Thursday, December 11, 2008

Jeffrey Frank

Jeffrey Frank's novels include The Columnist, Bad Publicity, and Trudy Hopedale.

I recently asked him what he was reading. His reply:
I’ve just finished a galley of Nina Killham’s Believe Me (it’s out next month from Plume). I’ll confess that I tend to pick up lots of galleys and then to abandon them quickly; the publishing industry is a scary business because it produces so many galleys for so few impatient readers. But I was engaged from the start by this one, and by the voice of Killham’s narrator-a precocious thirteen-year-old named Nic (after Nicolas Copernicus).

Nic’s mother, an astronomer and a committed atheist, cannot quite deal with the fact that Nic is coming under the influence of evangelicals and, what she finds even more alarming, that he’s about to declare himself a born again Christian. This summary, though, doesn’t do justice to a funny and serious plot that involves a discordant marriage, discussions of science and religion, the general torments of adolescence, and a family tragedy. (After all, Philip Roth’s latest book, Indignation, like Believe Me, could be described simply as a novel about the problems—parental, academic, and sexual—of adolescence.)

Believe Me held me with its sly wit, intelligence, and tenderness, as well as Killham’s persistent wisdom about the all-too-human frailties of her characters. Believe me.
In addition to his novels, Frank was a senior editor at The New Yorker for over a decade and collaborated with his Danish-born wife, Diana Crone Frank, on The Stories of Hans Christian Andersen: A New Translation From the Danish.

Visit Jeffrey Frank's website.

--Marshal Zeringue