Jonathan Dee Reads from his new novel A Thousand Pardons
@ Bookcourt, Tuesday Night
Last night at Bookcourt the buy cialis 20mg masterful Jonathan Dee graced us with his presence and a passage from his very newly research papers for sale published novel (and by that I mean the publishing date was, in fact, yesterday) A Thousand Pardons. Despite the fog and the downpour, a few faithful fans gathered to hear the celebrated author. “So I’m just going to read briefly from the beginning of the novel, it should need no introduction,” Dee began, to which a woman in the audience pleaded, “Does it have to be brief?” Brief though it was, the passage was rich with economy, intrigue, and skill that far surpassed its length.
This first bit drops the reader into the seeming brink of a declining marriage.
The Armsteads have been together for eighteen years, have a preteen daughter named Sara, and lead a seemingly privileged life. Yet Ben’s ongoing depression and the couple’s rapidly deteriorating communication threaten the life they have built together, to the point of a great unraveling. Dee delves into the question of forgiveness in this trenchant narrative, as his characters explore their own capacities for forgiveness, and what exactly do we want when we ask for forgiveness?
Asked after the reading who influences him in his writing, Dee answered “I feel that each book has its own influences in a way, a book that was actually a big influence both on The Privileges and A Thousand Pardons is James M. Cain, The Postman Always Rings Twice. It’s a magnificent novel just in terms of economy, of how fast things are made to happen at no real cost to psychology. And in the case of The Privileges it had to do with ways to make you see the world the way another character does, even if you really don’t want to.” He went on to say that for him, plot is tied strongly to his sense of the characters, rather than his sole personal views on things like the institution of the marriage and so forth. I found this point particularly interesting, the challenge and joy of truly adopting a character’s point of view, however uncomfortable, and as a result asking the reader to crane their neck with you to look through the lens.
Jonathan Dee is the acclaimed author of five previous novels, most recently The Privileges, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the 2011 Prix Fitzgerald and the St. Francis College Literary Prize. He is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, a National Magazine Award–nominated literary critic for Harper’s, a former senior editor of The Paris Review, and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter.