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“What Mallon does best is dramatize the bizarre ‘80s intersection of Hollywood and Washington, D.C., as equal weight is given to Merv Griffin and Eva Gabor as to Pat Buchanan and Jeane Kirkpatrick, creating in the process a crazy, quilted depiction of a contradiction-filled presidential administration.” —Publishers Weekly


“An intriguing, humorous, even catty backstage view of the Reagan presidency from an artisan of the historical novel . . . Historical fiction at this high level satisfies the appetite for speculation or even titillation through restraint as much as research . . . Mallon’s version of history is close enough to fact to revive faded memories, while his imagining of who thought and said what presents some of the coherence and delights of fiction.”—Kirkus Reviews, (starred review)
 
“Despite all the scene-jumping, the transitions are seamless; there’s a whirlwind of activity and abundant snappy dialogue . . . Mallon has crafted a scrupulously researched novel that gives readers a front-row seat on world-changing events—a combination that proves irresistible.” —Booklist, (starred review)

Author & Editor: Thomas Mallon and Dan Frank

Wednesday October 7, 2015
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

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Part 2

 

Photos

Photo Credit: William Bodenschatz

Center for Fiction favorite Thomas Mallon returned to talk with his editor, Dan Frank, about his latest book Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years. A master writer of historical fiction, Mallon is known for his witty yet insightful style which looks at some of the twentieth century's most prominent figures. And of course Dan Frank of Pantheon is one of the greatest editors.

 


 

About Finale: A Novel of the Reagan Years

Adding to a fiction chronicle that has already spanned American history from the Lincoln assassination to the Watergate scandal, Thomas Mallon now brings to life the tumultuous administration of the most consequential and enigmatic president in modern times.
 
Finale captures the crusading ideologies, blunders, and glamour of the still-hotly-debated Reagan years, taking readers to the political gridiron of Washington, the wealthiest enclaves of Southern California, and the volcanic landscape of Iceland, where the president engages in two almost apocalyptic days of negotiation with Mikhail Gorbachev.
 
Along with Soviet dissidents, illegal-arms traders, and antinuclear activists, the novel’s memorable characters include Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter, Pamela Harriman, John W. Hinckley, Jr. (Reagan’s would-be assassin), and even Bette Davis, with whom the president had long ago appeared onscreen. Several figures—including a humbled, crafty Richard Nixon; the young, brilliantly acerbic Christopher Hitchens; and an anxious, astrology-dependent Nancy Reagan (on the verge of a terrible realization)—become the eyes through which readers see the last convulsions of the Cold War, the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, and a political revolution.
 
At the center of it all—but forever out of reach—is Ronald Reagan himself, whose genial remoteness confounds his subordinates, his children, and the citizens who elected him.
 
Finale is the book that Thomas Mallon’s work has been building toward for years.  It is the most entertaining and panoramic novel about American politics since Advise and Consent, more than a half century ago.

 


 

Thomas Mallon is the author of eight novels, including Watergate, Henry and Clara, Dewey Defeats Truman, and Fellow Travelers, and seven works of nonfiction. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times Book Review, among other publications. He lives in Washington, D.C.