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Victoria Patterson picks the place we meet for lunch, Alta Coffee in Newport Beach, where years ago she waited tables. Walking to the back, she spots a magazine article pinned to a bulletin board. Wordlessly but with great emotion, she places a palm on his photo. As a novelist and short-story writer, Patterson has spun literary gold from her insider access, but also because of her ambivalence about it. Like Wharton, she explores social hierarchies and class prerogatives with a penetrating and critical eye.
I remember. At 33, the woman feels pressure from her friends and family to use her beauty and sex appeal to attract a rich husband—or risk losing her social standing. The dark portraits of her hometown drew the attention of the literary establishment. That makes her work exciting for a lot of her readers. But her autobiographically grounded work got a different reception closer to home. My dad was so upset. I thought I was out.
Patterson compares the sensation of writing about Newport Beach to being a dog with a rag doll in its mouth, slamming it right and left. Its characters are more than shallow and casually cruel, capable of savage, soul-crushing evil. Patterson is relaxed and uninhibited. Her brown hair frames a heart-shaped face, and her green-brown eyes shine when she laughs, which she does often. Patterson had an Nasty Newport Beach girls childhood. She and her older brother were close, and their parents gave them free rein to roam together. It was kind of fun and exciting and scary.
The family settled closer to her maternal grandparents in Yorba Linda when she was in the second grade, and then they decamped to Newport Beach as she started seventh grade. He went with their father to San Clemente while she stayed in Newport Beach with her mother and stepfather.
To make matters worse, she was miserable at Corona del Mar Middle School and later the high school. One incident is emblematic of those days. Hers was the only face turned to the camera, startled, a whooshed fan of kinky hair, a glimmer of metal from the hardwire of her braces.
She was pale, but appeared ghostlike because of the flash. The caption under the photograph: What planet are you from? A habitual journal-keeper who excelled in English classes, Patterson recorded everything she witnessed: conformity, chauvinism, materialism, competitiveness.
Conversant in Spanish, she loved the warm feeling of welcome at those celebrations. Her sense of adventure and the need to escape also contributed to her teenage experiments with alcohol, drugs, and sex. By the time she graduated from Corona del Mar High School inshe had a serious drinking problem.
After a couple of semesters of bad behavior at Chapman University and Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, she dropped out and returned to Orange County. She was So they knew me when I was really, really raw. They were very sweet to me. I stayed for a long time. At 22, she was ready to return to school and enrolled at UC Riverside, where she majored in English literature. She married, had kids, continued working as a waitress, and began turning her trove of material into short stories.
He agreed to represent her and sold it to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Eventually, her work came to the attention of Jack Shoemaker, editorial director of Counterpoint Press. Shoemaker took Patterson under his wing. I feel like I have permission to go wherever I want.
But she inevitably circled back because of her fascination with the Haidl case. The teenage perpetrators videotaped the crime, and the tape was used as evidence in the two lengthy trials that followed. When the victim came forward on the 10th anniversary of the assault to identify herself, Patterson contacted her.
The victim told her about plans to write a nonfictionand gave Patterson permission to go ahead with a novel.
Patterson says she felt an immediate empathy with the girl. Despite her identification with the girl, Patterson decided to tell the story from a male point of view. Even comes into possession of the video the boys used to film the crime and must decide whether to turn over the incriminating evidence to the police, or destroy it and stay loyal to his family. As the mother of two teenage sons, Patterson says she began to think about the motivations and circumstances that might lead young men to commit a violent sex crime.
I was trying to connect the dots to find out how it could happen for men to think this was OK. Women are sort of nonentities in the whole thing, or less than human. As she wrote, she found that the connection she instinctively felt for the real-life female victim extended to her male characters, including the father who tries to protect his son.
Which was a surprise to me. That, for me, was the biggest surprise. It tries to assess the damage and the environment for everyone. Even her parents have come around. I know they are. Still, she seems nervous about the local response this time. I wonder about that. After lunch, we say goodbye in front of the cafe, and Patterson he back in for more catch-up with her friends. She likes to keep tabs on Newport Beach news.
She might not be done with Newport Beach. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. These cookies ensure basic functionalities and security features of the website, anonymously. This cookie is used for determining whether the user has accepted the cookie consent box.
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