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Shipwreck

Louis Begley

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Description

A mesmerizing novel of deception and betrayal from the acclaimed author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt.
John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L’Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North’s chosen interlocutor–who could be his doppelgänger–is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North’s tale.

North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction.
Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul–narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Louis Begley's Memories of a Marriage.

Publishers Weekly Review

Aug 11, 2003 – The moral disintegration of a man consumed by lust is the narrative frame of Begley's haunting new novel. Since the man, John North, is a celebrated author of literary novels, the subtext concerns the nature of the creative process. North tells his story to the nameless narrator in a series of monologues. In Paris after the publication of his new novel, North is interviewed by a young Vogue writer, Léa Morini, who later comes on to him in a blatant fashion. Although he has never been unfaithful to Lydia, the wife he adores—though she is a busy research physician, she selflessly caters to his demands—North persuades himself that a brief fling with Léa will revivify his work. Struggling with creative self-doubt, North also confesses to faults of selfishness, egotism, resentment and envy of Lydia's family, who are Jewish and wealthy, as compared to his own parents, who are old-guard Protestants. With scenes set in Paris, Martha's Vineyard, the Greek island of Spetsai, East Hampton and Hollywood, Begley enters Louis Auchincloss territory (although with sexual details that Auchincloss would never dream of), and proves himself an astute observer of different social classes and the minute variations in their behavior invisible to those outside the inner circle. But it's the meticulously revealed psychology of a man who doesn't like himself (yet believes that he's superior to most people) that propels the narrative here, as North surrenders to his prurient desire, while vowing that Lydia will never learn of his betrayal. Léa proves predatory in her pursuit, however, and the story's sense of dread and suspense mount as events move to a mesmerizing conclusion. Yet Begley ends the novel on a note of ambiguity, leading the reader to speculate whether the narrator is perhaps North's alter ego, and the entire story a brilliant exposition of the way authors can use the material of their lives to create brilliant fiction. 4-city author tour.
Shipwreck
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Sep 23, 2003
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 272 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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