Craig, Peter 1969-
CRAIG, Peter 1969-
Born 1969, in Los Angeles, CA; son of Steve Craig (a construction contractor) and Sally Field (an actress); married Amy Scattergood (a poet); children: two daughters. Education: Syracuse University, graduated, 1991; graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Home—Iowa City, IA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Hyperion Editorial Department, 77 West 66th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10023.
James Michener fellowship, Copernicus Society.
The Martini Shot (novel), Morrow (New York, NY), 1998.
Hot Plastic (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2004.
Blood Father (novel), Hyperion (New York, NY), 2005.
Peter Craig drew on his own life in writing his first novel, The Martini Shot. The son of actress Sally Field and contractor Steve Craig, he was first seen by American television audiences as the yet-to-be-born child of the Flying Nun, a role his mother continued to play through her entire pregnancy with her first child. His parents had been high school sweethearts and married young. The marriage ended when Craig was six, and he and his brother, Eli, spent time both with their mother in Los Angeles and with their father in an Oregon commune. Their mother, meanwhile, dated a number of well-known celebrities and had a five-year relationship with actor Burt Reynolds.
Good Housekeeping contributor Joanna Powell conducted an interview with mother and son in which she asked Field if she saw herself in The Martini Shot. Field said, "Little pieces. It's full of family stories we all fall down laughing about. He certainly knows what it's like to be around an actor. Even though I tried to keep it behind closed doors, he had heard it all—the complaining, kvetching, and moaning about how hard it is to be out there, with your ego on the line."
The title of The Martini Shot is taken from the tradition of having a round of drinks to celebrate the shooting of the last scene in a film. The main character in the book is Matt Ravendahl, who leaves his rural Oregon home to search for his film star father. Charlie had stopped there eighteen years earlier, just long enough to conceive his illegitimate son. Charlie, who has had a string of wives and mistresses, has another child, Ava, who is also trying to become closer to her father. Charlie's latest movie is a flop, and it is Matt and Ava who bond. Their father, who is surrounded with drug users, including his new, young wife and personal assistant, goes off on an alcohol and drug binge until Matt rescues him; father and son then travel together to Oregon. When Craig was asked by Powell whether there are any aspects of Burt Reynolds in the character of aging film star Charlie West, the author answered, "There probably is, distantly, just because I couldn't have avoided it. But I didn't try for there to be. I remember Burt being a little calmer than Charlie, and having a drier sense of humor." Critiquing the novel, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Craig "is blessed with the ear and eye of a satirist, unfolding his story smoothly in flashbacks of lunacy and pathos," but the reviewer also felt that Charlie's narcissism "leaves little room for Craig to develop his characters." Library Journal critic David Bartholomew said that Craig "writes with style, wit, and a very observant eye."
The father in Craig's next novel, Hot Plastic, is con man Jerry Swift, who is teaching his fourteen-year-old son, Kevin, the tricks of the trade, including identity theft. The story takes place in the 1980s on the West Coast, where the two ply their trade until Kevin becomes ill, and Jerry hires teen grifter Colette to take care of him. She teaches him how to shoplift and more, and Kevin starts to fall for her. But Jerry also desires Colette, and a jealous Kevin listens through the wall when they spend nights together. As time passes, the pasts of all three people catch up with them, relationships are formed and broken, and a final crime is planned that the trio feels will put them on easy street. A Publishers Weekly reviewer noted that "novels featuring quirky characters on the grift have always had a certain knavish noir appeal, and this is a fascinating, funny, beautifully written addition to the genre."
And Booklist contributor Frank Sennett called the novel "a stylish romp."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1998, Whitney Scott, review of The Martini Shot, p. 197; February 15, 2004, Frank Sennett, review of Hot Plastic, p. 1040.
Entertainment Weekly, September 4, 1998, David Hochman, "She Likes Him," p. 75; March 12, 2004, Nicholas Fonseca, review of Hot Plastic, p. 120.
Good Housekeeping, October, 1998, Joanna Powell, "Sally Field and Her Son Peter Craig," p. 35.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2004, review of Hot Plastic, p. 5.
Library Journal, June 15, 1998, David Bartholomew, review of The Martini Shot, p. 105; March 1, 2004, Bob Lunn, review of Hot Plastic, p. 108.
People, September 28, 1998, Johnny Dodd, Alex Tresniowski, "Mommy Sincerest," p. 83.
Publishers Weekly, July 13, 1998, review of The Martini Shot, p. 61; January 19, 2004, review of Hot Plastic, p. 52.
Peter Craig Home Page,http://www.petercraigbooks.com (August 14, 2002).*