John Dufresne is the author of eleven previous books, including three fiction writing guides. A professor in the MFA program at Florida International University, he lives in Dania Beach.
A wizard's brew of broad humor and genuine tragedy marks Dufresne's second novel, as it did his acclaimed first (Louisiana Power & Light, 1994). Narrator Lafyette (Laf) Proulx is a world-class schlemiel. Approaching 40, he knows only one thing-that he wants to write. So he quits his job as a high-school teacher, leaves his wife and moves in with his mistress, taking with him only his dog and his typewriter. Dufresne has a ball with Laf's literary follies, especially the rejection letters from journals like Pond Apple and Incomplete Flower ("We publish writing that counts, friend, that redefines and reshapes the world"). He also goes to town with Laf's manic brainstorming for story ideas-one of which, a tale of middle-aged lovers, evolves into an effective mirror of Laf's own personal development. Events turn serious when Laf's mistress, whose family is a marvel of violent and violently funny dysfunctionality, discovers she has cancer. Laf is thrust into the role of caretaker, a job for which he seems eminently unsuited. The novel never quite reaches the tragicomic heights of its predecessor, and in making Laf see the world through the lens of his literary ambition (or pretension), Dufresne has to ward off a certain parochial preciousness. But for all that, he weaves a powerful spell, proving himself once again a writer of great energy and a big, open heart. Major ad/ promo; author tour.(Jan.)
"Rarely have I laughed so often while reading a book or, coming to the end, cried so hard. Love Warps the Mind a Little is a masterpiece of the genre that writers call the 'funny-sad novel,' where humor both defies and gives shape to grief. It is rich entertainment, sheer lunacy, moonshine for the wounded heart." -- Julia Glass, author of I See You Everywhere - NPR's All Things Considered
Bad memories for Dufresne, who won praise for Louisiana Power and Light (LJ 6/1/94)? Here, an aspiring novelist drops out of one life to write and into another that proves a lot messier than expected.