Stuart Nadler, author of Wise Men, Owen King, author of Double Feature, and David Gilbert, author of & Sons, came together to discuss writing about the relationship between fathers and sons.
About Wise Men by Stuart Nadler
Almost overnight, Arthur Wise has become one of the wealthiest and most powerful attorneys in America. His first big purchase is a simple beach house in a place called Bluepoint, a town on the far edge of the flexed arm of Cape Cod. It’s in Bluepoint, during the summer of 1952, that Arthur’s teenage son, Hilly, makes friends with Lem Dawson, a black man whose job it is to take care of the house but whose responsibilities quickly grow. When Hilly finds himself falling for Lem’s niece, Savannah, his affection for her collides with his father’s dark secrets. The results shatter his family, and hers. Years later, haunted by his memories of that summer, Hilly sets out to find Savannah, in an attempt to right the wrongs he helped set in motion. But can his guilt, and his good intentions, overcome the forces of history, family, and identity? A beautifully told multigenerational story about love and regret, Wise Men confirms that Stuart Nadler is one of the most exciting young writers at work today.
Stuart Nadler is a recipient of the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. He is the author of Wise Men, and the story collection The Book of Life. His fiction has appeared in The Atlantic.
About Double Feature by Owen King
Sam Dolan is a young man coming to terms with his life in the process and aftermath of making his first film. He has a difficult relationship with his father, B-movie actor Booth Dolan—a boisterous, opinionated, lying lothario whose screen legacy falls somewhere between cult hero and pathetic. Allie, Sam’s dearly departed mother, was a woman whose only fault, in Sam’s eyes, was her eternal affection for his father. Also included in the cast of indelible characters: a precocious, frequently violent half-sister; a conspiracy-theorist second wife; an Internet-famous roommate; a contractor who can’t stop expanding his house; a happy-go-lucky college girlfriend and her husband, a retired Yankees catcher; the morose producer of a true-crime show; and a slouching indie-film legend. Not to mention a tragic sex monster. Unraveling the tumultuous, decades-spanning story of the Dolan family’s friends, lovers, and adversaries, Double Feature is about letting go of everything—regret, resentment, dignity, moving pictures, the dead—and taking it again from the top. Against the backdrop of indie filmmaking, college campus life, contemporary Brooklyn, and upstate New York, Owen King’s epic debut novel combines propulsive storytelling with mordant wit and brims with a deep understanding of the trials of ambition and art, of relationships and life, and of our attempts to survive it all.
Owen King is a graduate of Vassar College and the MFA program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. He is the author of the novel Double Feature, We’re All in This Together: A Novella and Stories, as well as the co-editor of Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories. His writing has appeared in Fairy Tale Review, One Story, Prairie Schooner, and Subtropics, among other publications. Owen has taught creative writing at Columbia University and Fordham University and is a working screenwriter with a script in development by the producer of Winter’s Bone. He is married to the novelist Kelly Braffet.
About & Sons by David Gilbert
A literary masterwork for readers of The Art of Fielding, The Emperor’s Children, and Wonder Boys—the panoramic, deeply affecting story of two interconnected families, an iconic novelist, and the heartbreaking truths that fiction can hide. The funeral of Charles Henry Topping on Manhattan’s Upper East Side would have been a minor affair (his two-hundred-word obit in The New York Times notwithstanding) but for the presence of one particular mourner: the notoriously reclusive author A. N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of American teenage angst. But as Andrew Newbold Dyer delivers the eulogy for his oldest friend, he suffers a breakdown over the life he’s led and the people he’s hurt and the novel that will forever endure as his legacy. He must gather his three sons for the first time in many years—before it’s too late. So begins a wild, transformative, heartbreaking week, as witnessed by Philip Topping, who, like his late father, finds himself caught up in the swirl of the Dyer family. First there’s son Richard, a struggling screenwriter and father, returning from self-imposed exile in California. In the middle lingers Jamie, settled in Brooklyn after his twenty-year mission of making documentaries about human suffering. And last is Andy, the half brother whose mysterious birth tore the Dyers apart seventeen years ago, now in New York on spring break, determined to lose his virginity before returning to the prestigious New England boarding school that inspired Ampersand. But only when the real purpose of this reunion comes to light do these sons realize just how much is at stake, not only for their father but for themselves and three generations of their family. In this daring feat of fiction, David Gilbert establishes himself as one of our most original, entertaining, and insightful authors. & Sons is that rarest of treasures: a startlingly imaginative novel about families and how they define us, and the choices we make when faced with our own mortality.
David Gilbert is the author of the novels & Sons and The Normals and the story collection Remote Feed. His stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, GQ, and Bomb. He lives in New York with his wife and three children.