In Conversation: Jaime Clarke and Charles Bock
Wednesday April 30, 2014
|Photo Courtesy of John Laprade (Clarke)|
Jaime Clarke read from his new book, Vernon Downs, a story based on Clarke's real-life mentor/protégé relationship with Bret Easton Ellis. Charles Bock, author of Beautiful Children, joined to discuss, among other subjects, transfiguring the autobiographical roots of fiction.
About Vernon Downs (Roundabout Press)
Charlie Martens is desperate for stability in an otherwise peripatetic life. An explosion that killed his parents when he was young robbed him of normalcy and he was shuttled from relative to relative, left alone to decipher the world he encountered in order to cobble together an answer as to how he would live. Ever the outcast, Charlie recognizes in Olivia, an international student from London, the sense of otherness he feels and their relationship seems to promise salvation. But when Olivia abandons him, his desperate mind fixates on her favorite writer, Vernon Downs, who becomes an emblem for reunion with Olivia.
Charlie’s quest takes him from Phoenix to New York City and when chance brings him into proximity to Vernon Downs, he quickly ingratiates himself into Downs’s world. Proximity invites certain temptations, though, and it isn’t long before Charlie moves dangerously from fandom to apprentice to outright possession.
“Vernon Downs is a gripping, hypnotically written and unnerving look at the dark side of literary adulation. Jaime Clarke’s tautly suspenseful novel is a cautionary tale for writers and readers alike—after finishing it, you may start to think that J.D. Salinger had the right idea after all.”
— Tom Perrotta, author of Election, Little Children, and The Leftovers
Jaime Clarke is the author of the novel We're So Famous, editor of Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes, Conversations with Jonathan Lethem, and Talk Show: On the Couch with Contemporary Writers, as well as co-editor of No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work from Post Road Magazine and, with Dennis Lehane, Boston Noir 2: The Classics. He is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.
Charles Bock is the author of the novel Beautiful Children, which was a New York Times bestseller and notable book of the year, and won the Sue Kaufmann Prize for best first novel from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His fiction and non-fiction has appeared in Harper's, Esquire, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Slate, AGNI, and the Iowa Review, as well as in numerous anthologies. He's received fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri foundation in Umbria Italy, Yaddo, UCross, and the Vermont Studio Center. He's taught at NYU and the Gotham Writers Workshop, among other places.
This event was funded in part by Poets & Writers, Inc. through public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.