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New York 2009 Hardcover Stated First Edition; First Printing Fine in Fine dust jacket 0446540722. Stated First Edition: September 2009, first printing, full number line. Untouched, signed by author on title page; 1.5 x 9 x 6.4 Inches; 480 pages; Signed by Author.
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Warren Spooner was born after a prolonged delivery in a makeshift delivery room in a doctor's office in Milledgeville, Georgia, on the first Saturday of December, 1956. His father died shortly afterward, long before Spooner had even a memory of his face, and was replaced eventually by a once-brilliant young naval officer, Calmer Ottosson, recently court-martialed out of service. This is the story of the lifelong tie between the two men, poles apart, of Spooner's troubled childhood, troubled adolescence, violent and troubled adulthood and Calmer Ottosson's inexhaustible patience, undertaking a life-long struggle to salvage his step-son, a man he will never understand.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
You might say that Warren Spooner, the title character of Pete Dexter's novel, is jinxed from birth. After a long, difficult delivery in a makeshift room in a Georgia doctor's office, he arrives in the world, but his twin brother dies -- and forever remains his mother's favorite. Spooner's father dies soon thereafter, leaving no imprint on the child's memory. Thereafter, Warren blunders awkwardly and hilariously through entire symphonies of criminal hijinks, somehow never exhausting the patience of his stepfather or our sense of humor. Best of all, National Book Award winner Pete Dexter (Paris Trout; Paper Trails) lets us settle into all these misadventures without squandering our sympathy.
Liesl Schillinger
Dexter brings Warren Spooner…to life with uncharacteristic expansiveness and tenderness…Spooner has little in common with Dexter's previous work…It's a conversational novel, roving and inclusive, packed with Southern color and Northeastern grit, with rueful reflection and the contretemps of daily life that can't be avoided even on a remote island in the Puget Sound…[Dexter] ended his novel The Paperboy with the words: "There are no intact men." With Spooner, he demonstrates the impulse that keeps writers at their task: the longing to reassemble the whole; to see, however belatedly, who a person was, or could have been.
—The New York Times
Carolyn See
…here's a novel that's different from anything Dexter has written before…It's new ground and a new tone. Jocose, ironic, even cheery…Dexter seems to look at this life as something of a tall tale, and he's right—there are sentences that don't seem to be exactly his. The book has a Mark Twain feel to it…Not exactly what Pete Dexter usually writes, but madly interesting in what it sets out to do.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

What can you do when your twin brother, dead at birth, is your mother's favorite? This is only one of the burdens placed on young Warren Spooner, the hero of National Book Award-winner Dexter's calamitously funny and riotously tragic new novel. Spooner, who tends toward a life of criminal mischief, turns out to be a baseball phenom, but after an elbow injury puts an end to his pitching career, he ends up a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia, where he's so universally disliked that firing him is at the top of his editor's to-do list. Spooner eventually settles down, becomes a columnist and published novelist, and starts a family. He is dogged, though, by a combination of bad luck and bad judgment, and eventually retreats to Whidbey Island, off the coast of Washington State, where he learns that good fences don't necessarily make good neighbors. Spooner's story is juxtaposed with that of his stepfather, Calmer Ottosson, a naval officer turned high school principal, whose dedication to his family is in direct contrast to his stepson's bellicose adventures. Although raggedly plotted, the rambunctious narrative is filled with hilarious scenes, including a naval burial at sea that goes horribly awry, a literary luncheon featuring Spooner and Margaret Truman that ends with a stampede of little old ladies, and a misguided act of vengeance that backfires and puts Spooner in the hospital. The novel's premise-that life is one big vale of tears and that writing about it wittily and exuberantly is the best one can do-might not work in real life, but it pays off in spades for Dexter and his tragicomically conflicted alter ego. (Sept.)

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Library Journal
Warren Spooner bears an uncanny resemblance to his creator, National Book Award winner Dexter. Like Dexter, Spooner was raised in Georgia, worked as a newspaper reporter in Philadelphia, and was almost beaten to death in a bar fight. More conclusively, Spooner is also the author of a revisionist Western titled Deadwood (1986). Dexter follows his alter ego from childhood to semiretirement on Whidbey Island in Washington. This hilarious fictional memoir has little structure or plot and even less romance. Spooner devotes entire chapters to his favorite dogs but manages only a few dismissive sentences for the shadowy "Mrs. Spooner." Bar fights, bad divorces, car repossessions—the man's life is a 500-page country-and-western song. The glue that holds it all together is the relationship between Spooner and his stepfather, a cashiered naval officer aptly named Calmer. VERDICT There is too much material here, but it is difficult to see where it could be cut. Dexter's prose is razor sharp, and every page has at least one zinger. The Georgia section in particular will remind readers of the great Harry Crews. Don't miss this.—Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles
Kirkus Reviews
From Dexter (Train, 2003, etc.), a rambling, improvisatory narrative of a not-terribly-compelling life. Warren Spooner arrives in unpromising circumstances, after his mother labored for 53 hours and his "better-looking" twin brother was born dead. On the very same day (Dec. 6, 1956), Congressman Rudolph Toebox coincidentally and conveniently dies, leading to an embarrassing sendoff at sea when his coffin refuses to sink. The two stories cross briefly because the commander in charge of the abortive burial at sea is Calmer Ottosson, who eventually becomes Spooner's stepfather. Throughout the novel, Dexter traces the many stages of Spooner's development. For example, he has to deal with his much more talented step-siblings, like prodigy Darrow (named after the lawyer), who learns both to read and to play chess while practically in the womb. In contrast, Spooner's talent, such as it is, is to piss in people's shoes and to confound the deputy with this anonymous crime. Spooner becomes an indifferent student but, unaccountably, a talented baseball player-until his promise crashes with an injury to his elbow. He then becomes a reporter, again with mixed results. Along the way we witness the uneasy relationship between Calmer, who becomes a teacher when mustered out of the Navy-and later has to investigate a scandal involving remedial students in his school system scoring at the 97th and 98th percentiles on standardized tests-and his stepson, who never experiences much success in anything. Dexter's technique is to roam around his narrative at a leisurely pace, multiplying incidents until the episodic ultimately devolves into the disorganized. And his ham-fisted comic approach involves suchhilarity as the aforementioned shoe-pissing and constantly nudging the reader in the ribs in delight at his own cleverness, coining names such as Dr. C. Elmer Cowhurl and the aforementioned Toebox. Ultimately, and lamentably, we wind up not caring about Spooner's fate.
Washington Post
"[Dexter's] is a voice like no other, though James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard may be counted among his distant literary cousins...So, this book is different! Not exactly what Pete Dexter usually writes, but madly interesting in what it sets out to do. I freely admit to a bias: As far as I'm concerned, Dexter can do no wrong."
Los Angeles Times
"In his latest book, newspaper columnist turned novelist turned screenwriter Pete Dexter has taken the literary-psychoanalytic bull by the horns and -- with characteristic and stylish aplomb -- blown smoke in its formidable face. His new novel, Spooner, essentially is an autobiographical roman a clef -- not really true, except in its major incidents; not quite wholly fictional, except, of course, where it is. It's a book that probably will perplex -- and then delight -- Dexter's longtime fans, since it really is a memoir thinly disguised as a novel, and, as such, it's a lot like his life: a big, sprawling mess of a book that's nonetheless nearly always entertaining and, in significant parts, genuinely touching. It's also a wonderful reminder that Dexter's journalistic eye for the tellingly instructive detail, particularly as it evokes character, still is second to none."
USA Today
"A story about a man's struggle to help his troubled stepson by a novelist who writes about trouble better than most anyone."
New York Times Book Review
"Lucky for Dexter, the consequences of the tardy, yet (in his judgment) unfinished release of Warren Spooner's wonderful, terrible life are less fraught, even felicitous.... In some 500 pages, Dexter brings Spooner to life with uncharacteristic expansiveness and tenderness. Spooner is a family epic that digs out the emotions packed in memory's earliest bonds - guilt, resentment, loyalty and love.... In Spooner, he unearths the experiences that underlie this nuanced sensibility, exposing the familial archetypes that shade his characters and directly engaging the potent emotions that emerge obliquely in his other books. It's a conversational novel, roving and inclusive, packed with Southern color and Northeastern grit, with rueful reflection and the contretemps of daily life that can't be avoided even on a remote island in Puget Sound. With Spooner, he demonstrates the impulse that keeps writers at their task; the longing to reassemble the whole; to see, however belatedly, who a person was, or could have been."
Susanna Moore
Pete Dexter, writing of the part played by love in the exuberant life of his hero, Spooner, and the fatal inevitability of the compromises that make life bearable, has given us a novel of picaresque vitality--outlandish, anecdotal, profuse, funny, profound.
Publisher's Weekkly
"Dexter's crowd-pleasing wiles are razor-sharp in this long-awaited novel, the madcap and touching, assured and (ahem) dexterous story of a very Dexter-like Warren Spooner."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446540728
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/24/2009
  • Pages: 469

Meet the Author

Pete Dexter
Pete Dexter began his working life with a U.S. Post office in New Orleans, Louisiana. He wasn't very good at mail and quit, then caught on as a newspaper reporter in Florida, which he was not very good at, got married, and was not very good at that. In Philadelphia he became a newspaper columnist, which he was pretty good at, and got divorced, which you would have to say he was good at because it only cost $300.

Dexter remarried, won the National Book Award and built a house in the desert so remote that there is no postal service. He's out there six months a year, pecking away at the typewriter, living proof of the adage What goes around comes around--that is, you quit the post office, pal, and the post office quits you.

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