PERSONAL: Born in ME; married Allyson Stack (a creative writing instructor); children: two. Education: Attended the University of New Hampshire and University of Delaware; Arizona State University, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home— Edinburgh, Scotland.
CAREER: Prescott College, Prescott, AZ, English instructor; writer.
The Burning: A Novel, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 2006.
SIDELIGHTS: Maine native Thomas Legendre was living in Edinburgh, Scotland, where his wife, writer Allyson Stack, was teaching and studying, when he completed his first book, The Burning: A Novel. Legendre was a student of economics who switched to the study of literature and creative writing, but economics is a major theme in the story, the opening of which was inspired by a successful evening playing blackjack in a Las Vegas casino.
The protagonist, Logan Smith, is in Las Vegas celebrating the completion of his doctoral dissertation. There he meets beautiful blackjack dealer Dallas Cole, who becomes his wife two years later. Like his creator, Logan accepts a teaching position in Arizona, where he revisits the neoclassical free market view of economics while Dallas, who does not adapt well to the new city nor to the idea of her husband spending all of his time working on his theories, develops a serious gambling problem and spends Logan’s trust fund. Logan falls in love with Keris Aguilar, an astrophysicist who introduces him to Nicholas Georgescu, an economist who adds the missing pieces to Logan’s work. Keris is also pursued by Deck, Logan’s supply-sider department rival.
“The love affair between Logan and Keris is rendered with remarkable feeling and credibility,” wrote Stephen Amidon in the New Statesman.“But the novel’s greatest accomplishment is Dallas, a woman of great passions and considerable guile who is nevertheless being burned alive by an economic system that sees human beings as little more than fuel for its mindless and ultimately self-destructive growth.”
In reviewing the novel in the Independent, contributor Matt Thorne wrote that “as well as being one of the few novels of ideas which actually gives the reader something to think about beyond the standard nihilism usually found in such books, Legendre is brilliant at three-dimensional descriptions, bringing to life everything from soda cans to distant constellations. His narrative grip never slackens, even in moments of dense economic theory, and The Burning provides enormous emotional and intellectual satisfaction.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, May 15, 2006, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Burning: A Novel, p. 23.
Entertainment Weekly, July 21, 2006, Tina Jordan, review of The Burning, p. 75.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2006, review of The Burning, p. 595.
New Statesman, March 20, 2006, Stephen Amidon, review of The Burning, p. 56.
Publishers Weekly, May 1, 2006, review of The Burning, p. 35.
Sunday Times (London, England), February 26, 2006, Anna Burnside, review of The Burning.
Guardian Unlimited, http://www.guardian.co.uk/ (April 15, 2006), Carrie O’Grady, review of The Burning.
Independent Online Edition, http://enjoyment.independent.co.uk/ (March 12, 2006), Matt Thorne, review of The Burning.*