Matthew Specktor


An Interview with Owen King and Matthew Specktor, by Brian Gresko

At times, I curate my reading life like a music playlist—selecting the next book in order to complement the one I just finished reading. So upon putting down Owen King’s debut novel Double Feature, which has to do with an aspiring film auteur and his B-moviestar father, I picked up Matthew Specktor’s American Dream Machine, knowing that it also takes the movies as its subject. I did not realize, though, how perfect a pair the two novels would make. Both concern themselves with the creation and consumption of art in American culture, a theme that each explores within a father-and-son story that unfolds over decades. There is a telescopic quality to the novels—the lofty concerns are rooted in the perspectives of expertly drawn characters; their scopes are epic, yet the narratives are intimate, familial.

For all these similarities, the books cover distinct ground. The patriarch in King’s Double Feature, Booth Dolan, rose to fame as a hammy leading man in seventies and early-eighties schlock-fests such as Devil of the Acropolis, in which Booth plays Plato, philosopher and werewolf hunter. Booth’s son, Sam, in opposition to his father, aspires to make serious films. His hopes are dashed when an assistant director recuts Sam’s debut, relegating it to the status of a ridiculous cult classic.

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