Wener, Louise 1966- (Louise Jane Wener)

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Wener, Louise 1966- (Louise Jane Wener)


Born July 30, 1966, in Gants Hill, London, England; partner of Andy Maclure; children: daughter.


Novelist, 2002—. Lead singer, Sleeper, 1993-98; also teaches novel-writing and poker courses.


Goodnight Steve McQueen, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2002.

The Perfect Play, William Morrow (New York, NY), 2003, published as The Big Blind, Flame (Durham, England), 2003.

The Half Life of Stars: A Novel, Harper (New York, NY), 2006.



Louise Wener earned a very public reputation as the lead singer for the British rock band Sleeper in the mid-1990s. From 1994 to 1998 the band (which was originally named Surrender Dorothy) had a string of popular hits in Great Britain—songs that recalled British music and dealt with British themes, avoiding American influences—including "In-betweener," "Lie Detector," "Sale of the Century," "Nice Guy Eddie," and "Statuesque." Wener, who fronted for the band and sported glamorous looks, wrote many of the songs the band performed. "I've written loads of stuff—lots of angst-ridden poetry that you write in your teens," she told Sheila René in an interview for the Web site Rocknet. "I kept diaries back then. I didn't write a song until I joined my first band. Their songs were terrible, so I had a go at it to see if I could do any better.

When Sleeper broke up at the end of 1998, Wener maintained a relationship with band member Andy Maclure, with whom she later had a daughter. She also began a promising career as a novelist, publishing Goodnight Steve McQueen (2002), The Perfect Play (2003; published in England as The Big Blind), and The Half Life of Stars: A Novel (2006). In Goodnight Steve McQueen, Wener tells the story of "inveterate loser Danny—formerly Steve—McQueen, [who] plays guitar in the rock 'n' roll outfit Dakota," declared a Publishers Weekly contributor. Danny's band has never had the break it needs to get into the professional circuit. Danny's girlfriend Alison is feeling the pangs of middle age approaching; she wants to start a family, but not with an irresponsible, Peter Pan-type of man who works part-time in a video store. She issues an ultimatum: Danny has six months to launch his long-delayed music career. If he can't accomplish it in that amount of time and won't commit to an adult lifestyle, she'll leave him. Soon Danny has inveigled himself and his three buddies a spot touring as a front for the band Scarface. "By the end of the tour," a Kirkus Reviews contributor stated, "a reviewer has called them ‘the next big thing,’ and the three have dipped into the life of champagne, cocaine, and groupies."

"I think Danny's experiences are reminiscent of mine at the beginning of my Sleeper days," Wener told Beatrice interviewer Rachel Kramer Bussel. "At the start I didn't care what anyone thought. I didn't worry about the consequences of things, I just went out and did them and hoped for the best. That sort of wears off as you get more successful, and it's replaced with an increased sense of self-consciousness. I think that's why I chose to write about a band at the beginning of their career … it can be a blissful honeymoon period." Wener's "knowledge of a small-time touring circuit is spot-on," wrote School Library Journal reviewer Jamie Watson.

In The Perfect Play, Wener evokes the excitement of professional poker-playing in the Las Vegas strip. Audrey Ungar, "a 32-year-old math genius in the midst of an early midlife crisis," according to a Library Journal reviewer, wants to track down her long-lost gambler father, who deserted her years before. She travels to Las Vegas, meets a broken-down hustler named Louie, and becomes obsessed with the game of poker. "Hooked on the game, caught up in Louie's schemes and ambitions," a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote, "Audrey risks all on a trip to Vegas that could change her life and dig up her elusive father." In The Half Life of Stars, divorcée Claire goes on a search for her missing lawyer-brother Daniel, accompanied by her ex-husband and a variety of curious characters, including a boa constrictor named Harvey. A Kirkus Reviews contributor declared, "Under the funky trappings, Wener's third … is a satisfying coming-of-age novel with a sympathetic heroine."



Booklist, March 15, 2004, Keir Graff, review of The Perfect Play, p. 1268; January 1, 2005, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Goodnight Steve McQueen, p. 824; September 15, 2006, Joanne Wilkinson, review of The Half Life of Stars: A Novel, p. 30.

Entertainment Weekly, November 3, 2006, Leah Greenblatt, review of The Half Life of Stars, p. 83.

Guardian (London, England), April 5, 2006, Louise Wener, "What's Wrong with Being a Mother?"

Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2004, review of The Perfect Play, p. 361; January 1, 2005, review of Goodnight Steve McQueen, p. 21; September 1, 2006, review of The Half Life of Stars, p. 875.

Library Journal, April 15, 2004, "Hip Brit Lit," p. 125; January 1, 2005, Christine Perkins, review of Goodnight Steve McQueen, p. 101.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 2004, review of The Perfect Play, p. 46; February 14, 2005, review of Goodnight Steve McQueen, p. 55; August 28, 2006, review of The Half Life of Stars, p. 27.

School Library Journal, July, 2004, Ted Westervelt, review of The Perfect Play, p. 132; September, 2005, Jamie Watson, review of Goodnight Steve McQueen, p. 245.


Beatrice,http://www.beatrice.com/ (July 8, 2007), Rachel Kramer Bussel, "Louise Wener," author interview.

Rocknet,http://www.rocknet.com/ (July 8, 2007), Sheila René, "Rocknet Interview: Louise Wener of Sleeper."