Tracy Kidder

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Tracy Kidder (born November 12, 1945 in New York City) is an American author and Vietnam War veteran. Kidder may be best known, especially within the computing community, for his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine, an account of the development of Data General's Eclipse/MV minicomputer. The book typifies his distinctive style of research. He began following the project at its inception and, in addition to interviews, spent considerable time observing the engineers at work and outside of it. Using this perspective he was able to produce a more textured portrait of the development process than a purely retrospective study might.


TRACY KIDDER,  by Elaine Hines:

Tracy Kidder '63 writes of elemental things-work (The Soul of a New Machine), home (House), old age (Old Friends), education (Among Schoolchil-dren) and community (Home Town). He writes big by writing small, grabbing the reader by focusing on the thousand daily details of one company, one house, one friendship, one schoolroom, one town.

"I'm a little suspicious of the great, overarching view. It always leaves something out," says Kidder. "What interests me is trying to catch the reflection of the human being on the page. I'm interested in how ordinary people live their lives."

In capturing how ordinary people live their lives, Kidder also captures what lies beneath the surface, beyond the edges. Recognized as one of America's leading writers of non-fiction, Kidder has won numerous literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award.


Tracy Kidder:

I first met Tracy when he was staying at my house in 1981 or so. I was eleven and he was writing a book about my Dad. That was more or less all I knew. Later on, I learned that Tracy's editor, Richard Todd, had been my dad's college roommate at Amherst College and it all started to make more sense. Tracy slept on our couch on weekends -- the only time my Dad was really home -- messed about with us in the basement carrying his steno pad, and generally was fun to have around. There was a party at my house when the book came out and all the computer engineers that I had read about were smoking pot in my basement. When the book won a Pulitzer, my Dad became very well-known and the phone rang all the time. People were talking about making a movie. I talked about this in junior high and got resoundly laughed at. My parents split up. My Dad would still go sailing with Tracy and Dick Todd from time to time as Tracy wrote more books and got more well known.

I ran into Tracy at the UW where he was reading from his new book, Hometown. He was suprised to see me and we chatted for a bit. He said that he didn't even have email and had just barely surfed the web. I told him I was working mainly doing web design and online research. He gave a great reading, managing to sound humble and thoughful in the face of a not very full house and silly questions.

I figured if he ever does get on the Internet and look himself up -- as we all do eventually -- he'll have something fun here to find. I tried to make my links fairly comprehensive but these pages are otherwise low on content. Please send me any more links you come up with.

Jessamyn West  <>

The Soul Goes marching on?