October 1999 in San Francisco
November 1999 in Sacramento
The GoodLife, Keith Scribner’s first novel, was published this fall. The story takes as its central incident the 1992 abduction of an Exxon executive in Morristown, New Jersey. The shocking events of a kidnapping are told from several points of view over the course of five days. The GoodLife is a story of our times, a literary portrait of America’s pursuit of the good life gone awry, presenting the most extreme of our realities–self-deception, greed, faith, and regret. It is also about class in this country and conflicting interpretations of the American Dream.
“I wrote a lot of The GoodLife while living in Turkey,” Scribner says. “As I look back over the novel now, some of the scenes that get closest to the American sensibility are the ones I wrote there. It must be because of the perspective I gained living in a place so foreign. With similar ends in mind, I’ve given an equal voice to each of the five main characters in The GoodLife, hoping each offers perspective on the others.” Indeed, the characters implicitly comment on one another, and as a whole they serve as a panoramic picture of American passions, ideals, ambitions, and failures.
“When I started writing the novel,” Scribner continues, “I realized a single narrator couldn’t tell this story. The dreams and justifications of the kidnappers were as interesting to me as the story of the man they abducted.” The novel also portrays the kidnapper’s father, a seventy-five-year-old man who knows nothing of the abduction, and the victim’s wife, struggling to maintain her hope and faith as she waits for her husband’s return.
Scribner was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and he currently teaches fiction in Stanford’s Creative Writing Program. He has worked as a carpenter, mucked oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico, driven a taxi in Boston, and taught in Japan, Turkey, and New Jersey. His short stories have appeared in American Short Fiction and North Atlantic Review. He is working now on his second novel.