Stephen Dixon, Prolific Writer of Experimental Fiction, Dies at 83


“There have been times when I’ve had the feeling he was leaning over my shoulder, giving me approval and directing my prose,” he told The Baltimore Sun in 2007.

Mr. Dixon advanced his literary education with a fellowship at Stanford University in 1963 and published his first story that year in The Paris Review. Fiction began to flow from his typewriter; he wrote for major magazines like Esquire and Playboy and for literary reviews and journals, none of them too obscure for him to send pitches to.

In a review of two of Mr. Dixon’s books in The Times in 1999, the novelist Vince Passaro recalled working years earlier as a reader at Antaeus magazine, where he would see story submissions from Mr. Dixon arrive regularly “in worn envelopes, hastily addressed,” with torn pieces of paper that were signed, “Here’s my latest, Stephen.”

“If you didn’t know who he was,” Mr. Passaro wrote, “you would have thought of him as an inmate with typewriter privileges, a desperate voice behind prison or asylum walls, so driven and copious was the prose.”

Mr. Dixon drew inspiration for his writing from his marriage to Anne Frydman, a poet, translator and Chekhov scholar who died of complications of multiple sclerosis in 2009, and his brother Don, whose death when a tree fell on him in 2002 is echoed in the freakish death of one of two brothers in “Phone Rings” (2005).

In addition to his daughter Sophia, Mr. Dixon is survived by another daughter, Antonia Dixon Frydman; a grandson; and his sisters, Marguerite Franco and Pat Dixon.

Mr. Dixon continued to write until recently, despite the effects of Parkinson’s and arthritis.

In “80,” the story published in Heavy Feather Review, he described an old man with wispy white hair, a pot belly and yearnings for a woman, looking at the day ahead at 3 a.m. He will do what he’s done for 60 years, as Mr. Dixon had done for about that long: write.

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