Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Chris Pavone

Chris Pavone’s first novel, The Expats, was published in 2012, and was a New York Times and international bestseller, with nearly twenty foreign editions and a major film deal. The Expats was nominated for a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Macavity, and awards from the Strand Magazine Critics Circle, the Mystery Booksellers Association, and the International Thriller Writers, and received the 2013 Edgar Award and the 2013 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

Pavone's new novel is The Accident.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. His reply:
After a confluence of strident recommendations, I finally gave in and picked up Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose Novels, and am nearly finished devouring them. Strangely, I discovered that both my literary agent and my associate publisher are reading the same exact books, which is an extraordinary coincidence for a series of not-exactly-new British novels, being read by New York publishing people, who as a matter of professional obligation are almost always reading something brand-new.

Although the novels I write are plot-driven thrillers, I often read books in which roughly nothing happens, but it all doesn’t happen beautifully. No author in my memory does this better than St. Aubyn. The plot of a Patrick Melrose novel—say, Some Hope, the third—can be summed up along the lines of “Upper-class English people attend a country-house birthday party”; the full extent of nail-biting drama is when one guest mistakenly splatters gravy on the dress of another.

But each of St. Aubyn’s characters, from the most incidental minor walk-on to Patrick Melrose himself, is so exquisitely and sympathetically drawn that it’s impossible to resist reading on. Not because I need to know what happens—practically nothing “happens”—but because I want to know more about these people, I want to hear their thoughts, their struggles, and their unremittingly witty dialogue. Even the purposefully tiresome characters are compelling, somehow sympathetic despite their vast array of negative traits—and there are no shortage of negative traits, including the protagonist’s own. In these books, character is everything, and it’s their flaws that make them irresistible.
Visit Chris Pavone's website.

The Page 69 Test: The Expats.

Coffee with a Canine: Chris Pavone & Charlie Brown.

The Page 69 Test: The Accident.

--Marshal Zeringue