Author Louis Auchincloss chronicled America’s patricians

  • Thu Jan 28th, 2010 5:31am
  • News

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Louis Auchincloss, a prolific author of fiction and nonfiction whose dozens of books imparted sober, firsthand knowledge of America’s patrician class, has died. He was 92,

The author’s grandson said Wednesday that Auchincloss died Tuesday, after suffering a stroke.

He wrote more than 50 books and crafted such accomplished works as the novel “The Rector of Justin” and the memoir “A Writer’s Capital,” not to mention biographies, literary criticism and short stories. He was a four-time fiction finalist for the National Book Award, his nominated novels including “The Embezzler” and “The House of Five Talents.”

“I’m rather inclined to be edgy when I’m not writing,” Auchincloss said in 1994. “In (a) … book on Jack Kennedy, it says he told (British) Prime Minister (Harold) Macmillan that if he didn’t have a girl every three days he’d get headaches. I thought that was rather extreme, but writing is little bit like that for me.”

For subject matter, Auchincloss followed the advice of Henry James: “Do New York. The firsthand account is precious.” Auchincloss documented an exclusive, influential world of which he was both member and critic. Readers were taken into boardrooms, country clubs, summer homes at Bar Harbor, dinner parties on Fifth Avenue.

On Wednesday, Gore Vidal praised Auchincloss as a friend whose literary subject was unique. “Nobody else took those kinds of people, because nobody else understood them, except in the dumbest way,” Vidal said.