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Peter De Vries; Humorist for New Yorker

<i> From Associated Press</i>

Peter De Vries, the New Yorker writer who parodied everything from feminism to religion and everyone from fellow suburbanites to fellow authors, has died. He was 83.

De Vries, who died Tuesday, published 26 novels.

He was once described by British author Kingsley Amis as the “funniest serious writer to be found either side of the Atlantic.”

One of De Vries’ best-known books, “The Tunnel of Love,” was published in 1954. It told the story of Augie Poole, an unsuccessful cartoonist who cultivated all the vices of a great artist in the hope that some of the talent would also rub off.

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De Vries later collaborated on a hit Broadway version of the book, and it was later made into a movie.

Although De Vries targeted human foibles, he always insisted that he was a humorist, not a satirist, said his daughter, Jan De Vries.

“He said, ‘The difference is, satirists shoot to kill; the humorist allows his prey to escape--possibly to be hunted another day,’ ” she said.

De Vries, who attended church several times a week as a child, passed up the ministry to be a writer, much to his parents’ dismay. When he published a poem in Esquire magazine early in his career, they promised not to tell anyone.

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“They thought it was something to be furtive about,” his daughter said.

De Vries was hired as associate editor of Poetry magazine in 1939; he published his first novel, “But Who Wakes the Bugler?” the following year.

At James Thurber’s suggestion, De Vries moved to New York and began writing for the New Yorker in 1944.

He retired in 1986 when his health began to fail.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by two sons, Jon and Derek.


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