Victoria Patterson, author and critic
Victoria Patterson, author and critic

OC Bookly Interview: Victoria Patterson

This week, class-conscious literary star and local girl makes good Victoria Patterson makes bad, very bad, or at least naughty in this, OC Bookly's first author interview. Patterson, whose take on alienation, greed and South County luxury-life mores comes with plenty of winning characterization, style, wit and humor, arrives at her insights by way of Newport Beach and Corona del Mar, where she grew up and, it seems​, read a lot of Edith Wharton, to whom her work is favorably compared.

In a challenge to all that is decent, her novel This Vacant Paradise (2011) and short story collection Drift (2009), empathize with the down and out and, somehow, even the up and out.

Not that they deserve it. Probably my own favorite of the interconnected stories in Drift is about an alienated young woman whose naivete pokes through the bubble-life that's been given her. 

Her brilliant short story collection

Then there's the brain-damaged skateboard kid. Oh, and the waitress working at a restaurant where it's hard to tell who's stealing from whom. Hell, I guess I like 'em all. The cast of characters in Patterson's work includes loser heir, lonely heiress, desperate waitresses, divorced trophy wives and pitch-perfectly rendered dowagers. And, of course, you'll recognize the locale.

Patterson is also a whip-smart critic and excellent teacher. She wrote recently at Tom Lutz's reliably brilliant Los Angeles Review of Books, where she gave Jonathan Franzen a spanking for his recent "appreciation" of Edith Wharton in the New Yorker.  

Rumor has it, Mr. Bib, that Ms. Quiet Woman Head is buried beneath the restaurant under the exact spot where the pseudo-rock and jazz bands play. Her spirit haunts the streets and cannot be defeated. If Ms. Quiet Woman were to open a restaurant, it should be called F*** YOU, I'LL TALK IF I WANT TO.

Please do elaborate on just how brilliant you are, Victoria Patterson, as regards your invention of the totally wickedly beautiful character of a brain-damaged OC teenage skateboarder named, yes, John Wayne.

Stop it some more, Mr. Bib. Stop it some more. John Wayne loves you, as do I.

I'm guessing you were a cheerleader in high school?

Ah  yes, Mr. Bib. Glory days. Sadly, I had to give up the head cheerleader position junior year, as I was overwhelmed with my debutante ball arrangements.
Hey, how about a hypothetical time-travel tourism question! You, Victoria Patterson, OC Weekly Best Author 2011, are hosting expat Edith Wharton (Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, 1862-1937) on her visit to South Orange County. Where would you taker her? By the way, her plane from Seine-et-Oise landed at the new Terminal C at John Wayne (actor, not skateboarder) Airport, she is dead, and she really needs a drink.

VP: I'd take Ms. Wharton immediately to Drybar in Fashion Island, where we'd watch us some Sex in the City while sipping champagne (or guzzling, as might be Ms. Wharton's case), and get our hair blown out in Mai Tais (messy and beachy). Looking good, we'd head to the Balboa Bay Club, or to Josh Slocums for a possible Dennis Rodman sighting. Finally, we'd get down and dirty at The Helm.
Will your two terrific books, the short story collection
Drift and your novel This Vacant Paradise perhaps be on sale, and available for signing by you at the upcoming Literary Orange event, April 14 at UC Irvine?

Yes, Mr. Bib, and also in the trunk of my car at a 2% discount.

Besides supporting the literary arts at Literary Orange, fomenting class warfare and shopping at Fashion Island, what do you for fun?

For shiz and giggles, Mr. Bib, I'm fond of deep breathing Tantric sex

Do you encourage your own creative writing students to read novels and short stories, or spend lots of time talking about the death of reading, Kindles and font size?

Mostly, Mr. Bib, we discuss reality television.

Drift, Victoria Patterson, Mariner Books, 240 pp.,$12.95
This Vacant Paradise, Victoria Patterson, Counterpoint, 320 pp.,$15.95

Andrew Tonkovich hosts the Wednesday night literary arts program Bibliocracy Radio, on KPFK 90.7 FM in Southern California.


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