Monday, September 26, 2011

Early Praise for Alan Cowell's THE PARIS CORRESPONDENT

Alan S. Cowell's new novel The Paris Correspondent is getting some stellar early review attention:

“Storied globetrotting newspaperman Joe Shelby and his longtime friend and editor Ed Clancy, newly installed as glorified web-copy providers at the Paris Star, curse the exigencies of the digital age while basking in their memories of the hallowed age of print. Shelby, introduced in New York Times veteran Cowell's 2003 debut, A Walking Guide, is one of those hard-drinking, sprawling, larger-than-life characters who finds fulfillment in conflict and regret—and the sound of his own versions of reality. A low-key indictment of an era in journalism in which speed is more important than accuracy and behind-the-scenes struggles now take place in private computer queues, The Paris Correspondent is more boldly a paean to the days when bylines were fought and sweated over, facts ruled—and newsrooms weren't so damned quiet. There isn't much plot, but people, places and war zones whiz by enjoyably and Paris is beautifully evoked (Clancy is married to a classy horse-breeder named Marie-Claire who takes him to all the right events). The British-born Cowell reveals a strong debt to Hemingway in his depiction of the male friendship and the men's identification with the values of a vanishing era (Shelby idolizes the French Romantic poet Gérard de Nerval). There's also a touch of Kingsley Amis in Shelby's satiric dimensions and of Saul Bellow's Ravelstein in the book's late-in-the-day confessions.A stylish, expertly drawn novel about the characters who made journalism what it was, and whose disappearance is making journalism what it is now. – Kirkus Reviews

"This novel is at once a celebration of the romantic life of the foreign news correspondent before the age of the Internet and an elegy for a once-noble profession that has become besieged, mercenary, and driven by the bottom line. At the novel’s center are two old friends, both longtime journalists working in Paris, who are caught between these past and present worlds. The swashbuckling Joe Shelby is fond of taking risks but believes deeply in his work, while Ed Clancy is his admiring but less adventurous friend. The action involves old grudges and a grand love story, along with plenty of discussion about the fallen state of journalism; Cowell (The Terminal Spy) is himself an accomplished journalist, and the novel feels grounded in lived experience. Cowell finds his rhythm as he progresses and builds to a satisfying and poignant conclusion. Recommended especially for journalism buffs." – Library Journal

"High-profile journalist Alan S. Cowell's latest novel is a fast-paced trip into the dark heart of a newspaper office abroad. Addictive and illuminating, it deftly portrays the rivalries and complicated passions at the story's heart. Ed Clancy and Joe Shelby are journalists with The Paris Star, an English-language paper based in Paris. Relics from a time when print news was in its heyday, when being a reporter meant watching a city crumble around you as you called in one last dispatch, the Internet age has taken them by surprise. The two friends are faced with the death of what they hold most dear --- their careers, and, for Shelby, a woman he cannot bring himself to mention. The Paris Correspondent is a tribute to journalism, love, and liquor in a turbulent era. Written in riveting prose that captures the changing world of a foreign correspondent's life, Alan S. Cowell's breakout novel is not to be missed. Writing from experience, his razor-sharp and darkly funny style will win readers the world over.” - Bookreporter

“In The Paris Correspondent, longtime New York Times journalist Alan Cowell undertakes for a second time the risky task of turning his professional life into fiction. The danger lies in paying too much attention to the nuts and bolts of the news business he knows so intimately, evolving rapidly from print to digital, and not enough attention to the nuts and bolts of writing fiction, namely character and plot development. For the most part, though, Mr. Cowell meets the challenge in this second novel featuring the renegade newsman Joe Shelby, whom we first met in Mr. Cowell’s 2003 debut novel, A Walking Guide, and who returns in The Paris Correspondent. But unlike in A Walking Guide, Joe never talks to us directly, for Mr. Cowell has introduced an alterego in The Paris Correspondent’s Ed Clancy, who stands between us and Joe as he reports the unfolding story in a punchy, no-frills style that brings to mind cigar-chomping reporters and clacking typewriters. It’s clear Ed, like Joe, still nurtures a fondness for the old days even as he is making the transition to the digital world as an editor for The Paris Star, a news website that one assumes is the stand-in for, for which Mr. Cowell now serves as a Paris-based senior correspondent. “Newspapers were dying the death of a thousand cuts,” Ed laments. “So many titles had disappeared from the newsstands, replaced by websites or not at all.” Unlike most of the news stories we read these days, The Paris Correspondent provides a satisfying ending, with truth served and the honor of the journalism profession upheld—even if Mr. Cowell pulls an odd switch at the end and makes Joe Shelby address us directly, a jarring change in narrative tone.” – New York Journal of Books

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