Matthew Dicks will present his new novel, “The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs,” at R.J. Julia Booksellers in Madison this Thursday evening, October 8th, at 7:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public; registration is preferred and can be completed online or by calling the store at 203-245-3959. Location: 768 Boston Post Rd.
The author will also appear at Bank Square Books in Mystic on October 14th at 6:00 p.m. and Burgundy Books in Westbrook on October 24th at 12:00 p.m. A full listing of events can be found here.
Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Matthew Dicks.
Dicks is the author of “The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs” (St. Martin’s Press), which was published last month. He has written three previous novels—“Something Missing,” “Unexpectedly Milo,” and “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend,” which was an international bestseller. His books have been translated into more than 25 languages. Dicks’ articles have been published in the Hartford Courant; he has been a featured author at the Books on the Nightstand retreat and is a Moth StorySLAM champion. Also an elementary teacher, he makes his home in Connecticut with his wife, Elysha, and their two children.
Praise for “The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs”:
“An enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It’s the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging.”—She Reads
“Dicks’s fourth novel … is for anyone who has wished they’d stood up for themselves or delivered that perfect comeback at just the right time.”—Library Journal
“Heartwarming and often darkly humorous, this road trip for vengeance fairly cries out for filming.”—Kirkus Reviews
From the publisher:
Caroline Jacobs is a wimp, someone who specializes in the suffering of tiny indignities in silence. And the big ones, too. But when the twinset wearing president of the local Parent Teacher Organization steps out of line one too many times, Caroline musters the courage to assert herself. With a four-letter word, no less.
Caroline’s outburst has awakened something in her. Not just gumption, but a realization that the roots of her tirade can be traced back to something that happened to her as a teenager, when her best friend very publicly betrayed her. So, with a little bit of bravery, Caroline decides to go back to her home town and tell off her childhood friend. She busts her daughter out of school, and the two set off to deliver the perfect comeback . . . some twenty-five years later. But nothing goes as planned. Long buried secrets rise to the surface, and Caroline finds she has to face much more than one old, bad best friend.
THE PERFECT COMEBACK OF CAROLINE JACOBS is an enchanting novel about the ways in which our childhood experiences reverberate through our lives. It’s the story of a woman looking to fix her life through an act of bravery, and of a mother and daughter learning to understand one another. Deceptively simple and highly engaging, this latest novel by Matthew Dicks is perfect for those of us who were last to be picked at sports, and for everyone who is thrilled not to be in high school any more.
Now, Matthew Dicks reveals a few pages from the book of his life …
Hartford Books Examiner: As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
Matthew Dicks: Loud and proud, though I often had to hide my literary lust from my teachers. My friends and I would read books like “Helter Skelter” and Stephen King novels in our elementary school classroom by tearing off the cover and ripping the book into three or four parts so we could all be reading at the same time.
HBE: What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
MD: I never had a bedtime, so there was no under-cover reading. I didn’t have children’s books in the house, so at an early age, I was reading the novels on my parents’ bookshelves. “Jaws,” a book about the Japanese invasion of Wake Island, and a book on the Son of Sam killings. Not exactly child-friendly.
HBE: What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
MD: I just began Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. It’s our next book club pick. Enjoying it so far.
HBE: What one book do you always recommend when asked?
MD: Nathaniel Philbrick’s “In the Heart of the Sea.” It’s the nonfiction account of the whaleship Essex and its encounter with a sperm whale in the nineteenth century. It’s narrative nonfiction at its best.
HBE: Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
MD: I suggest that people start with “Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.” It’s my most successful book to date and has something for everyone. Humor. Heart. Suspense. Even a little adventure, and it can be read by both young and older readers.
HBE: Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
MD: Readers are surprised to hear that I’m often reading Shakespeare for fun. Shakespeare gets a bad rap. He’s not as challenging to read as people think, and the stories are the best. I have yet to meet a student who doesn’t fall in love with Shakespeare over the course of the school year.
HBE: Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
MD: Stephen King. As a boy, his stories were an inspiration to me. As an adult, I continue to be astounded with the way he makes me care about his characters so effortlessly. And his book “On Writing” gave me hope about a career in writing when hope was hard to find. My dream is for him to read one of my novels someday. Even if he doesn’t like my story, I’d love to know that he and I shared that telepathic connection that writing offers, if only for a moment.
HBE: Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
MD: Still waiting for it. I still feel like I’m hanging on the edge of a cliff, struggling to climb to the top of the mountain.
HBE: What is your greatest literary ambition?
MD: My dream has always been to write for a living and teach for pleasure. When my writing career can pay the bills completely and teaching becomes something I do simply for the love of the classroom and my students, that will be a great day.
HBE: Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
MD: … doing great work and should be supported in every way possible. Bringing books to the hearts and minds of readers is a noble pursuit that should be celebrated whenever possible.
With thanks to Matthew Dicks for his generosity of time and thought and to Katie Bassel of St. Martin’s Press for facilitating this interview.
Don’t forget: The author will appear at R.J. Julia this Thursday evening, October 8th, at 7:00 p.m.