Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Charyn, Jerome

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(1937-    ) US writer who from the start has used New York, where he was born, as a venue for increasingly mythopoeic Fabulations in novels like Once Upon a Droshky (1964), The Catfish Man: A Conjured Life (1980) – which transmutes autobiography into fantasy – and the much more panoramic Panna Maria (1982). Though these novels rarely extend into explicit impossibilities, and their protagonists' frequent Perception of supernatural agencies rarely requires a literal reading, it can be argued that the New York JC creates, rather like Isaac Bashevis Singer's Poland – the tales assembled in JC's The Man Who Grew Younger (coll 1967) show Singer's deep influence – has been so transformed and heightened that it constitutes a stage for genuine Urban Fantasies. The series of hallucinatory detective novels for which JC has become most widely recognized, the Secret Isaac sequence – Blue Eyes (1975), Marilyn the Wild (1976), The Education of Patrick Silver (1976) and Secret Isaac (1978), all assembled as The Isaac Quartet (omni 1984 UK), plus The Good Policeman (1990), Maria's Girls (1992) and Montezuma's Man (1993) – is also set in New York, where Isaac Sidel, a wounded Magus figure, serves as Commissioner of Police. Elsinore (1991) shares the same venue and the same sense of implausibility constantly teetering on the edge of impossibility, but never quite falling in.

Eisenhower, My Eisenhower (1971) slips into hallucinatory futurity, and Darlin' Bill (1980) is a hallucinated Western (see also Hallucination). Pinocchio's Nose (1983) (see Real Boy) similarly transfigures the 21st century. Also of fantasy interest are several Graphic Novels, all first published in French: The Magician's Wife (graph 1986 Belgium; first English-language version 1987 US) with artist François Boucq; Billy Budd, K.G.B. (graph trans Elizabeth Bell 1991); and Margot in Bad Town (graph trans 1992). [JC]

Jerome Charyn


This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.