Pete Dexter's new novel, "Spooner," and Its Quirky Author's Note

As a writer it’s easy to kvetch and snipe about other writers and the failings of their books, and especially what makes up the Bestseller List, which often seems like crap in one form on another: For a funny take on this see the review in yesterday’s NY Times ( of a new novel titled How I Became a Famous Novelist, which sounds fun, though I doubt I’ll have the patience to stick with an entire book of it. There are immensely popular genres that make me cringe, including zombies, vampires, crackpot ‘symbolist’ mysteries, and anything to do with magical British children and their ‘dumbledore’ adventures. But I begrudge them nothing. For all the fans of that stuff, good for you. I’d rather people read a fantasy than no book at all. And when writers carp about the success of other writers, it always seems like sour grapes, envy, or “misdirected animosity,” to (badly) quote Charles Bukowski in Barfly.
What I like best is when a new book comes out that makes me excited. That’s a good way to wash away any negativity. And soon we’re going to have a treat: a new Pete Dexter novel is, as they say, “Coming Soon!”
Here’s my take: Pete Dexter is no less than one of the knockout writers of his time, having written two novels that make it to the rarified realm of ‘classics’: Paris Trout (1988), a hardbitten vision of what’s (been) wrong with The South, and Deadwood (1986), a hardbitten vision of a raunchy and funny Old West. Plus all of his novels are good. The ending of Brotherly Love (1993) has one of the best mobster moments I can remember reading, way better than Mario Puzo’s Godfather. Recently I reread The Paperboy (1995), a newspaper-biz novel with an undercurrent of deviant sexuality. His last novel was Train (2004), not his best, but still pretty good. This fall comes Spooner (pub date listed as September), which I’m reading and liking right now. (Note: I was sent an Advance Reader’s Copy, which used to be known as ‘galleys,’ and is what book reviewer’s tend to get to read and time the reviews appearance with the final hardback release date to bookstores.) The advance copy features a quirky, oddball author’s note. I’ll share an excerpt:
“As far as I know, sometime in November of last year, the book you have in your hands was three years late. There are many reasons it was three years late, probably the most conspicuous being that it was once 250 pages or so longer than the version you hold, and it takes maybe half a year to write an extra 250 pages, and at least twice that to subtract them back out. I realize this leaves another year and a half unaccounted for, and all I can say about that, readers, is get in line. Whole decades are missing from my life, and I am pretty sure I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
“All to say that what you have here, while not exactly a first draft, is further away from the finished product than most advance readers’ editions are, and when you come across sentences you don’t particularly like, keep in mind that I probably didn’t like them either. On the odd chance that the bad sentences are still there when the book comes out, then you should keep in mind that you’re reading somebody who is still missing 18 months of the last 36, and has no idea about 2006 at all.”—Pete Dexter
So far what I’ve read is a funny, picaresque novel about an unlikely hero’s birth and early years in Georgia.

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