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Potboiler

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Overview

Arthur Pfefferkorn is a has-been, or perhaps a never-was: a middle-aged college professor with long-dead literary aspirations. When his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallèe, is lost at sea, Pfefferkorn is torn between envy and grief, for de Vallèe not only outshone Pfefferkorn professionally, but married the woman Pfefferkorn loved.
Pfefferkorn’s decision to reconnect with de Vallèe’s widow sets in motion a surreal chain of events, plunging him into a ...

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Potboiler

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Overview

Arthur Pfefferkorn is a has-been, or perhaps a never-was: a middle-aged college professor with long-dead literary aspirations. When his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallèe, is lost at sea, Pfefferkorn is torn between envy and grief, for de Vallèe not only outshone Pfefferkorn professionally, but married the woman Pfefferkorn loved.
Pfefferkorn’s decision to reconnect with de Vallèe’s widow sets in motion a surreal chain of events, plunging him into a shadowy realm of double crosses and intrigue, a world where no one can be trusted—and nothing can be taken seriously.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post - Yvonne Zipp
Potboiler…takes thriller writing and stands it on its head while making goofy faces…darkly hilarious…
Publishers Weekly
Kellerman’s insightful satire on publishing, bestsellers, and series continuing long after an author’s demise opens promisingly. Years earlier, Arthur Pfefferkorn’s one coming-of-age novel received “mild acclaim but sold poorly.” Arthur now ekes out a living as an adjunct professor “at a small college on the Eastern Seaboard.” He seethes over the success and wealth of his oldest friend, bestselling thriller writer William de Vallée, who married Arthur’s first love, Carlotta. After William is lost at sea, Arthur finds his friend’s last manuscript, plagiarizes the story, and becomes a bestselling author. But the price of Arthur’s new success unfurls into events that could be lifted from his thriller—a series of betrayals and double crosses with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Kellerman (The Executor) makes witty use of thriller clichés, especially at the rousing finale, but the flaccid middle section suggests that this one-note joke might have worked better at novella length. Agent: Liza Dawson, Liza Dawson Associates. (June)
Library Journal
Arthur Pfefforkorn is a middle-aged sad sack of a college professor and washed-up literary novelist, having published one novel decades ago. In contrast, his best friend, the international best-selling thriller writer William de Vallèe, has sold millions of copies and garnered enthusiastic reviews. Pfefferkorn holds his friend in secret disdain because the writing, well, isn't very good. But when de Vallèe (a nom de plume, of course) is lost at sea and Pfefferkorn reunites with the widow and his former flame at the funeral, his life suddenly gets a little complicated. Intrigue and political machinations ensue. Really. VERDICT This satire-heavy novel works well in the first half. There are truly funny observations about publishing, what merits good writing, and the excesses of the thriller genre. However, the second half descends into the political intrigue of a made-up country, Zlabia, and the joke feels more than a little old by the end. Some thriller readers will pick this up on the strength of Kellerman's (The Executor; The Genius; Trouble; Sunstroke) name and will be confounded, but a few will actually love this odd hybrid of a book. [See Prepub Alert, 12/5/11.]—Andrea Y. Griffith, Olympia, WA
Kirkus Reviews
Seldom, if ever, have the cloak-and-dagger folk--of any stripe, ours or theirs--appeared so omniscient, so omnipotent and so perfectly awful as they do in Kellerman's mordantly funny latest. If you put the question to him--and he was of a mind to answer it--Arthur Pfefferkorn would probably acknowledge that, yes, he'd led one of those gray lives up to now, a life without much in the way of accomplishment. He was what he was--a middle-aged English professor at an undistinguished university, whose courses were neither flocked to nor fled from. True, there was that long-ago novel: respectful reviews, bleak sales figures. This, of course, is in marked contrast to the performance of internationally famous William de Vallée, who pumps out bestsellers as if they were pellets from a shotgun and who happens to be Arthur's oldest and best friend. But then suddenly, Bill is lost at sea, occasioning in Arthur's life what amounts to a sea change. Deeply involved in this are the luscious Carlotta, Bill's not-so-grieving widow, and a certain unfinished thriller, the completion of which implies Arthur's acceptance of that old fictional standby: the Faustian bargain. Turns out that Bill wasn't just an internationally famous, bestselling author. He was also a highly effective American spy, whose loss has created an intolerable vacuum. He has to be replaced. "Tag," says the satanic superagent who explains all this to Arthur. "You're it." And just like that, Arthur Pfefferkorn's life goes from gray to incandescent. Another brilliant performance from Kellerman (The Executor, 2010, etc.). Potboiler? Hardly. Kellerman has fun here, and so will his readers.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780515153026
  • Publisher: Jove
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 766,577
  • Product dimensions: 4.35 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Kellerman

Jesse Kellerman is the internationally bestselling author of four previous novels, The Executor, The Genius, Trouble, and Sunstroke. His books and plays have also won several awards. He lives in La Jolla, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 9 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(3)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2013

    First half was good. Mildly funny with strong satire. After th

    First half was good. Mildly funny with strong satire. After that it went to crap. The satire was forced and to be put on so thick it failed. Badly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 21, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The reader has an inkling of what¿s in store from the cover of


    The reader has an inkling of what’s in store from the cover of Jesse Kellerman’s new book, which appears to show a typewriter keyboard of sorts, the various keys or buttons displaying words such as “assassinate,” “coup d’etat,” and “war.”

    The first page of the book is filled with what appear to be blurbs by no less eminent writers than Stephen King, Lee Child, Robert Crais and various highly respected reviewers, which on closer inspection are very funny and relate to books written by one William deVallee, “noted author of more than thirty internationally best-selling thrillers” whose protagonist is one Dick Stapp. The protagonist of “Potboiler” is Art Pfefferkorn, who had known deVallee longer than anyone, including his wife [with whom, it should be said, Pfefferkorn had been in love]. The two men, best friends, had thirty years ago both been aspiring writers. While Bill had achieved great fame, Pfefferkorn had only had one book published.

    The book takes off in a completely different direction at about one-third of the way through, part satire, part fantasy. Devious, unsettling and frightening things begin to happen. There are several memorable lines regarding writing, e.g., “good novels enlarged on reality while bad novels leaned on it” and “If one could not express something in an original way, one ought not to express it at all,” and points out the “similarities between spying and writing: Both called for stepping into an imagined world and residing there with conviction, nearly to the point of self-delusion. Both were jobs that outsiders thought of as exotic but that were in practice quite tedious.”

    A highly original and delightful read, “Potboiler” is recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 10, 2013

    Have read other J. Kellerman bookooks with mixed reactions. The

    Have read other J. Kellerman bookooks with mixed reactions. The final chapter "Deus ex Machina" is extremely apt. (an illogical ending to move the story forward when the writer has "painted himself into a corner" and sees no other way out). After a life of struggling, and trying to achieve some success and happiness, then being manipulated by outrageous events, Art just gives up on life, deciding he has had enough, and has nothing left to live for - betrayed once again by those he believe in. What nonsense. Real letdown. But beautifully written

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2012

    Terrible

    A true disappointment

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Alex 2 Davy do you play Mine Craft?

    Go to i FUNNY and click reviews you will some thing called "TAP HERE PLAESE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

    So after that go to Funny Pics

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2013

    Fgfhfh

    Rhfufygf

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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