PERSONAL: Married Kim Bridgford (a poet); children: Nick. Education: Boston University, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Wallingford, CT. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Houghton Mifflin Company, Trade Division, Adult Editorial, 8th Floor, 222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116-3764.
CAREER: Writer and freelance Web applications developer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Katharine Bakeless Nason Prize for Fiction, Middlebury College/Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 2003, for Rear View: Stories.
Rear View: Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
Stories have appeared in numerous publications, including the Descant, Exquisite Corpse, Northwest Review, and Sundog.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A novel about four men and the game of bocce ball they start in Illinois.
SIDELIGHTS: Pete Duval sets many of the tales in his first collection, Rear View: Stories, in the New Bedford, Massachusetts, area where he was raised. "Almost all of the stories in the collection are based at least in part on actual experience or on an anecdote from my youth or sometimes even a chance bit of conversation," Duval said in an interview on the Houghton Mifflin Web site. "I may not look like it, but I'm always listening." As an example he points to the story "Impala," in which a man in his forties drives an old Impala to New Orleans with his wife in an attempt to recapture the heady days of his youth. According to Duval, the story grew from a piece of conversation he overheard; when discussing a childless couple, one person said, "What are they roommates?" Duval noted, "It was the taunt and the implicit moral judgment of the comment that got me going, that opened an entrance into the narrative."
Catholicism also plays a role in many of the stories in Rear View, such as the story "Pious Objects," which features a forlorn priest talking to a man who has not been to confession in twenty years. The man tells the priest a horrifying story about the defilement of images of the Virgin Mary. The priest remains calm and consoling but is deeply disturbed by the man's confession. Still, he gives the man an easy penance and forgiveness. Commenting on what Duval may be saying in the story, New York Times Book Review contributor Jeff Turrentine noted, "Our complicity in defilement is worth considering. And we should be suspicious of comforting words, and easy absolutions, when our instincts tell us that we're not out of the woods yet."
Critics have generally praised Rear View. Turrentine, for example described the work as "a gritty debut." A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the collection "an impressive start" and noted that Duval has "a lean, efficient style and an understanding of the brutality of life on the economic margins." Writing in Publishers Weekly, a reviewer commented, "Duval is an inventive stylist, but his pacing is hit-or-miss, and the occasional epiphany he delivers fails to balance the leaden glumness of his protagonists." Janet St. John noted in Booklist that "Duval has a fresh voice and approach." The reviewer also commented that the author's "characters, in their strangeness, speak to the universals, from the big questions to regrets."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, July, 2004, Janet St. John, review of Rear View: Stories, p. 1817.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2004, review of Rear View, p. 507.
Men's Health, July-August, 2004, Larry Smith, review of Rear View, p. 94.
New York Times Book Review, September 5, 2004, Jeff Turrentine, review of Rear View, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, May 31, 2004, review of Rear View, p. 46.