Thinking about Albany, New York, with its rich cultural scene, being the capitol of the state, and an exciting night life where the bars stay open until 4 am, it’s still impossible to forget William Kennedy . He’s put the city on the literary map, and has made readers all over the world familiar with the place. It has an incredible history. Beneath the glitz of the contemporary moment, where Albany luxury hotels draw visitors every year to enjoy the present, there are multitudes of other histories.
Many of these have been recounted in his Albany Cycle, which many critics have compared to James Joyce and what he’s done for Dublin. The novel that got the attention really rolling was Ironweed , which won him the Pulitzer Prize, and also became a film that earned oscars for both Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. He also wrote the screenplay. This novel was extremely astute about the human condition, and the possibility for redemption. The careful attention to detail portrayed a much grimmer time in the history of Albany. All of his works about the city take on the larger themes of fiction, where transformation comes at a great cost, and where moments of compassion can spin the world on a dime.