The English idiom is skeleton in the closet—those shameful secrets a person spends life covering up. When the skeleton begins to rattle and the closet is opened, that person’s response exposes his or her true character more than what the skeleton reveals. This is the basis for many great novels and is central to Kurt Andersen‘s latest novel, True Believers. On Wednesday, September 12, we’ll discuss writing and reading novels with themes of hidden pasts, then on Friday, September 14, Andersen joins us as guest host.
In True Believers, Karen Hollander is a celebrated attorney who recently removed herself from consideration for appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her reasons have their roots in 1968—an episode she’s managed to keep secret for more than forty years. Now, with the imminent publication of her memoir, she’s about to let the world in on that shocking secret—as soon as she can track down the answers to a few crucial last questions.
Today, only a handful of people are left who know what happened. As Karen reconstructs the past and reconciles the girl she was then with the woman she is now, finally sharing pieces of her secret past with her national-security-cowboy boyfriend and Occupy-activist granddaughter, the power of memory and history and luck become clear. A resonant coming-of-age story and a thrilling political mystery, True Believers is Kurt Andersen’s most ambitious novel to date, introducing a brilliant, funny, and irresistible new heroine to contemporary fiction.
Kurt Andersen is author of Heyday and Turn of the Century, and frequently writes for New York and Vanity Fair. He is host and co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning public radio program Studio 360. In 2006, he founded Very Short List, an e-mail service for connoisseurs of culture who would never call themselves “connoisseurs.” He was co-founder of Spy magazine, and has been a columnist and critic for The New Yorker and Time. Andersen lives with his wife and daughters in Brooklyn.
Follow Kurt Andersen on Twitter: @KBAndersen.