(African-American expatriate Bill Demby narrates his attem...)
African-American expatriate Bill Demby narrates his attempts to write a novel about his friend Doris, a black actor currently working in Europe. Utterly dependent upon Doris for the development of his novel, he is both a participant in and observer of her life as she enters into an affair with an Italian count. Bill Demby's growing emotional and artistic involvement in the tumultuous affair of his character/friend leads him on an existential quest for the meaning of truth and fiction, both lived and created, in a world torn by the social upheaval of the early sixties.
He studied briefly at West Virginia State University but was drafted into an African-American cavalry unit that was deployed to North Africa and Italy during World War Two. After the war he graduated from Fisk University in Nashville in 1947.
His family later moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia. During his military service he contributed to the Army publication Stars and Stripes. The couple had a son, James Gabriele Demby, in 1955, who composes and teaches music in Italy.
Lucia Drudi died in 1995.
During his decades living in Rome, Demby worked for many important Italian film directors, among them Federico Fellini, translating Italian screenplays and films into English. He was assistant director of dialogue on Roberto Rossellini"s film Europa 51 starring Ingrid Bergman.
He also wrote for various American magazines, among them The Reporter. In Italy, he wrote his first, existentialist, novel, Beetlecreek (1950), and then his second, more experimental novel, The Catacombs (1965).
Later in life, he reconnected with Barbara Morris, whom he knew from his time at Fisk University.
Morris was a former lawyer with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the two married in 2004. Demby began teaching English in 1969 at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York), where he worked until the late 1980s. Demby published his third novel, Love Story Black, in 1978 on Reed, Cannon and Johnson.
He returned to Italy often, spending time in Rome, and in a villa in Tuscany, where he lived for nearly a decade from the late 80s until the late 90s.
Demby spent his final years in Sag Harbor, New New York His last novel, King Comus, was finished in 2007, but remains unpublished. William Demby died in Sag Harbor, Long Island, New York, on May 23, 2013.