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About Thomas Beller
Beller's previous books are a collection of stories, "Seduction Theory," "The Sleep-Over Artist," a novel; and "How to Be a Man: Scenes from a Protracted Boyhood," a collection of personal essays, many of which appeared in the New Yorker and The New York Times, publications to which he contributes regularly.
In addition to his writing, Beller has edited several anthologies, including two drawn from his website, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood. Through the literary journal he co-founded and edited from 1990 until its close in 2010, Open City Magazine and Books, he published a diverse array of authors, from Said Sayrafiezedeh and Meghan Daum to Sam Lipsyte and Edward St. Aubyn, among many others. He teaches creative writing at Tulane University and lives in New Orleans with his wife and two children.
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Books By Thomas Beller
From strip clubs to the Academy Awards to the basketball court—a ride through the landscape of guyhood.
Acclaimed fiction writer Thomas Beller digs deep into his own history in this humorous and insightful collection about the state of masculinity. With sharp and engaging eloquence he discourses on T-shirts; being your mother's date at the Academy Awards; life at a bagel factory; the irrational pleasures of old American cars—and the mysterious disappearance of the author's own particular vehicle from a street in downtown Manhattan; love, sex, and breakups in an office environment; the social ecology of street basketball—including the sudden peril befalling a particular court in Manhattan and the heartwarming efforts of previously disparate community members to save it; coaches; the death of a parent; getting over J. D. Salinger; and an attempt to build a complicated piece of furniture for a beloved. Through stints as a bike messenger, a drummer, a boyfriend and—possibly, potentially, finally—a husband, Beller writes about the life-changing effects of love and marriage—past, present, and future.
J.D. Salinger published his first story in The New Yorker at age twenty-nine. Three years later came The Catcher in The Rye, a novel that has sold more than sixty-five million copies and achieved mythic status since its publication in 1951. Subsequent books introduced a new type in contemporary literature: the introspective, hyperarticulate Glass family, whose stage is the Upper East Side. Yet we still know little about Salinger’s personal life and less about his character.
This was by design. In 1953, determined to escape media attention, Salinger fled to New Hampshire, where he would live until his death in 2010. Even there, privacy proved elusive: a Time cover story; a memoir by Joyce Maynard (who dropped out of Yale as a freshman to move in with him); and a legal battle over an unauthorized biography, which darkened his last decades. Yet he continued to write, and is rumored to have left behind a mass of work that his estate intends to publish.
Thomas Beller, a novelist who grew up in Manhattan, is the ideal guide to Salinger’s world. He gives us a sense of life at The New Yorker (where he was once a staff writer) and a portrait of editor Gus Lobrano, whose relationship with Salinger has rarely been written about. He visits Salinger’s summer camp and the apartment buildings where the author lived. He reads the famous works with obsessive attention, finding in them an image of his own life experience. The result is a quest biography about learning to know yourself in order to know your subject. J.D. Salinger is the triumph of a rare literary form: biography as work of art.
Here are fourteen of the most vital voices in the contemporary American fiction scene pulling no punches in response to a writer who continues to beguile, charm, fascinate, and frustrate generations of readers. Contributors Walter Kirn, Ren? Steinke, Charles D’Ambrosio, Emma Forrest, Aleksander Hemon, Lucinda Rosenfeld, Amy Sohn, John McNally, Karen E. Bender, Thomas Beller, Benjamin Anastas, Aimee Bender, Joel Stein, and Jane Mendelsohn turn themselves inside out as they discuss their personal reactions to reading Salinger classics–not only The Catcher in the Rye but also Franny and Zooey, Raise High the Roofbeams, Carpenters, and the short stories–and explore, with begrudging gratitude, how Salinger helped to form the deepest reaches of their literary imaginations.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
"In the same way Salinger carved out the niche of male adolescence ....Beller approaches that mutable boy-to-man territory."—San Francisco Chronicle
Writing with the sparkling wit and insight of his highly praised debut, Seduction Theory ("Brilliantly captures the great expectations and recurring ambivalence of youth."—The New York Times), Thomas Beller continues to plumb the adventures of his hero, Alex Fader, a youthful existentialist and sensualist with an insatiable appetite for trouble. The Sleep-Over Artist is an account of critical stages in Alex's life, mapping his progress from youthful delinquent to filmmaker whose career begins when he makes a documentary film exposing the prep school from which he has been expelled. Alex longs for the taste of family life that the early death of his father has denied him. As a young boy he sleeps over at his friends' houses and ingratiates himself with their families; as a young man he extends his sleep-overs to the lives of women, culminating in the ultimate sleep-over—an affair in England with a glamorous, slightly older woman, the mother of a young boy. Beller has a pitch-perfect ear for emotional nuance and a microscopic eye for rendering the wordless moments when a relationship catches fire and all too often begins to falter. The high-wire tension that electrifies The Sleep-Over Artist is Beller's ingenious portrait of a young man who longs to disappear and belong all at the same time.
"Hilarious....captures perfectly the myriad stages of fear, discovery and elation that mark one's first sexual experience."—The New York Times Book Review, Katherine Dieckmann, 16 July 2000 "[W]ell-crafted stories recall the witty phrasing of Updike, the poignant nostalgia of Cheever, the earnest but confused innocence of Salinger."—Library Journal "Featuring a New York that, like Kundera's Prague, is a vast hive of seductions....A moving portrait."—Publishers Weekly, 17 April 2000 "The gentle humor and delicacy of Sleep-Over Artist remind me of the stories of another young cosmopolite, F. Scott Fitzgerald."—Stewart O'Nan, author of A Prayer for the Dying "Fresh, sophisticated and most of all utterly readable...strikes a perfect balance between timely ironies and perennial emotional truths."—Eva Hoffman "Tom Beller is gifted with a wry, dry appreciation of life's sweet and unlikely subtleties."—Elizabeth Wurtzel, author of Prozac Nation and Bitch "A fine novel of Manhattan manners."—New York Observer