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Dyer Maker

FA And Sons

FA review tag

At the center of the many characters and plot lines in David Gilbert’s new novel & Sons is an aging New York novelist named A.N. Dyer. Dyer’s debut work about young men in a Northeastern boarding school is an American classic, beloved by almost all who read it, most of whom do so as teenagers. Dyer has been deeply secluded in his New York apartment for years (in the opening scene at a funeral, some attendees have brought books to try and get signed). He has been in trouble for a dalliance with a much younger woman. And within 25 pages he has  referred to someone as a “sporty bastard.”

The parallels to J.D. Salinger here are obvious. There are other touches throughout the book. Characters crying at the natural history museum. “Fuck You” scrawled on a ceiling. A rain-soaked scene of emotional release at the Central Park carousel. One character, Jeanie Spokes, who works at Dyer’s literary agency and handled correspondence to the famous author, seems to be based on a woman who worked at Salinger’s literary agency and handles letters to the famous author. Dyer’s live-in nurse Gerd bears a passing resemblance to Salinger’s last wife Colleen, a nurse.

But & Sons is not a novelization of the imagined life of J.D. Salinger, and the famously reclusive author is only the most well-represented of several literary fathers here. Continue reading

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Fiction Advocate: “Nabokov Stole my Grandpa to Make Pale Fire”

IN “A SINGULARLY TASTELESS DEVICE,” Fiction Advocate Brian Hurley traces the genealogy of the Hurley clan back to a character in Nabokov’s masterwork of misdirection, “Pale Fire.”

Earl Hurley had three sons (including my father Tom) who were called the Hurley boys. They were infamous in Lexington for their roughhousing ways. Nabokov would have met them in 1951, when he traveled from Cornell, where he was teaching, to Washington and Lee on a lecture tour.

What other clues did Nabokov plant in his story, to pique the suspicions of a young Brian Hurley?

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