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Narrow Rooms

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  129 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A powerful story of love turned round, of passion and fierce discovery, of lives illuminated by flickering violence.

As Purdy spins the story of the extraordinary symbiotic relationship between four boys in a remote West Virginia mountain town, led by the seemingly hypnotic power of the one known as "the renderer," the prose itself is rendered by Purdy into spare, ecstatic
Paperback, 185 pages
Published August 18th 2005 by Da Capo Press (first published 1978)
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(showing 1-30 of 356)
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Robert Dunbar
Aug 29, 2012 Robert Dunbar rated it it was amazing
Purdy's work is both humbling and inspiring. He's that good. I found myself reading passages over and over, enrapt, amazed.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2012 EMM rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Narrow Rooms is the usual twisted, overwrought fun that is James Purdy. With emotions maintained in the extreme range throughout, it comes across as kind of one note unlike some of his other work which is more leavened. Populating the book are the usual characters enslaved by their emotions, choosing the path that promises the greatest pain. This is Purdyverse (I assume someone already coined that) where no one has a will of their own and everybody has to prove their love with violence. Brotherl ...more
Shane Malcolm
Sep 02, 2013 Shane Malcolm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the strangest books I have ever read, and so atmospheric. Dark, deranged, and chilling, with a visceral rendering (pardon the pun) of obsession. Not for the faint of heart, but an absolute page turner.
OMG! I'll add more later when I recover from reading this...
Aug 24, 2015 Gerhard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2015
The most forceful impression of Narrow Rooms is how politically incorrect a novel it is. In a modern age where all LGBT people are supposed to be happy, well-adjusted poster children for homo-normativity, Purdy’s novel is like a runny dog turd smeared on a hot pavement.

A gothic tour de force of lust, perversion, obsession and violence, all often on the same page, Narrow Rooms ostensibly centres on a lovers’ triangle gone wrong. To give away any more of the lurid plot, especially the ending, woul
Apr 23, 2015 Kthaeh rated it did not like it
Every so often I read a book that I cannot fault on its technical merits, but which leaves me utterly cold. Narrow Rooms is such a book. Purdy can surely write well, and tell a story skillfully. I have no problem whatsoever with the explicit sexual content. But none of the characters are people I would care to know. And the book left me with nothing but distaste for humanity. All in all, this isn't remotely what I'm looking for in my leisure reading.
May 07, 2015 Cassandra rated it liked it
I read this a number of weeks ago, and have since moved on to other books, so my thoughts on this are definitely not as profound as they could be. What I do remember, however, is that this book was a wild ride from start to finish.

My interest in this novel was initially piqued by a description which compared it to Wuthering Heights, one of my favourite books of all time. I can definitely see where this comparison is coming from, what with the renderer being consumed by a quest for vengeance bro
Sep 14, 2015 Cyndi rated it really liked it
A 1/2 kingdom for a 1/2 star.

This was a tightly woven, sparingly worded, southern gothic deliciousness.

Such utter co-dependence and the far reaching ramifications of the mental chasms created by that vortex of shit . Gods the world can be a dark, oppresive place.

Overall, 4.5 stars of tense release. A good read.

Corinna Bechko
Aug 17, 2015 Corinna Bechko rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Brutal and viciously emotional. There is no fat here, every sentence carries energy and resonates on impact.
Jo Ann
Oct 02, 2015 Jo Ann rated it did not like it
I have no enthusiasm to finish this. I don't like the characters, and I am not enjoying the story. I normally like my fiction on the darkside, but this just isn't my cup of tea.
Aug 17, 2013 S.x.x. rated it it was amazing
A writer's writer? James Purdy's tales are soap operas mixed with Monday Night Football. Narrow Rooms tells the story of the mundane, starring Gloria Swanson and Montgomery Cliff. Loved it!
Aug 02, 2008 Thatan rated it it was ok
This is a book about four insane or driven insane men's dramatic love life in rural West Virginia that culminates in a fittingly dramatic ending.

I can't really take the ending for the main character seriously. I sort of felt like the main character's brother in that I just wanted to bow out. There was a moment about part of the way though that I wanted to just put the book down and read something else because everything that was going on was so ridiculous, but I think the ending somewhat made u
Jul 20, 2015 fcrazeg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Aunque, hasta cierto punto, es un libro entretenido no deja de semejarse a Corin Tellado. Incluso en algunas partes podría compararse con esas novelas venezolanas donde en un momento X quiere a Y y odia a Z y después todo cambia hasta combinar relaciones, amores y odios. Lo 'novedoso', me imagino que para el escritor y la sociedad' es que no es un él y un ella, es un él y un él, sin embargo, ya las historias de homosexuales están tan trilladas que junto a ellas necesitan un componente más. El qu ...more
Ruby Roh
Jun 07, 2007 Ruby Roh rated it really liked it
I read this book many years ago and I still haven't been able to read the ending again. That probably says a lot about how caught up I was in the warped world of the West Virginian boys that Purdy wrote about.

I think that sometimes you come across an author whose work just resonates within, and that was the case with me and James Purdy. To me, his writing flowed easily and was a pleasure to read, even if I didn't always understand why his characters behaved the way they did.

Not the cheeriest of
Dec 06, 2014 Thomas rated it really liked it
Well-written, evocative prose, but plagued by lack of plot. I am still not sure what all happened.
E. Dade
Nov 11, 2014 E. Dade rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Trying to write a review about this book so soon after a second reading would be tantamount to using interpretive dance to articulate Doblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz. There are a handful of essays that reference Narrow Rooms (and I've read them all) but in researching my latest obsession I found out that Derek Jarman attempted to bring this heartbreaking and visceral story to the screen. I can only imagine what would have been as he took the possibility of Narrow Rooms' chance of adaptation by on ...more
Jan 14, 2016 Eric rated it liked it
It's kind of like a fucked up soap opera with occasionally really beautiful writing.
Jul 04, 2014 Brianna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq
I had a mixed reaction to this. It's well written and compelling (and probably allegorical in ways I don't even get), but it made me uncomfortable in its fantastical Othering of the queer male characters.

And I hate that it has to Represent, because a tale well told should be enough, but we haven't reached the point where we've seen enough queer characters -- nor characters who happen to be queer -- for me to not think about this.

Tim Flint
Why is this book considered a gay classic? It's just about a bunch of totally unrecognizable young gay men that are weirdly obsessed and incredibly violent to one another. I know it was written in a different era, but there's nothing I could believe about these guys.
Nov 22, 2014 Ray rated it really liked it
A beautifully written and operatically structured novel which took its characters very quickly from one wild place to one even wilder. Also a real insight for me into BDSM. And it takes place in rural West Virginia of yesteryear. Fascinating and sick--certainly makes Dennis Cooper seem derivative.

Jun 02, 2010 Evan rated it liked it
At least everything, his entire life, that is, was approaching a showdown, and he felt more exhilarated than had he smoked the best hash or grass. He was at some summit of his own self, and he was, if not happy, at last himself . . . .
Mar 03, 2009 Djrmel rated it it was amazing
- Definitely the darkest, most depressing work of Purdy's I've read (and that's saying something!). It's a love quadrangle between four men, all of them willing to use the needs of the others to get what they want.
John Cooke
May 05, 2014 John Cooke rated it it was amazing
This novel is a masterpiece. But then every novel of James Purdy's is a masterpiece ... Dark, erotic, passionate, heartbreaking, allegorical, atmospheric, lyrical, and just damn brilliant.
Matthias Williamson
Haunting, lyrical and sensual at points you wouldn't expect a book to be sensual.
Chris Bartlett
Nov 17, 2012 Chris Bartlett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A terrific book that captured my imagination.
James Alton Moody
Nov 17, 2009 James Alton Moody rated it really liked it
morbid and fascinating.
Cookonabike marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2016
Reinis Kalvins
Reinis Kalvins marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2016
Soul Rocker
Soul Rocker marked it as to-read
Feb 05, 2016
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James Otis Purdy's "dark, often savagely comic fiction evoked a psychic American landscape of deluded innocence, sexual obsession, violence and isolation." (NY Times obituary) He was an author of novels, short stories, poetry and plays. His works were controversial and often panned by critics but received praise from authors such as Edward Albee, Lillian Hellman, Dorothy Parker and Gore Vidal.

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“For imagine having somebody beside you day and night loving you and forgiving you and petting you forever and ever, that must be a better description of hell than being put into a boiling lake or cauldron of ice that burnt your black.” 1 likes
“Nobody can cause another man evil unless the second party involved allows him to.” 0 likes
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