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Francis, Patry

Francis, Patry

PERSONAL:

Married; children: four.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, novelist, and short-story writer. Worked as a waitress.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Three Pushcart Prize nominations; two-time recipient of Massachusetts Council for the Arts grant.

WRITINGS:

The Liar's Diary, Dutton (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Colorado Review, Tampa Review, Antioch Review, American Poetry Review, Massachusetts Review, and Ontario Review. Author's work has been translated into German, Dutch, and French.

SIDELIGHTS:

Patry Francis is a novelist, short-story writer, and poet whose debut thriller, The Liar's Diary, originated in "a story from the headlines that I just couldn't forget," Francis related in an interview with J.B. Thompson in Spinetingler Magazine. "An adolescent universally considered a ‘good boy’ from a ‘good family’ had committed a particularly gruesome murder. The writer in me wanted to know who this family was beneath the veneer of respectability. How—and why—had they ignored the signs of trouble?"

In Francis's novel, Jamie Cross is a seriously over-weight and troubled teen who suffers from a learning disability. His mother, Jeanne, is protective and overindulgent of the boy, in part to compensate for her unhappy marriage to the overbearing and controlling Gavin, an orthopedic surgeon. Her life is complicated even further when a new teacher, the flamboyant and free-spirited Ali, arrives at the local school where Jeanne works as a secretary. Ali's behavior has already started the rumor mill turning at school and in the community, particularly in regard to her uninhibited sex life and multiple lovers. As the novel progresses, however, Jeanne and Ali become close friends, with Jeanne finding in Ali the deep friendship she always wanted, and Ali discovering in Jeanne a "conscience" and a sense of morality and self-awareness. Things take a sinister turn, however, when Ali discovers evidence that she is being stalked, and Jamie appears to be the stalker. Jamie explains his actions as nothing more than good-natured childish pranks, but Jeanne is not completely convinced of his innocence. Jeanne also begins to worry that Gavin and Ali are having an affair, but the truth of Gavin's extramarital behavior is even more disturbing. Shocked by the revelation, Jeanne temporarily leaves town to come to terms with the situation, and in her absence Ali is killed and Jamie is arrested for the young woman's murder. As her family disintegrates in violence and deception, Jeanne must struggle to maintain herself while determining whether her son is actually a vicious killer.

Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson commented that "first-novelist Francis does create a disturbing portrait of a hollow family done in by secrets and lies." Francis "gives her characters, even the monster Gavin, some dimension, and the mother-son relationship is genuinely creepy," remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. Library Journal contributor Andrea Tarr praised Francis for a "chilling study of a deeply disturbed, dysfunctional family, its crimes, and its fate."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, October 1, 2006, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Liar's Diary, p. 35.

Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2006, review of The Liar's Diary, p. 864.

Library Journal, November 1, 2006, Andrea Tarr, review of The Liar's Diary, p. 67.

ONLINE

Patry Francis Home Page,http://www.patryfrancis.com (February 24, 2007).

Patry Francis Web log,http://www.blogger.com/profile/7860899 (February 24, 2007), profile of Patry Francis.

Simply Wait Web log,http://simplywait.blogspot.com (February 14, 2006), Web log of Patry Francis.

Spinetingler Magazine,http://www.spinetinglermag.com/ (February 24, 2006), J.B. Thompson, interview with Patry Francis.

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