun yarns have proved immensely popular with young children, partly because Lurie manages the difficult feat of containing his narrative within the perspective of a child's eye and allowing his fictive heroes moderate, but not overwhelming, success in a world seen as competitive, but not threatening."

O'Hearn contended that in all of his various works Lurie "shows himself not only as an acute and funny social observer, but as something of a transcultural anthropologist. His interest in the quirky, the outrageous, the madcap, in no way diminishes his exploration of the roots of human behavior and ideals." The critic concluded, "Lurie, like Judah Waten before him, explores [the] conflict between the New World and the Old World in compassionate, yet humorous, terms, finding a voice for hundreds of thousands of people caught up in the postwar migration and refugee flood which brought so much to Australian life and culture."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Contemporary Novelists, 6th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996, pp. 629-631.

Lurie, Morris, Whole Life: An Autobiography, McPhee Gribble (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1987.

Lurie, Morris, My Life as a Movie and Other Gross Conceits: 24 Essays Sportifs, McPhee Gribble (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1988.

PERIODICALS

Economist, June 15, 1985, review of The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, p. 107.

Horn Book, January-February, 1989, Ann A. Flowers, review of The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, p. 55.

Los Angeles Times, June 22, 1984, Art Seidenbaum, review of Seven Books for Grossman, p. 25.

Nation, October 9, 1967, Sara Blackburn, review of Rappaport, p. 348.

New York Times Book Review, August 27, 1967, Martin Levin, review of Rappaport, p. 32; May 24, 1970, Jerome Beatty, Jr., review of The Twenty-seventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race, p. 32.

Observer (London, England), March 11, 1979, review of Running Nicely, p. 36; April 7, 1985, review of The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, March 4, 1983, review of Dirty Friends, p. 95; May 11, 1984, review of Seven Books for Grossman, p. 268; May 31, 1985, review of Outrageous Behaviour: Best Stories of Morris Lurie, p. 53; October 28, 1988, review of The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, p. 79.

Saturday Review, May 9, 1970, review of The Twentyseventh Annual African Hippopotamus Race, p. 45; June 10, 1978, review of About Burt Britton, John Cheever, Gordon Lish, William Saroyan, Isaac B. Singer, Kurt Vonnegut, and Other Matters, p. 40.

School Library Journal, January, 1989, Christine Behrmann, review of The Story of Imelda, Who Was Small, p. 64.

Times Literary Supplement, October 27, 1966, review of Rappaport, p. 986; January 30, 1969, review of Happy Times, p. 116; December 3, 1971, review of Arlo, the Dandy Lion, p. 1515.

Washington Post Book World, July 31, 1983, review of Dirty Friends, p. 12.

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