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August 8, 2007

Book Notes - Jeffrey Frank ("Trudy Hopedale")

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published books.

Political satire is a literary genre I seek out and enjoy. Jeffrey Frank, a senior editor at the New Yorker, is one of its masters. Trudy Hopedale offers a glimpse inside the beltline through the eyes of its self-absorbed dual narrators, a vice-presidential historian and society wife and local television personality.

Of the book, David Sedaris wrote:

“Another triumph from one of America’s most reliable and inventive comic novelists. Trudy Hopedale is understated, cunning and relentlessly funny.”

In his own words, here is Jeffrey Frank's Book Notes essay for his novel, Trudy Hopedale:


I was born in Washington, D.C., and for better or worse, it will always be my hometown. Being away, though, had made me want to understand it better, and I’ve been trying (in three novels) to do that. No matter what, I find myself thinking of it as a place where people are propelled by their ambitions and may, in the end, be defeated by their ambitions.

There are two narrators in “Trudy Hopedale”: Trudy herself--a woman of a certain age who loves giving parties and has local talk show--and Donald Frizzé, a young historian who’s probably best known for appearing on television rather than for anything he’s actually written. Neither narrator is very reliable, but both of them enjoy proximity to important people, even if they don’t like them all that much. The Washington cast meanwhile is changing (the Clintons are leaving town and the Bushes will be settling in), and if “Trudy Hopedale” had a soundtrack, Donald and Trudy might hear music they’d think was meant just for them.


1. “Lucky Town,” Bruce Springsteen

There is a lot of hope and uncertainty here --how the house “got too crowded / clothes got too tight/
And I don't know just where I'm going tonight.”


2. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” the Rolling Stones

What else to add? Maybe “But if you try sometimes, well you just might find / you get what you need.”


3. “Put All Your Dreams Away,” Frank Sinatra

I can imagine Trudy murmuring, “Wishing on a star never got you far, and so it’s time to make a new start.”


4. “I’ll Come Runnin’ Back to You,” Sam Cooke

When your lover / husband / wife walks out--and they’ve got a good reason--here is only one way out: “Just call my name, I'm not ashamed, I'll come running back to you.”


5. “Ghost in the House,” Alison Krauss

This is maybe more about being left than about being humiliated (a fate that faces Trudy and Donald), but the words fit: “I don't pick up the phone, I don't answer the door, I just soon be alone.”


6. “Party Girl,” Elvis Costello

Whose fault is it, anyway? “I’m the guilty part and I want my slice.”


7. “I Just Don’t Like This Kind of Livin’,” Hank Williams

As the next line has it, “I’m tired of doin’ all the givin’.”


8. “All the Roadrunning,” Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris

“Trudy Hopedale” ended before this album was released, but I can imagine Trudy and Donald hearing it today and thinking about the year ahead. “The show's packing up,/I sit and watch the convoy leaving town,/ There's no pretending I'm not a fool..”


Jeffrey Frank and Trudy Hopedale links:

the author's website
the author's Wikipedia entry
the author's page at his publisher
Jeffrey Frank's articles at the New Yorker

Bloomberg News review
Buffalo News review
Boston Globe review
New York Observer review
New York Post review
Palm Beach Post review
Publishers Weekly
Washington Post review

Express interview
"To the Staff" short fiction at Five Chapters


also at Largehearted Boy:

Previous Book Notes submissions (authors create playlists for their book)

Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2007 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2006 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2005 Edition)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (2004 Edition)


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