Almost Famous

Peppered with local rock 'n' roll references, Valley novelist Jaime Clarke's new book proves a sharp satire of celebrity culture

On the surface, it might appear that the fame gene features prominently in Clarke as well. For one, he threatened a major literary magazine after it ran a sour review of his work; now he's donating precious book royalties to a "cause," and his new novel reads like it's ready-made for lucrative screen options.

Although using a more sensible attention-getting tactic than his book's protagonists, it might seem, to some, anyway, that Clarke has still managed to pull off a clever get-famous-quick scheme.

"In the worst ways, Fitzgerald's writing made him a celebrity," Clarke says, sounding almost aghast at the implication that his actions might be seen as strictly self-serving. "I mean, if I was gonna do that, I would have done it on a grand scale. I wouldn't have come back here from New York, which, of course, is the media capital of the world. Now, being a writer, nobody knows who you are. That is the funny thing. I am a writer, and that's it."

The last comment is a telling one.

After a fall reading tour of colleges, Clarke plans to be back in Brooklyn by January. Because he's no different from most authors of contemporary fiction, he will then be broke, his publishing advance long since spent. February will see him out hunting for a job in the northeastern snow.

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