Trailer Park Nirvana image created by Stefany Kleeschulte.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Author Crush - Pete Dexter

I could weep.

It's love. Unrequited love. He doesn't even know I exist (unless the postmistress forwarded my fan letter). And he's married. And his wife seems really nice. But still, just a few minutes alone with this man...would that be a blessing or a curse? Would my craving be satisfied or would I want more?

It's this that's got my heart a'flutterin' and my spirits weighted and soaring at the same time: A review in the NY Times of Jim Harrison's new book, The Great Leader, by Pete Dexter.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I've never been able to get through a Jim Harrison novel. Being from the Pacific Northwest that's kind of sacrilegious, I know. But when I saw that the review of his new book was written by Pete Dexter I headed to the NY Times website to give it a look.

Jesus, I love Pete Dexter's voice, his writing style, his humor, his point of view. I'd read anything by him - even a review of a book I don't think I'm interested in. And then there's this synchronistic bit. I'm reading William Goldman's book Adventures in the Screen Trade and I'm smack-dab in the middle of the chapter on auteurs and the whole concept of the director as creator/author of the movie and then - whack! - I read this in Pete Dexter's review of The Great Leader:

I know enough about literature now to foresee that Jim Harrison’s new novel, “The Great Leader,” will be easier than the Bible was to option to the movies. For one thing, there will be fewer producers claiming they developed the material, and for another the protagonist has a more accessible arc. Possibly you are thinking that I haven’t learned my lesson, but trust me: I don’t have to be at that meeting to know what everybody is going to say.

This is exactly the kind of stuff Goldman's writing about. And that damn character arc - the thing I've been thinking about a lot lately. Do characters have to grow? Can't they be just as fucked up in the end as they were in the beginning?

It's obvious that Pete Dexter is one of my soulmates (along with Ken Bruen and Luis Urrea). For instance, he writes in this review that he generally skips dream sequences in novels - as do I! (that's meant to be read like the Priceline ad currently running with William Shatner). (Shit, Mr. Dexter doesn't like references to popular culture.)

When I started reading the review I was too infatuated with Pete Dexter's writing to care much about the subject. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jim Harrison, can't get through him, blah blah blah, but the reviewer (I'm trying to get away from using "Pete Dexter" three times in one small paragraph) managed to make me interested in the book. I may just give Mr. Harrison another try. It'll give me something to do while I wait for Pete Dexter's next book.


  1. Any Pete Dexter recommendations for your favorites?

  2. yo dg...i liked all his early stuff which are generally pretty dark (did you ever see the movie "Paris Trout"?) so I'd start with Spooner. some of it takes place up in the pacific northwest.

  3. Kewl. I have Spooner. Just haven't taken it on yet. Read Paris Trout early on and was so taken aback I haven't read anything of his since. Didn't see the movie. Also have not been able to get into Jim Harrison. hmm.