Monday, July 2, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour - An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

The sprawling narrative of five siblings, born in the 1940’s, beginning on the day John Kennedy was shot and ending on 9/11. Between these two iconic dates, we follow the fortunes, love affairs, marriages, divorces, successes and failures of the Pearls, an immigrant Polish-Jewish family, from the Lower East Side of New York, to Long Island and beyond.

This book is a little different than my usual read, but thought I'd highlight it for anyone getting tired of my usual werewolves and urban fantasy diet. :)

You can read more excerpts on the Scanvenger Blog Tour and enjoy the author's thoughts on scripts vs. novels in the below post. Enjoy!

It was a little early for that. Michael was not even 21 yet, and Naomi was a year younger. Still, he could see it working out. She was smart, hard-working and nicely put together. When he brought her to frat parties he could see the guys checking her out.

In the kitchen, he hefted the heavy tub onto the counter, where Delroy, the hired black dishwasher, worked.

“Them boys don’t never stop eating, do they?”

“They’re growing boys, Delroy.”

“Yeah, well they can grow this.” And he took one of his hands out of the tub and cupped his genitals. As he said that, he raised the volume on the radio, an FM jazz music station out of Ithaca. A funky sax solo came out of the Westinghouse portable over the sink.

“Gerry Mulligan.”

“He’s pretty cool.”

“For a white boy…”

Then two things happened at once. From the dining room he heard someone shout, “Mickey. More rice pudding.”

Scripts vs. Novels: Peter Lefcourt’s Take on the Similarities and Differences

The similarity pretty much begins and ends with the fact that both careers involve writing. But that’s about as far as it goes. As many other writers, I came to Los Angeles with the intention of making enough money to finance my lifestyle as a novelist. As it turned out, I found that television writing was not only lucrative but a good apprenticeship in the art of story-telling. You learn how to tell a story economically, which is an invaluable skill in fiction writing. And you learn how to write to a deadline. On the other hand, you soon learn that in Hollywood the writer is a fungible element in filmmaking, summarily replaced by another writer when he/she offers resistance to all the “creative” input from directors, studio execs, producers, and actors. You are, essentially, a hired gun, at the beck and call of others – a well-paid hired gun perhaps, to be sure, but one with very little control over the product.

Moreover, there is very little “voice” in screenwriting. In books it is often the way you tell a story and not the story itself that compels readers. I am drawn to language and voice; and with the possible exception of a facility for dialogue (a skill that is almost impossible to teach: I learned how people talk driving a cab in New York in the sixties – an education worth more, in my opinion, than a PHD in Creative Writing) -- these elements are not valued in screenwriting.

Nevertheless, Hollywood has allowed me the wherewithal to travel a great deal, to perfect the craft of story telling and, ultimately, to reinvent myself as a novelist and have both careers mutually reinforce each other. I’m not sure I would have succeeded in one without the other.

The Author:
Peter Lefcourt is a refugee from the trenches of Hollywood, where he has distinguished himself as a writer and producer of film and television. Among his credits are “Cagney and Lacey,” for which he won an Emmy Award; “Monte Carlo,” in which he managed to keep Joan Collins in the same wardrobe for 35 pages; the relentlessly sentimental “Danielle Steel’s Fine Things,” and the underrated and hurried “The Women of Windsor,” the most sordid, and thankfully last, miniseries about the British Royal Family. He is a 30 handicap golfer, drinks too much good wine, and has never been awarded the Nobel Prize for anything.


  1. I really enjoyed this book, but not as much as the first book of his I ever read. The Dreyfus Affair is still my favorite book of his.

    1. If I wasn't so backed up, I might give it a try. Some day I'll catch up on my reading. Some day...

  2. It's been a really long time since I've read anything not in the paranormal realm as well. But I love when I come across books like this that are so interesting it's hard not to be intrigued.

  3. Tired of your usual posts? Never! ^_^ Not certain this one is for me, but enjoyed the change of pace just the same.

  4. It's good to get out of your reading comfort zone once and a while. I like these types of books. I should check it out.

  5. Good for you for trying new things. That's how I felt with "Pushing the Limits" - I hardly ever read contemporary because I don't like the "fluff" (but PTL was anything but fluff). Great review!

  6. this sounds so good, i'd seen it around before.