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Vernon Downs (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
Jaime Clarke is a graduate of the University of Arizona and holds an MFA from Bennington College. He is the author of the previous novel We're So Famous; editor of the anthologies 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; and co-editor of the anthologies No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work from “Post Road” Magazine (with Mary Cotton) and Boston Noir 2: The Classics (with Dennis Lehane and Mary Cotton). He is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner, with his wife, of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.
“A gripping, hypnotically written and unnerving look at the dark side of literary adulation. Jaime Clarke's 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 Perotta, Author of Election, Little Children and The Leftovers
“Moving and edgy in just the right way. Love (or lack of) and Family (or lack of) is at the heart of this wonderfully obsessive novel.” —Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Vernon Downs is a fascinating and sly tribute to a certain fascinating and sly writer, but this novel also perfectly captures the lonely distortions of a true obsession.” —Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia
“What makes Clarke's excellent novel stand out isn't just its rueful intelligence, but its startling sadness. Vernon Downs is first rate.” —Matthew Specktor, author of American Dream Machine