11/29/13 PREVIEWING OUR 12/1/13 GUEST BLOGGER JOHN BECKMAN, WHOSE FIRST NOVEL THE WINTER ZOO WAS A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2002 AND WHOSE FORTHCOMING AMERICAN FUN: FOUR CENTURIES OF JOYOUS REVOLT IS ALREADY HIGHLY PRAISED
Kirkus Reviews said The Winter Zoo was “potent and deeply disturbing…the work of a most ambitious and unquestionably gifted writer.”
The New York Times said: “The hero of this first novel, a young man newly arrived in Poland from Iowa, trades his naivety for lessons in youthfulness; Beckman captures the rush of freshly liberated desires in post-Communist Europe.” Beckman taught literature in Poland and France before becoming a professor of English at the United States Naval Academy.
I, as a reader who writes fiction, admire the guts of Beckman for creating a 22-year-old protagonist who opts out, rather than stick around to be dad to his newborn, when given the choice by his weary-with-him girlfriend. I like characters with flaws. Everyone can’t be perfect like I am.
Maybe the wild adventures of wayward young pop Gurney foretell Beckman’s new book due from Pantheon in February: American Fun: Four Centuries of Joyous Revolt. “A serious and original work of history which entertains from the opening pages to the conclusion,” says Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation. Andy Shernoff, founding member of the punk rock band The Dictators, says, “American Fun reads like a graphic novel as John Beckman connects the dots between Thomas Morton, the flappers, Abbie Hoffman and punk rock, celebrating fun as a great American value.”
Beckman, who has taught novel-writing workshops at The Writer’s Center, Bethesda, Maryland, also has stories and essays published in Granta, Arizona Quarterly, McSweeney’s Quarterly, the Wallace Stevens Journal, The Washington Post, and Book magazine. We look forward to having him here on December 1.