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William Derry Eastlake Edit Profile

novelist

William Derry Eastlake, American author. Decorated Bronze Star; recipient Les Lettres Nouvelles award for best foreign novel public in France, 1972; Ford Foundation grantee, 1963; Rockefeller Foundation grantee, 1966, 67; subject of spring 1983 issue Review Contemporary Fiction.

Background

Eastlake, William Derry was born on July 14, 1917 in New York City. Son of Gordon and Charlotte (Bradley) Eastlake.

Education

Student, Alliance Française, Paris, 1948-1950;Doctor of Laws, University Albuquerque, 1970.

Career

His Checkerboard Trilogy, consisting of the works , The , and was included by literary critic Larry McCaffery in his list of the 20th Century's Greatest Hits: 100 English-Language Books of Fiction. In the early 1940s, he worked at the Stanley Rose Bookstore in Los Angeles, California, which was a literary hangout for writers Nathanael West, Clifford Odets, Theodore Dreiser, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck et al. He also worked as a reporter, covering the story of a lynching in Mississippi, where he visited writer William Faulkner.

In 1942, Eastlake joined the U.S. Army, and was stationed at Camp MacArthur and Camp Ord in California, followed by Camp White in Oregon. After the Pearl Harbor Attack, all Japanese draftees in the U.S. Army were sent to Camp Ord, where Eastlake was given the job of "looking after them", writing "I never knew a more pro-American, patriotic group than those Japanese-American soldiers." Eastlake would obligingly take photographs of them to send to their relatives "in the euphemistic 'relocation' camps." Eventually the troops were placed into a separate combat unit and sent off to war. His frustration and anger over this experience are portrayed in his first novel Ishimoto's Land, which remains unpublished.

"The publishers told me it was too early for a book about this American tragedy. The public is not ready for it yet." Later Eastlake was transferred to a reinforcement company in England, where his job was "to process and instruct" newly arrived troops, including acclimatizing them to British customs. His outfit then landed at Omaha Beach, after which he fought in France and Belgium, and was a platoon leader when wounded in the right shoulder in the 1944 Battle of the Bulge, receiving a steel plate that hampered movement of his arm.

After the war ended, Eastlake accepted an invitation to join an army buddy in Switzerland and start a small literary magazine. Unfortunately, the backer withdrew support after only one issue, so the Eastlakes moved to Paris, where Martha had lived once before as an art student. The literary magazine Essai contains Eastlake's first published story, Ishimoto's Land.

In 1955 he and Rose bought a 400-acre ranch in the Jemez Mountains near Cuba, New Mexico, which became a mecca for writers Julian Huxley, Edward Abbey, Robert Creeley et al.

Works

Views

Eastlake's 1965 book Castle Keep, about U.S. soldiers trying to defend a Belgian castle filled with art treasures during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge was made into the 1969 movie Castle Keep, directed by Sydney Pollack, starring Burt Lancaster, Patrick O'Neal, Jean-Pierre Aumont, Bruce Dern, and Peter Falk.

Membership

Served with infantry Army of the United States, World World War II, European Theatre of Operations. Member Writers Guild, Author's Guild, Poets, Playwrights, Editors, Essayists and Novelists association, American Association of University Professors.

Connections

father:
Gordon Eastlake

mother:
Charlotte (Bradley) Eastlake