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Joel Dicker is a Swiss-born, French author who spent childhood summers in New England and somehow imagined that he could write the great American novel. One admires his ambition, but consider how high he raised the bar for himself. To begin with, he sets this novel in a small New Hampshire town that is protective of the great novelist who lives there. So, to begin with, he's invoking J. D. Salinger and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and when he offers up bits from his own character's famed novel, the text can't possibly measure up. It's also problematic that one of the things these genuine authors valued about the local townfolk was their reserve and the way they valued the privacy of their famous residents. In this novel, seemingly all the locals are deeply tangled in the author's life and no one has any sense of reserve. Compounding these problems, the story is told from the point of view of the author's protege, himself a hot young novelist, at work on an eagerly anticipated second novel. So one can only expect the narrative to meet an awfully high standard. Mr. Dicker has already made a number of promises here--a great author telling the story of a great author which will explain America generally and New England in particular, written in his second language and translated into a third. It's probable no one could have met these challenges and certain a first-time novelist oughtn't have tried.

This is all unfortunate because there's a serviceable enough book lurking underneath all these layers of ambition. Scrubbed of pretense and edited down by about a hundred pages it might even be a really good mystery. Instead, he just keeps piling on as (spoiler-alert) he even draws parallels between the older author and Nabokov. Eventually, the reader is so disappointed that the novel isn't delivering on its promises that even what's good is lost in the frustration.


(Reviewed:)

Grade: (C)

  

Websites:

See also:

French Literature
Joel Dicker Links:

    -AUTHOR SITE:JoelDicker.com
    -WIKIPEDIA: Joël Dicker
    -PROFILE: In 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair,' Life Imitates Art: 'The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair' has been a best-seller in Europe, but will the author, Joël Dicker, enjoy the same success in the U.S.? (STEFANIE COHEN, May 22, 2014, WSJ)
    -INTERVIEW : Interview: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker (The Lit Bitch, 5/29/14)
    -INTERVIEW: PEN Atlas Q&A: Joël Dicker, author of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Tasja Dorkofikis, 5/29/14, PEN)
    -AUDIO INTERVIEW: Joel Dicker on The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Emily Donahue, June 17, 2014, Texas Standard)
    -REVIEW: of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joël Dicker (Sam Leith, The Guardian)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Richard Lipez, Washington Post)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Gaby Wood, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Chelsea Cain, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Complete Review)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Sophie Quick, The Australian)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (The Economist)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Andrew Taylor, The Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Heller MacAlpin, NPR)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Satarupa Paul, Hindustan Times)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Laura Root, Euro Crime)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Pretty Sinister Books)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (James Runcie, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (F?inancial Times)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Savita Iyer-Ahrestani, Paste)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Patricia Nicol, Metro)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Darrin Franich, Entertainment Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (BBC Book Club)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Jake Kerridge, Sunday Express)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Marian Winik, Newsday)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Sarah, Crime Pieces)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Daniel Hahn, Independent)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Barbara Clark, Book Page)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Corinne Taggart, Pittsbrgh Post-Gazette)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Guy Haydon, South China Morning Post)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Molly Driscoll, CS Monitor)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Joan Smith, Sunday Times of London)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Owen Richardson, Sydney Morning Herald)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Jazz Croft, NZ Book Lovers)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Alice Gregory, The New Yorker)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Atossa Abrahamian, Book Forum)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (David Herman, Jewish Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Times)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Caroline Jowett, Sunday Express)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (Declan Burke, Irish Times)
    -REVIEW: of Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair ()

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