Shipwreck by Louis Begley

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A mesmerizing novel of deception and betrayal from the acclaimed author of Wartime Lies and About Schmidt.
John North, a prize-winning American writer, is suddenly beset by dark suspicions about the real value of his work. Over endless hours and bottles of whiskey consumed in a mysterious café called L’Entre Deux Mondes, he recounts, in counterpoint to his doubts, the one story he has never told before, perhaps the only important one he will ever tell. North’s chosen interlocutor–who could be his doppelgänger–is transfixed by the revelations and becomes the narrator of North’s tale.

North has always been faithful to his wife, Lydia, but when one of his novels achieves a special success, he allows himself a dalliance with Léa, a starstruck young journalist. Coolly planning to make sure that his life with Lydia will not be disturbed, North is taken off guard when Léa becomes obsessed with him and he with her elaborate erotic games. As the hypnotic and serpentine confession unfurls, we gradually discover the extraordinary lengths to which North has gone to indulge a powerful desire for self-destruction.
Shipwreck is a daring parable of the contradictory impulses that can rend a single soul–narcissism and self-loathing, refinement and lust.

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Louis Begley's Memories of a Marriage.

About Louis Begley

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Louis Begley lives in New York City. His previous novels are About Schmidt, As Max Saw It, The Man Who Was Late, Matters of Honor, Mistler's Exit, Schmidt Delivered, Shipwreck, and Wartime Lies.
Published December 18, 2007 by Ballantine Books. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Shipwreck

Kirkus Reviews

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She soon adds John to her list, and the two proceed to carry on a now-and-then affair on both sides of the Atlantic that’s exciting for John but promises no great trauma at first.

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Publishers Weekly

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Yet Begley ends the novel on a note of ambiguity, leading the reader to speculate whether the narrator is perhaps North's alter ego, and the entire story a brilliant exposition of the way authors can use the material of their lives to create brilliant fiction.

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Book Reporter

Ultimately Begley, author of the highly acclaimed novel ABOUT SCHMIDT, allows the reader to decide whether or not North is talking to himself --- and that's the brilliance of this mesmerizing story.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of Shipwreck

Entertainment Weekly

''I am by nature shy and uncommunicative,'' says writer John North, the protagonist of this less than satisfying novel by Begley (''About Schmidt'').

Sep 26 2003 | Read Full Review of Shipwreck

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