At 22, Elizabeth Cullinan started her career with a junior job at The New Yorker. Her mission was to write manuscripts from literary lions such as John Updike, James Thurber, and E.B. white.
Perhaps that is the muscle memory of all that writing, but she soon writes stories herself – of the quality of a New Yorker – and compares her to Chekov and Joyce. The magazine began publishing in 1960.
By the time Mrs. Cullinan died on January 26 in 86, her author consisted of two volumes of short stories, most of which appeared in The New Yorker, in addition to two novels, “The House of Gold” (1970) and “Changing the Scene” (1982).
She did not become well known, but her relatively modest director had been highly acclaimed by critics.
“Miss Cullinan is always smart, subtle and skilled,” wrote Joyce Carroll Oates in the New York Times book magazine in 1971, as she turns into stories of near-error literalism. “
Times critic critic John Leonard wrote to her, “When you can say in eight pages unless most of the novelists are able to say it at all, despite the intense breathing, you are a first-class writer.” He said that her story, “A Story in the Key of C”, “sparkles with such love that it sums up is its staining.”
Mrs. Cullinan trained her meticulously on the details of the human condition, which she noticed as her characters sought to conquer each other – and their past – in tense family conditions and even strangled her.
“House of Gold”, which won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award, is a portrait of an Irish middle-class middle-class Catholic family gathering for the death of the pre-Vatican II reign.
“What’s so impressive” about the novel, Richard M. Elman He wrote in The New York Times Book Review, “It is his complete devotion to the ordinary, to the sensation, the event, the process, and the details: the feeling of cold water filtering against the wrists on a rough day; the way the sweat rises on the blades of the shoulder against the dress of the little girl; the strange sterilization of the eyes A shiny blue nun; or a little bad smell on the cheek of death. “
Her short stories, “The Time of Adam” (1971) and “Yellow Roses” (1977), included all 23 stories that were published in The New Yorker, as well as other publications elsewhere.
Irish subjects – including Muslim mothers, ritual daughters and Catholic rituals – permeate Mrs. Cullin’s work, often grappling with issues of Irish-American identity, although her writing as a whole goes beyond easy classification.
Her heroes were usually young women who rejected their mothers’ examples of home life, pursued careers and made hostile lives in secular Manhattan.
In the movie “The Sum and Substance”, a story of “Yellow Roses”, Ellen McGuire is in the hospital to remove an ovarian cyst. While suffering from painful pain, her mother appears with a jar of face cream. When Eileen says she doesn’t care how she looks, her mother answers, “You are my dear.”
Ms. Cullinan helped redefine Irish-American literature, moving away from the masculine traditions of “heads of followers and adherents, older political reformers, social life and father-father relations”, Patricia Coglan, who studied Irish literature at University College Cork, Written in an article 2017 In the Irish Times.
“With a calm but steady irony, she resists the assumptions that a woman’s interests and experience are complementary to those of men,” Ms. Coughlan wrote.
Friends described Mrs. Cullinan as being disciplined, humble and special. However, while dealing with difficult subjects, she was often playful, and even comical, especially in her portrayal of the intricacies of interpersonal relationships.
Her friend Thomas Cahill, author of “How Irish Civilization Was Saved” (1995), said in an interview: “All of her characters were based on real people, and if you know them, you can get to know them.”
He added: “She was not terribly dominant.” “I noticed light and darkness alike.”
Elizabeth Irene Cullinan was born on June 7, 1933, in Bronx to Cornelius and Irene (O’Connell) Cullinan. Her father worked in insurance, Her mother was a housewife and a piano teacher.
Elizabeth attended the Mount Ursula Academy in the Bronx and received a scholarship to Marymount College in Manhattan, from which she graduated in 1954.
The following year, she got her first job, in The New Yorker printing group.
Ms. Coughlan wrote that the work was a short geographical distance from her home, “but cultural worlds are far from her relatively unimpressive, religious, and largely anti-intellectual childhood of bronze.”
In The New Yorker, Mrs. Cullinan was a secretary to William Maxwell, one of the magazine’s fictional editors, whom she considered a mentor.
“Working for William Maxwell was like nothing else in this world except reading his novels,” she wrote. “He made me a writer.”
After the magazine published three of Mrs. Cullin’s stories, Mr. Maxwell told her to “go and become a writer,” and she did. From 1961 to 1963 she lived in Ireland, where she wrote “The House of Gold”, and considered it her most important work.
Back in New York, I continued writing. Over the years, she received grants from the National Arts Fund and the Carnegie Endowment. She taught at Fordham University, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and the Iowa Book Workshop at the University of Iowa.
In 2015 she moved to Towson, Maryland, to be closer to her daughters. She died in the retirement community there. Her niece, Claire Hartman He said the cause was lung disease.
She was saved by a sister, Margaret Marie Cullinan. Another sister, Claire Cullinan Hartman, died in 2010.
Mrs. Cullinan recently completed a third novel, “Starting from scratch,” which is a fictional account of her days as a young secretary in The New Yorker.