Anyone unfamiliar with Pete Dexter, and anyone familiar, should have a look at his recent Spooner. It is uncharacteristic of his work in that it is blocked in by autobiography more than the other books. By that I mean large blocks of autobiography barge around, like icebergs, keeping the thing imbalanced in the way that his fictions are balanced. I worked my way through, with pleasure, a 900-page early draft. These cumbersome icebergs, troubling in the sea of smooth and coherent fiction, are pure delights in this book. This book will recommend to you his others: the NBA-winning Paris Trout, the wily and frightening Paper Boy, the ripped-off-by-HBO Deadwood (not a dime to Dexter). As I would recommend Walker Percy after his “best book” The Moviegoer, so I would recommend Pete Dexter after Paris Trout.
What do Pete do? Pete writes the truth as quietly as possible. In Spooner, after his character is expelled from kindergarten for being overfond of the teacher, he wanders around town with “a crayon-sized erection,” inexplicably apparently cut from the final version of the book. Pete was recently nipped by a puppy and went down for nine weeks in hospital with staph infection all the way to the spine and now is on the edge without full use of right arm so get his books and pull him through. They will pull you through.
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