Potboiler

Potboiler

3.2 9
by Jesse Kellerman
     
 

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An Edgar(R) Award Nominee for Best Novel

Jesse Kellerman—the international bestselling author of The Executor and The Genius—brings his prodigious talent to bear on a topic he knows well in this hilarious and surprising spin on the modern blockbuster thriller novel.

Missing for months after a tragic boating accident, William de

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Overview

An Edgar(R) Award Nominee for Best Novel

Jesse Kellerman—the international bestselling author of The Executor and The Genius—brings his prodigious talent to bear on a topic he knows well in this hilarious and surprising spin on the modern blockbuster thriller novel.

Missing for months after a tragic boating accident, William de Vallée, the superstar thriller writer, is pronounced dead. His oldest friend, Arthur Pfefferkorn, receives the news with an unsettling mix of grief and envy. A middle-aged college professor with long-dead literary aspirations, Pfefferkorn can’t help but feel outshone by his friend’s success—especially since he married the woman Pfefferkorn loved.

But now Bill is gone, and Pfefferkorn is there to comfort Carlotta in her time of grief. Reconnecting with de Vallée’s widow makes more than one of his dreams come true . . . until it plunges him into a shadowy world of intrigue and double crosses, where no one can be trusted—and nothing can be taken seriously.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 “Very funny—and insightful.”—Booklist

“Truly funny observations about publishing, what merits good writing, and the excesses of the thriller genre.”—Library Journal

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:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/26/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
1,101,998
Product dimensions:
4.12(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“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… Another brilliant performance. Kellerman has fun here, and so will his readers.”
Kirkus (starred)

“Kellerman ruminates on the practice of writing, the experience of sudden literary success, the nature of friendship, and the contrasts between the lives of writers and spies. Potboiler is very funny – and insightful.”
Booklist

“Kellerman balances the line between thrills and satire in this unique reading experience filled with mysteries, conspiracies, double crosses and shadowy villains….Fun in completely unexpected ways. Only a great writer like Kellerman could make it work at all well.”
Romantic Times

“This satire heavy novel works well… There are truly funny observations about publishing, what merits good writing, and the excesses of the thriller genre.”
Library Journal

"A tough, funny satire of the titled genre… Kellerman wants to have fun with thrillers… creating a niche for himself by focusing on characters who are never as smart as they think they are…. a frequently hilarious Moebius strip of a novel."
Palm Beach Post

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Meet the Author

Jesse Kellerman is a recent graduate of Harvard and an MFA from Brandeis. His award-winning plays have been producted throughout the United States and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. He received the 2003 Princess Grace Award, given to America's most promising young playwright, and has been a fellow at New Dramatists.

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