I recently finished Kate Christensen’s latest novel, Trouble, due out in June from Doubleday. I’m a huge fan of Kate’s work. She won me over with her misanthropic, chain-smoking character named Hugo in the uproarious story of a foodie who lives in a dilapidated mansion and has to deal with his estranged wife and his older gay uncle. That book, The Epicure’s Lament, is always a favorite handsell of mine.
I was completely happy when Kate won the PEN/Faulkner award for her most recently published book, The Great Man, and thought it was entirely deserved for her intimate look at two biographers vying for the real story of an artist who has recently passed away at the start of the novel.
We hosted her at a joint event between RiverRun Bookstore and the Portsmouth Public Library for a book group discussion and talk back in September of 2008. It’s always intimidating when you get to meet one of your favorite authors, but Kate is incredibly gracious and so down to earth. We both share a love of good food, and we talked about how she incorporates her epicurean leanings into most of her writing.
I’ve been begging one of our lovely Random House reps, Lesley, for months now to get me the advanced reading copy of Kate’s latest. She kindly gave me one and between episodes in season 4 of LOST I read Trouble. Let me tell you right now, folks. It’s good. Very good.
Kate’s the master of whip-smart dialogue and completely believable characters. No matter how down and out they are, you root for them. Her latest is the story of two best friends having their mid-life crisis at the same time. Josie is a Manhattan therapist; Raquel is a rock star who lives in L.A.. Both need to escape from problems in their personal lives, so they meet up in Mexico to console each other.
What I love about all of Kate’s books that I have read so far is that her writing is extremely smart and on top of that, their is an edgy, gutsy voice always mixed into the narrative. That’s more than evident in Trouble, a book that is as hot in parts as spicy Mexican food. Watch out especially for very well-written sex scenes that aren’t in a crappy romance novel! It takes a lot of guts to write about sex in detail in a literary novel, in my opinion.
Read her. As Maud said on The Daily Beast, catch up on Kate’s previous novels before Trouble comes out. I’m really glad that people like Maud and Patrick at Vroman’s are also big fans of Kate. It means I’m in good company with my taste in literature.