James J. Patterson's Live from the Reading Room episode 2
In this edition of LFTRR, James J. Patterson reads from the masters, Yeats and Delacroix, before returning to his own work with a new essay from the upcoming Junk Shop Window.
It is like sitting down with a very intelligent friend and having the kind of conversation you’d always wanted to have. —Myra Sklarew
In clothing, Bermuda shorts are a kind of casual formal wear – and in this collection of essays, Bermuda Shorts is the perfect metaphor for James J. Patterson’s fundamentally serious but playful literary style. Patterson grew up with a foot planted in each of two worlds, one in Washington DC, and one in rural Ontario, where his Canadian mother insisted the family spend their summers. His father, one of the wizards of twentieth-century newspaper publishing, introduced him to the big city’s wheels of money and power, which he would later navigate as an entrepreneur. But those Canadian summers introduced him to a different world – one where a cedar strip boat was better than any car, and where the ghosts of those who’d previously inhabited the family’s island house floated out over the water of Lovesick Lake. It is those two worlds that blend in this collection of reflections about what it means to be an artist, an iconoclast, a patriot, and a man.
One of the welcome treats from the emergence of James J. Patterson’s fiction is his penchant for setting his stories in the real America... He’s a welcome addition to the stories of our times. —James Grady
Throwing Chain: The Williston Basin, North Dakota & Montana
To his fellow crewmembers on Bomac Drilling Company, rig number 34, twenty-seven-year-old newcomer Zachary Harper is a mystery. To Marty, the derrick hand, he’s a welcome working body. To Freddy, his chainhand, sees him as another newcomer trying to “break out” in the oil patch. To Jesse Lancaster, his driller, he’s a “worm” — a risk, taken of necessity, who just might make it as a roughneck.
We join Zachary Harper the day after he has left the East Coast, and its security, suits, and ties behind, and the day before he discovers the stark reality that a clean slate is just the cold empty space where the self struggles with the soul.
A tale of trial, risk, sacrifice, and self-discovery, Roughnecks takes its place in the tradition of American literary quest fiction. Is Zachary Harper an Ishmael or a Sal Paradise? A Jay Gatsby or a Huck Finn? Whoever he might be, he seeks self-knowledge, awareness, and authenticity. He will find it on an oil rig, in the Williston basin. Throwing chain.