James Fogle, a thief and addict who committed real crimes, then turned them into fiction in his novel “Drugstore Cowboy,” which became an acclaimed film, died Thursday in the infirmary ward of the Washington State Reformatory in Monroe, Wash. He was 75.
The cause was malignant mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer, the Snohomish County medical examiner’s office said.
Mr. Fogle grew up in Olympia, Wash., stole his first car at age 12 and was serving time in a juvenile facility by the time he was a teenager. His mother told interviewers that she regretted not having intervened when his father beat him. He began writing early, but he was nearly 40 before his work caught the eye of someone who could promote it beyond prison walls.
Daniel Yost, a freelance writer who shared screenwriting credit on “Drugstore Cowboy” with the film’s director, Gus Van Sant, said in an interview on Monday that Thomas E. Gaddis, the author of “Birdman of Alcatraz,” received an unsolicited novel in the mail in 1973 from an inmate serving time in Walla Walla, Wash.
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