DAVID MADDEN’s work on James M. Cain began in an American studies seminar when he was a John Golden Fellow in playwriting at Yale Drama School in 1959. Out of his work on Cain evolved five other books: Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties and Proletarian Writers of the Thirties, still in print after two decades; Nathanael West: The Cheaters and the Cheated; Cain’s Craft; and he is completing The Fable of James M. Cain, in which he employs an innovative approach to the art of biography.
Much of Madden’s criticism has been innovative or has dealt with relatively new areas of study. He wrote the first book on Wright Morris. He helped pioneer studies in popular culture with his books on tough guy writers, his pictorial comparison on Commedia dell’arte and silent slapstick movies, and his textbook The Popular Culture Explosion, edited with Ray B. Browne. Rediscoveries is a favorite of rare book collectors. Remembering James Agee had an appealing quality rare among books on writers. Writer’s Revisions is a contribution to a rather new field of study; and A Primer of the Novel satisfies a recognized need. He is now completing Revising Fiction, a handbook for writers for New American Library.
Madden is best-known for his fiction—Bijou, The Suicide’s Wife, and four other novels. His stories are collected in The Shadow Knows and The New Orleans of Possibilities. He is at work on Sharpshooter, a Civil War novel that bears little resemblance to other fiction in that genre.
Since 1968, David Madden has been writer-in-residence at Louisiana State University.