I was dismayed to see the dishonest way my first novel was represented in a recent piece by Matt Kettmann (“How Real Is Wreck and Order“). I do not have a problem with readers taking critical issue with the book, but I do object to having my work misrepresented.
When I spoke with Kettmann over the phone about Wreck and Order, he described the book as “autobiographical,” and I explained that my narrator’s experiences are not my own, although Elsie lives in some of the places I have lived and visited. It was surprising, then, that he chose to present the novel as based on my life, which he knows nothing about. In so doing, he inaccurately describes both my life and Elsie’s. Kettmann also characterizes the book as “full of self-pity.” Elsie is a purposefully, deeply flawed character, but the reader would be hard-pressed to find one sentence in which she exhibits self-pity. She is, in fact, her own worst critic, and the novel plays upon the tension between her fierce self-awareness and her mistakes.
Lastly, I found it disturbing that in describing the work I did for The Independent in my early twenties, Kettmann refers to my “nymphish sexiness,” which is irrelevant to any discussion of my writing.
It’s disappointing that a newspaper that means so much to me, and for which I did careful work for years, would publish such a careless response to my first book.