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Richard P. Brickner (1933–2006)

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Short biography
Published: May 21, 2006

Richard P. Brickner, a novelist, memoirist and critic known for his fictional and nonfictional explorations of an automobile accident that left him permanently paralyzed, died on May 12 at his home in Manhattan. He was 72.

The cause was cardiac disease, said his brother, Philip W. Brickner.

Mr. Brickner's memoir, "My Second Twenty Years: An Unexpected Life" (Basic Books, 1976), recounted the aftermath of the accident, which took place shortly after his 20th birthday, when he was a student at Middlebury College. Mr. Brickner, who was paralyzed from the chest down, used a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Reviewing the book in The New York Times, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote, "What 'My Second Twenty Years' explores far more profoundly than the melodrama of winning out over physical adversity are the subtle colorations of the universal human self."

Richard Pilpel Brickner was born in Manhattan on May 14, 1933. From 1951 to 1953, he attended Middlebury; after his accident, he resumed his education at Columbia, earning a bachelor's degree in 1957.

His first novel, "The Broken Year" (Doubleday, 1962), was a fictional account of his injury. The book was adapted for television in 1963 as an episode of "Alcoa Premiere Theater," starring Keir Dullea, George Kennedy and Shirley Knight.

Mr. Brickner's love of opera and the theater was reflected in two novels with cultural settings, "Bringing Down the House" (Scribner, 1971) and "Tickets" (Simon & Schuster, 1981). His most recent book was the novel "After She Left" (Holt, 1988).

A former editor at Doubleday, Mr. Brickner taught writing at the New School for Social Research and at City College of New York. He was a frequent contributor to The New York Times Book Review.

In addition to his brother, of the Bronx, Mr. Brickner is survived by a sister, Marian Brickner, of St. Louis.
Disambiguation notice


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