Man-about-town Charles Dubow recently released his debut novel, Indiscretion, a sultry tale set in the Hamptons. A New York native, Dubow has spent time in Aspen and was a founding editor of Forbes.com. His story of love, lust, and betrayal is told in a powerful voice, and Dubow is poised to make waves among our current literary landscape.
Your debut novel, Indiscretion, was just released. What inspired this intimate story? CHARLES DUBOW:I had the idea back in 1997 when I first started working at Forbes.com. I imagined a happy couple spending a golden summer in the Hamptons surrounded by friends. It was a very happy time in my life, I was recently married and my family’s house in East Hampton had an old barn on it that had been converted into a guesthouse. This was when most of our friends were just starting out in their careers and didn’t have weekend places of their own yet so everyone came to mine. But, of course, that alone wouldn’t make a very interesting story. There needed to be an element of conflict. It was obvious to me back then that it had to do with infidelity—a beautiful young stranger thrown into the mix. I wrote up a brief synopsis and tucked it away, planning on getting to it someday. Every year I’d look at it and think about it again but I could find neither the time nor the courage to write it. Finally, I realized there were no more excuses.
Give us your elevator speech on the setting/plot of Indiscretion?
CD: My editor called it a mash-up between The Great Gatsby and 50 Shades of Grey. I am not sure anyone is being especially well served by that comparison, but it does have a certain pithiness to it.
How did living in Manhattan and spending summers in the Hamptons shape the novel?
CD: There’s good reason why people say you should write what you know. I was inspired to write the book based in large part on my summers in the Hamptons. We had a house there for decades, on Georgica Pond before it became fashionable. It wasn’t until the 1980s when people like Calvin Klein and Steven Spielberg moved in. When I was a child it was pretty sleepy. I was very jealous of my friends who lived closer to town or to the beach. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how lucky I was.
Given the monster success of 50 Shades of Grey, and your novel’s sensual plot, why do you think America is obsessed with such voyeuristic reads?
CD: I’m not sure that voyeurism is an especially American or even 21st century obsession. After all, authors have been writing about the private lives of the well-to-do since the ancient Romans. Look at Petronius’ Satyricon, for example. However, I do think that the main reason for this is that people have always wanted to see how the other half lives—what their pleasures are, their peccadilloes. It’s fun to snoop, right?
What books are currently on your nightstand?
CD: I’m reading the third volume of William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion: Winston Churchill: Defender of the Realm. It’s a brick of a book but deeply engrossing. I am also reading Transportation, a collection of short stories by Nancy Rommelmann, an old friend from Wesleyan, and A House of Gentle Folk, by Ivan Turgenev.
CD: I’ve never encountered a word I dislike, even if sometimes the connotations might be distinctly unpleasant.
Which authors do you most admire?
CD: I’ll answer with those authors I most admire as opposed to those I most like reading or who I would most like to emulate. For example, F. Scott Fitzgerald was a genius but I sure wouldn’t want to have his life. Ditto Evelyn Waugh, whose work I adore but he was apparently a real shit. Therefore, those authors would be Tolstoy, Turgenev, Chekhov, Balzac, Austen, Graham Greene, Le Carré.