I was excited to read that Gargoyle, DC’s oldest literary magazine, celebrated its 40th anniversary, and I’m proud that I worked with its founder and editor, Richard Peabody, a couple of times over the years. That sort of puts me in the company of MacArthur Fellows, National Book Award winners, Pulitzer Prize winners, and other literary luminaries. Tara Campbell published her book blog about the celebration in Washington Independent Review of Books on October 9, 2017.
Melissa Scholes Young, the event host, described Richard as the literary godfather of DC.
Tara Campbell writes:
MFA student Vince Granata kicked off the event with an illuminating overview of Gargoyle’s establishment in 1976, its reputation as a “scallywag, maverick” publication, its description in the Post as “Washington’s most revered and irreverent” literary magazine, and Peabody’s explanation in an interview that Gargoyle has never been bound by specific editorial guidelines because “[w]e don’t believe in them.”
She adds, “Ah, Gargoyle, always piquing our interest with something a little offbeat.”
I met Richard in 2006 when he agreed to edit my Vietnam War satire, Cologne No. 10 For Men. He helped me cut that book in half–eliminating poignant intellectual discussions and sidebars unrelated to the story–and placed the most offbeat passage he could find right at the beginning.
When it was published, he gave me a blurb: “I love the way Wilfred recycles the bodies. That’s fabulous stuff with a direct line to Heller’s Catch-22 and perfectly captures the insanity of the Vietnam War.” — Richard Peabody, editor, Gargoyle Magazine.
A year later, in 2008, he included a chapter from Cologne No. 10 For Men in his Stress City anthology. It begins,
They sat in the twilight watching wisps of fog rising from the glassy lake. “It’s becoming clearer to me now, Robbie. What we need to create is the functional equivalent of war: everything except the killing.”
“You mean the illusion of war.”
“Yes,” Wilfred said, astounded at Reckert’s clarity. . . .
Writer’s Digest described Cologne No. 10 For Men as “a truly superb novel of the Vietnam war, a novel that compares favorably with those earlier “dark humor” war novels such as CATCH-22 and M.A.S.H. The writing crackles with authenticity.” Kirkus Reviews called it “A funny and serviceable satire about the gross rationalizations that propel war and peace.” “. . . like Catch-22 or M.A.S.H. . . .carries echoes of Tim O’Brien’s similarly toned The Things They Carried.“ And David Willson, Books in Review II, The Vietnam Veterans of America Veteran commented, “There aren’t very many funny Vietnam War infantry books. This is one of them. Read it and be amazed.” Click here for more on the illusions and delusions in the war.
I wasn’t at Richard’s 40th anniversary celebration of Gargoyle Magazine at American University, but I’m glad to see him honored in this way, and I will always be grateful to him for helping me along the way. Thanks, Richard!