A Novelist Imagines a Life
By Ann Beattie
(Scribner, Paperback, 9781439168721, 304pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
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The rare First Lady who did not write a book, Pat Nixon remains one of the most mysterious and enigmatic public figures in recent history. Ann Beattie, like many of her generation, dismissed Richard Nixon’s wife. Decades later, she wonders what it must have been like to be married to such a spectacularly ambitious and catastrophically self-destructive man.
Beattie, a professor of writing at the University of Virginia, uses the elusive persona of Mrs. Nixon to examine how writers create characters, how they use detail, and what drives their storytelling. Like Stephen King’s On Writing, this fascinating and intimate account offers readers a rare glimpse into the imagination of a writer.
A startlingly compelling and revelatory work, Mrs. Nixon is an insightful and humorous examination of the First Couple who occupied the White House as the baby boomers came of age.
Ann Beattie has been included in four O. Henry Award Collections and in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century. In 2000, she received the PEN/Malamud Award for achievement in the short story form. In 2005, she received the Rea Award for the Short Story. She and her husband, Lincoln Perry, live in Key West, Florida, and Charlottesville, Virginia, where she is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.
Who was Pat Nixon? Aside from being the wife of President Richard Nixon â�� and a very private person â�� she remains mostly a mystery. Now, a new novel by Ann Beattie blends fact and fiction in an effort to sketch the life of the former first lady. More at NPR.org
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“Beattie gives us tantalizing glimpses of Mrs. Nixon, and a fully realized account of fiction, fiction writing, and the fiction writer.”—The Boston Globe
“Irresistible.”—The San Francisco Chronicle
“Strikingly original…Both timely and unique: a postmodern take on Nixon’s life that blurs fact and fiction.”—Entertainment Weekly
“Beattie captures something familiar in Pat, making us care about her.” —Barbara Liss, The Houston Chronicle
“A fascinating look at the writer in her workshop.”—Alan Cheuse, NPR’s “All Things Considered”
“Beattie writes insightfully and with contagious excitement of the artistic process and offers remarkable analysis of the world’s literary greats…Her respect for them is a beautiful thing to behold.”—M.E. Collins, Chicago Sun-Times