Francois Camoin

François André Camoin

By Shelley Hunt and Christine

François André Camoin was born in Nice, France, in 1939. He spent his early years reading forbidden continental classics in his grandmother’s basement in occupied France, then moved to England after the war. He emigrated with his mother and stepfather to the U.S. in 1951. Some colleagues might not know that Camoin’s first love was photography, but his life took a ravishing literary shape instead and pursued his passion for the camera lens on the side. He received in B.A. in English (1964) and an M.A. in English (1965) from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Jacobean Drama at the University of Massachusetts in 1967. He became an assistant professor of English at the University of Utah in English 1977, an associate professor in 1983, and a full professor in 1987, teaching creative writing, modern literature, and intellectual traditions of the West. During that time, he won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction in 1985 and an NEA grant. In 1995 he was recognized with the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Artist Award and in 2004 he won the Utah Humanities Council Grant. His works include April, May, and So On, Like Love But Not Exactly, Deadly Virtues,  Why Men Are Afraid of Women, The End of the World Is Los Angeles, Benbow and Paradise and The Revenge Convention in Webster, Middleton and Tourneur. His memoir is forthcoming.

The writer Steve Almond called him a literary giant, describing his prose as “fearless, exalted, precise” in his rendering of “absurd comic moments within tragic circumstances.” Camoin spent a lifetime in the arts, inspiring students to lean into the arts for solace, for love, for intellectual satiation, and for a conversation with literature itself. The question that both haunted and enthralled him was how those locked in a system that opposes truth and non-truth as its gatekeepers still insist on preserving these categories, while challenging what he saw as “diminutive representations of the world” to talk about truth in new ways. His students, in whom he inspired a passionate curiosity and interest in craft, will remember him always as the man who transformed them and who gave them questions to live by.

François André Camoin died on March 18, 2019, surrounded by family and friends full of gratitude for a life well-lived, as he had often said he hoped he would.

Quotes from Steve Almond’s article, “Camoin among the Savages” in Tablet, Book Reviews section, published May 17, 2007.

Works

Bibliography

  • Why Men are Afraid of Women: Stories, University of Georgia Press, 2013
  • April, May, and So On, What Books Press, 2009
  • Baby Please Don’t Go: Collected Stories, 1979-2001, Doublewide Press, 2001
  • Like Love, But Not Exactly, University of Missouri Press, 1992
  • Deadly Virtues, Arrowood Books, 1988
  • The End of the World is Los Angeles, University of Missouri Press, 1982
  • Benbow and Paradise, Dutton, 1975