“This is a book of true stories the way I remember them. I’m sure I’ll get a few things wrong,” suggests the mega-bestselling novelist in this blithe blend of personal asides, fan trivia, and hot takes. The dozens of sections skim the major stages of Patterson’s life, including his childhood in Newburgh, N.Y., his early love of reading, his aspirations to become a writer, his time in the advertising industry (where he claims to have coined the slogan “I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid”), and his astonishing commercial success as a novelist. As Patterson makes crystal clear, readers in search of a straightforward and detailed autobiography won’t find it here (“Robert Caro or Walter Isaacson, I’m not”)—but they’ll get the lowdown on his first kiss (name, Veronica Tabasco), insights into his craft, and colorful accounts of the many celebrities he’s crossed paths with, among them Hugh Jackman and Charlize Theron, both of whom “look amazing in real life. Also, they don’t seem full of themselves.” Occasionally, Patterson’s jocular style feels at odds with his material, as when he glibly weighs in on the U.S.’s systemic problems: “It isn’t white, Black, or brown... it’s jerks.” Still, this uncut look into the famed author’s mind is sure to intrigue his many fans—and critics.(June)
From the Publisher
One of the greatest storytellers of all time, Patterson has led an amazing life. James Patterson By James Patterson brings to mind Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I love the pithy, bright anecdotes, and at times his poignant narrative will bring you to tears.”—New York Times bestselling author Patricia Cornwell
“The book was damn near addictive. I loved it. Patterson recounts turning points and life-shaping lessons in short, riveting bursts that inform, entertain, and satisfy—then propel you into the next story. That Patterson guy can write!” —Ron Howard
“James Patterson does it again. The master storyteller of our times takes us on a funny, poignant, and ultimately triumphant journey through his own life. If you are among the many millions of us who enjoy reading Patterson’s books, or if you haven’t discovered him yet, you’ll love reading this one too.”—Hillary Rodham Clinton
“I felt I was interviewing James Patterson under the highest permissible dose of sodium pentothal, the truth serum, for hours—and he spilled the whole story of his truly astonishing life and experiences and the absolute unlikelihood that he would become the best-selling fiction author of all time.”—Bob Woodward
Patterson is one of the most successful writers of crime fiction alive today, with more than 90 suspense and intrigue novels to his credit. By his own admission, 31 idea files currently sit on his desk, and he often turns out six new books a year. How does he do it? Patterson attempts to answer that question in this memoir about his writing career. (The answer turns out to be that he draws up an outline, then writes fast; but he also collaborates with co-authors, including Bill Clinton and Dolly Parton.) Patterson'sdebut novel, The Thomas Berryman Number, was rejected by 31 publishers but won the Edgar award for Best First Novel in 1977; he was then a successful advertising executive, and he retired to write full-time a decade later. If anyone should be able to write an interesting memoir, it's Patterson. Unfortunately, he hasn't. Instead, readers get a string of choppy chapters—many one or two pages long—offering platitudes instead of insight; even his advice on how to write is fatuous. There's too much name-dropping (breakfast with Tom Cruise; golfing with President Clinton; Serena Williams bugging him for an autograph), as well as too much self-congratulation, self-promotion, and cheap wisdom in this banal, disappointing book. VERDICT Given Patterson's audience, this throwaway memoir will be popular even though it isn't merited.—David Keymer
One of the bestselling authors of all time celebrates his life and career.
Publishing juggernaut Patterson offers an upbeat, lighthearted view of his happy and productive life to answer two important questions: “How did a shy, introspective kid from a struggling upstate New York river town who didn’t have a lot of guidance or role models go on to become, at thirty-eight, CEO of the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson North America? How did this same person become the bestselling writer in the world?” In short, punchy chapters, the author sketches his childhood in Newburgh, New York, where he went to Catholic schools, took piano lessons from an elderly nun, played sports, and eagerly accompanied his grandfather on early-hour runs delivering frozen foods and ice cream. After graduating from Manhattan College, Patterson got a full fellowship to a doctoral program at Vanderbilt but left after a year for two reasons: Staying would have thrown him back into the Vietnam draft lottery, and he didn’t see his future in academia. From an entry-level job as a copywriter at Thompson New York, Patterson rose to become creative director and, by the late 1980s, CEO. He fashions sprightly anecdotes of his work among the mad men of the advertising world. At the same time, he was writing at least two bestselling novels per year. In 1996, he quit to write full time. Patterson’s prolific output includes several mystery series, children’s books, romance novels, and nonfiction, sometimes co-authored: Dolly Parton (“down-to-earth, genuine, thoughtful, smart as a whip, funny, and self-deprecating”) and Bill Clinton are among his collaborators. Along the way, he’s met scores of famous people whose names drop like ripe apples: Tom Cruise, Warren Beatty, Idris Elba, George and Barbara Bush, and Clint Eastwood, among others. He and his wife have become literacy advocates, donating books and money to schools and libraries. A list of beloved titles appends the memoir.
A brisk, entertaining read.