Confessions of a Nowaday Child

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Tough Poets Press
Publish Date
5.83 X 8.27 X 0.25 inches | 0.0 pounds
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About the Author

Erje Ayden was born Erce Aydiner in Istanbul, Turkey, in 1936. He began his high school studies at Robert College, a private American boys' school in Istanbul where the language of instruction was English. He was expelled after two years, "unable to learn English," according to the school's administrator. In 1956, he moved to Greenwich Village in New York City where he took on a series of menial jobs and was eventually accepted into the bohemian art and literary circles, establishing close friendships with painter Willem de Kooning, poets Frank O'Hara and John Ashbery, critic Seymour Krim, and playwright Paddy Chayefsky, among others. In the early 1960s, Ayden began writing in English. His first book, the self-published collection titled The Harbor of Whales and Other Short Stories, "attracted some attention in 1963 as an imaginative start for a very young author grappling with his newly adopted language." (Talat Halman, Princeton University) This was followed by the novel The Crazy Green of Second Avenue. Published in 1965, it quickly became an underground bestseller in New York City, selling out its first two printings of more than 10,000 copies in just a matter of weeks. A translation of The Crazy Green, along with his third novel, From Hauptbahnhof I Took a Train (1966), became the subject of an obscenity trial in his native Turkey in 2002. In defense of Ayden's works, Marvin Taylor, Director of the Fales Library at New York University, provided the following statement to the court: "I believe Mr. Ayden's work to be of the highest quality and essential for understanding the human condition in the late 20th century." The books' publisher, Bedri Baykam, was ultimately acquitted of all charges. In a 2009 letter to Turkish writer Selçuk Altun, Ayden wrote that "from 1959 to 1984 [he] was a member of a certain NATO country's counterespionage group in the United States [whose] job was to catch Soviet spies." Certainly, spying figures prominently throughout Ayden's later work. His 1972 novel, Sadness at Leaving: An Espionage Romance, relates the story of a European secret agent who, sent to New York City to track down and assassinate a defector, lives undercover as a writer and editor. Variety magazine reported in 1998 that a film adaptation of the novel, with Richard Gere in the lead role, was in development. However, it never came to fruition. Ayden passed away in 2013. In his later years, he suffered from progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare and incurable brain disorder. He is survived by his third wife, Elisabeth (Lisa) Holm, a Finnish-born textile designer with whom he spent the last 28 years of his life.