St. Famous

St. Famous

by Jonathan Dee

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Abducted by young African-American Victor Hartley in the middle of a riot, aspiring writer Paul Soloway becomes a reluctant hero at the center of a racial maelstrom. By the author of The Liberty Campaign.See more details below


Abducted by young African-American Victor Hartley in the middle of a riot, aspiring writer Paul Soloway becomes a reluctant hero at the center of a racial maelstrom. By the author of The Liberty Campaign.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his ambitious but rather didactic third novel, Dee (The Liberty Campaign) explores America's obsession with the cults of victimhood and fame in the aftermath of a race riot in New York City. Paul Soloway is a struggling writer who's been working on his first novel for 10 years when the acquittal of a white man who has shot a black child touches off a riot in Harlem. Paul ends up being abducted and held hostage by Victor Hartley, a normally respectable young black man brought to the boiling point by a long and random chain of circumstance. The novel opens as Paul, who has suffered severe physical injuries during his time as a hostage, is released from the hospital and into the ensuing media feeding frenzy. Eventually, he is persuaded to write a book about his experience in the riot, which is presented to the reader largely through excerpts from the work in progress. Meanwhile, his abductor becomes a hero in the black community and, with the help of a high-profile lawyer, starts his own media campaign. The gulf that separates Paul and Victor is only increased by their different attempts to make sense of their private experience in the public realm, leading to a climax that sacrifices credibility to make a polemical point. Dee is certainly a skilled writer, one who pays careful attention to both the internal and external details that give his characters' actions substance and weight. But while his portrayal of America's racial divide is acute and his characters well drawn, ultimately both Paul and Victor emerge as selfish and nave, and much of what they learn about the power of the media and the distortions of public image over the course of the novel seems distressingly obvious. Author tour. (Jan.)
Library Journal
In this new novel from Dee (The Liberty Campaign, LJ 6/15/93), a young, anonymous writer emerges from a race riot as a reluctant hero.
Donna Seaman
Dee's morally inquisitive and suspenseful novels, including "The Liberty Campaign" (1993), are a feast for the mind, blending compelling characters, revelatory situations, and bracing social commentary. Here, in this brilliant tale of two men caught first in the web of urban violence, then in the rush of media hype, Dee examines our methods for coping with life's galling arbitrariness and the repercussions of rage, egocentricity, and predation. Paul Soloway, an all but unpublished writer, tries to remove himself from the fray by devoting himself to art for art's sake. His wife supports him and their two young sons as best she can, but Manhattan is expensive and her salary and patience are being stretched to the limit. Then, abruptly, everything changes. Paul wanders into the epicenter of a riot and ends up being held hostage and severely beaten. The media goes into a frenzy, and Paul finds himself with a six-figure book contract and an artistic dilemma. Meanwhile his assailant, Victor, heretofore peaceful and hardworking, finds himself turned into an unlikely hero by his grandstanding celebrity lawyer. As Dee adeptly dramatizes the implications and ironies of all this, he concludes, ultimately, that stories have a life of their own that no amount of exploitation can smother.

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Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Random House
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2 MB

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