Fiction. THE COMPLETE CHARLIE MARTENS TRILOGY is gathered together for the first time: VERNON DOWNS/WORLD GONE WATER/GARDEN LAKES. Charlie Martens is a man desperate for stability in an otherwise peripatetic life. An explosion that killed his parents when he was young robbed him of any chance for normalcy and he was shuttled from relative to relative, left alone to decipher the world he encountered in order to cobble together an answer as to how he should live. Three novels in one omnibus edition.
“Vernon Downs is a gripping, hypnotically written and unnerving look at the dark side of literary
adulation. Jaime Clarke’s tautly suspenseful novel is a cautionary tale for writers and readers
alike–after finishing it, you may start to think that J.D. Salinger had the right idea after all.”
―Tom Perrotta, author of Election, Little Children, and The Leftovers
“Vernon Downs is a brilliant meditation on obsession, art, and celebrity. Charlie Martens’s
mounting fixation with the titular Vernon is not only driven by the burn of heartbreak and the
lure of fame, but also a lost young man’s struggle to locate his place in the world. Vernon Downs
is an intoxicating novel, and Clarke is a dazzling literary talent.” — Laura van den Berg, author
of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears
“Funny and surprising, World Gone Water is terrific fun to read and, as a spectacle of bad behavior, pretty terrifying to contemplate.” ―Adrienne Miller, author of The Coast of Akron
“Charlie Martens is my favorite kind of narrator, an obsessive yearner whose commitment to his worldview is so overwhelming that the distance between his words and the reader's usual thinking gets clouded fast. World Gone Water will draw you in, make you complicit, and finally leave you both discomfited and thrilled.” ―Matt Bell, author of In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods
“It takes some nerve to revisit a bulletproof classic, but Jaime Clarke does so, with elegance and a cool contemporary eye, in this cunningly crafted homage to Lord of the Flies. He understands all too well the complex psychology of boyhood, how easily the insecurities and power plays slide into mayhem when adults look the other way.” ―Julia Glass, National Book Award-winning author of Three Junes
“As tense and tight and pitch-perfect as Clarke’s narrative of the harrowing events at Garden Lakes is, and as fine a meditation it is on Golding’s novel, what deepens this book to another level of insight and artfulness is the parallel portrait of Charlie Martens as an adult, years after his fateful role that summer, still tyrannized, paralyzed, tangled in lies, wishing for redemption, maybe fated never to get it. Complicated and feral, Garden Lakes is thrilling, literary, and smart as hell.” ―Paul Harding, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Tinkers
Jaime Clarke is a graduate of the University of Arizona and holds an MFA from Bennington College. He is the author of the novels We're So Famous, VERNON DOWNS, WORLD GONE WATER, and GARDEN LAKES; editor of the anthologies Don't You Forget About Me: Contemporary Writers on the Films of John Hughes, Conversations with Jonathan Lethem, and Talk Show: On the Couch with Contemporary Writers; and co-editor of the anthologies No Near Exit: Writers Select Their Favorite Work from Post Road Magazine (with Mary Cotton) and Boston Noir 2: The Classics (with Dennis Lehane and Mary Cotton). He is a founding editor of the literary magazine Post Road, now published at Boston College, and co-owner, with his wife, of Newtonville Books, an independent bookstore in Boston.