Lee Durkee is the author of the novels Rides of the Midway (WW Norton, 2000) and The Last Taxi Driver (Tin House Books, 2020). His stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Sun, The Best of the Oxford American, Zoetrope: All Story, Tin House, & Mississippi Noir. In 2021 Scribner will publish Stalking Shakespeare, a memoir about Lee’s obsession with trying to find lost portraits of William Shakespeare. He lives in North Mississippi.
RECENT & UPCOMING BOOKS (2):
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THE LAST TAXI DRIVER IN THE APRIL 2020 ISSUE OF HARPER’S MAGAZINE
THE CHICAGO REVIEW OF BOOKS (March 9, 2020): “In THE LAST TAXI DRIVER, one would not, at first glance, assume an Elizabethan dramatic structure at play in the life of an unlikely hero, Lou Bishoff, a hammy Buddhist cab driver who specializes in transporting thugs, addicts, ex-cons, and eccentrics around the fictional town Gentry, Mississippi. However, much of what makes Lee Durkee’s novel so delightful and surprising is his ability to dig beneath the surface of this funny, well-told odyssey, which channels a Shakespearean tragedy . . . As we cut into the marrow of his character, in an oddly effective move, we get closest to Lou by losing trust in him as he becomes unhinged. By removing his defenses, his humor and candor, we see who Lou really is, and what drives him. The result is Durkee’s cathartic achievement. . . . Durkee’s prose hits the right pitch. Told from Lou’s perspective, it’s a casual, voice-driven read with smart intimate humor. We’re sitting right between Lou’s eyes, rolling into his head with funny memories like the passage above that show more than just a rag-tag cabbie with a witty sensibility. . . . Falling at a quiet rate, Lou’s transformation is not noticeable at first. Durkee takes his time and carefully shifts the plane to a fogged reality that unwraps Lou’s destiny.”
THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER (Feb 27, 2020): “When a novel is called a “must-read,” it often means that it has become an upper-class status symbol. . . . So it feels wrong to call Lee Durkee’s The Last Taxi Driver a must-read novel. This book is actively antagonistic to the soft-spoken literature that is pumped straight from academic writing programs into the upscale corners of Brooklyn. At the same time, it’s hard not to call The Last Taxi Driver a must-read — simply because it’s one of the best novels in recent memory. . . . The story moves at a frenetic pace, and the introduction of a gun toward the third act creates a sense of urgency. But at heart, the novel is driven by Lou’s wildly compelling voice. . . . The combination of highbrow references and lowlife characters is reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree and makes The Last Taxi Driver a comic masterpiece. . . . The Last Taxi Driver is a wild and hilarious ride filled with dirty jokes. . . . Behind the dark comedy, The Last Taxi Driver is a dead-serious reminder that virtue is a lifelong struggle. Which is why it’s such a wonderful book, one of the best to come along.”
AND COMING OUT FROM SCRIBNER IN 2021:
AWARDED THE MISSISSIPPI ART COMMISSION GRANT FOR NONFICTION IN 2020
Moving portrait by portrait, STALKING SHAKESPEARE documents the scandalous history of Shakespeare portraits and the author’s maniacal attempts to time travel through layers of paint back into the world of the Elizabethan occult.
AVAILABLE FROM W.W. NORTON: