Tag Archives: John Dufresne

Wit and wisdom meet in the sweet howl of Wylie Coyote

I Don’t Like Where This Is Going, by John Dufresne. Norton. 256 pages. Hardback $25.95.

Wylie Coyote is back, the original and highly engaging character readers met in “No Regrets, Coyote” (2013, reviewed in these pages). The publisher is uncertain about whether to use the phrase “A Wylie Coyote Novel” or “A Wylie ‘Coyote’ Melville Novel.” Me, I don’t care. I just want more. I like where this is going. Wonderfully wacky, and yet suspiciously sane, this is hoot noir – a new subgenre. IDONTLIKEWHERETHISISGOING_978-0-393-24468-7

Plot may not be its main interest. When Mr. Dufresne provides in his Acknowledgments a “thanks to Jill Bialosky for finding the story in the manuscript,” one can take it as a kind of confession. There’s something jazz-like in Dufresne’s thought process and prose, an improvisational wizardry of the highest order. Pyrotechnics, puns, and even a bit of prophesy. When South Florida meets Las Vegas, anything can happen. You can forget about who killed two young women and still have a wonderful – though frequently disorienting – experience.

Wylie and his good friend Bay Lettique have left home for a while. Things have become uncomfortable in Melancholy, Florida; mobsters are after them. Wylie is a therapist turned sleuth; Bay is an illusionist – sleight of hand his specialty – and a gambler. Soon after arrival in this mecca of delusion and corrupt values (their first stop is the Luxor), Bay gets to work in the casino and – once they are moved into a proper longer-term residence – Wylie volunteers at the Crisis Center.

The precipitating event happened back at the Luxor. Something caught Wylie’s attention up at the apex of the pyramid when a women fell over a balustrade and plunged to her death. Mr. Dufresne’s description of this seminal event, which I have no space to quote, is quite marvelous and sets high expectations for the rest of his story, expectations he meets and often surpasses. The detail and the distinctive evaluative thought process is given to Wylie himself. After all, he is the sleuth narrator of these experiences.



Murder, accident, suicide? Once readers discover who this women is, and why she is in Las Vegas, they are on their way to the Q & A sequences that are at the heart of detective-centered crime fiction. What is most curious is the reaction of the officials who visit the crime scene. Soon after, they don’t seem to have any knowledge anything untoward happening at the Luxor. Nothing in the newspaper or on television. Then come only denials by the police spokesperson. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the August 17, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the August 18 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – I Don’t Like Where This Is Going

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Florida Heritage Book Festival and Writer’s Conference 2016



PO Box 4011
St. Augustine, FL 32085-4011

Friday, Sept. 16 offers a day of workshops dedicated to the working writer committed to improving his or her craft through face-to-face guidance by writing professionals. Whether you’re a veteran or an emerging talent looking for that spark of inspiration and feedback on your writing, the FHBF Writers Conference can help you.

Two sessions run concurrently in each time slot.

Friday Writers Conference Schedule

9:00                                                     Michael Morris                        Joe Gisondi

10:00                                                   John Dufresne                         Brad & Darlyn Kuhn

11-12:30                                              Lunch & Keynote by Susanna Daniel

12:30                                                   Susanna Daniel Signing

1:00                                                     Roy Peter Clark                      Jennie Jarvis

2:00                                                     Terry Griffin                           Cecilia Milanes

3:00                                                     Peter Meinke                           John Henry Fleming

4:00                                                     Robin Lippincott

5:00-5:30                                           Book Signings

Lecture Titles & Descriptions

Michael Morris: “Creating Characters Who Stand the Test of Time”

The workshop will focus on character development, capturing oral history and research for fiction, with an emphasis on the historical genre.

Joe Gisondi:Finding Bigfoot & Developing Scenes”

Gisondi, author of Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot and a professor of journalism, traveled to eight locations across the country, trekking into swamps, mountains, state parks, and remote woods with people in search of bigfoot as well as fame, fortune, adventure, and shared camaraderie. In this session, he’ll show you how to develop scenes before, during and after you’ve spent time in a locale through research, interviews and observations.

John Dufresne: “How to let the necessity of plot guide your writing.”

Brad & Darlyn Kuhn: “Bookstores & Beyond: Marketing in the Age of Amazon”

Learn how to brand yourself and sell your work from two writers who make a living at it.

 Susanna Daniel: “My Fictional Floridians: Point of View and Narrative Shape”

An author’s choice of point of view not only helms a narrative, but determines how that narrative will be imagined by the reader and how it will make the reader feel. Susanna Daniel will discuss how point of view shapes character, structure, and language in each of her three novels, and how to access the most vivid, astute, and compelling point of view in your own work.

Roy Peter Clark:  “Writing Tools:  50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer”

Based upon a book by that title, Roy Peter Clark will reveal the secrets of the writing process, from nuts and bolts to special effects to blueprints for stories to useful habits. These tools are proven to spark an immediate improvement in your prose.

 Jennie Jarvis:  “Crafting the Character Arc”

Many writers think that, just because they have their basic structure in place, their stories are destined to succeed. The problem with many narratives, however, can often come in those places between the plot points. While many books on the craft of writing state that characters need to be three dimensional and change, a beginning writer isn’t always sure how to turn these rather conceptual ideas into something a bit more concrete. Join award winning author and professor Jennie Jarvis as she details a step-by-step practical guide for beginning writers to use in order to ensure they create characters both dynamic and engaging.

Terrell Griffin: “From Self-Published Author to Number One National Best Seller: The Art and Craft of Writing a Mystery Novel”

Cecilia Milanes:  “Our American Lives: Fact/Fiction/Film and Craft”

Peter Meinke:  “The Writing Life:  Habits, Attitude, Luck and Poems”

Join Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke as he reads various poems “about” writing, talks about his writing habits, and describes his experiences during a long career.

John Henry Fleming: “Storybrain: What Recent Discoveries in Neuroscience Mean for Fiction Writers”

For the first time, thanks to recent scientific developments, we’re getting a real-time look at how the brain responds to stories. The results are fascinating and surprising; what do they mean for fiction writers? How might our new understanding of the brain influence the craft of fiction? In this session, you’ll learn new ways of thinking about your stories and gain craft advice to help you create a vivid and meaningful experience in the minds of your readers.

Robin Lippincott: “A Good Title is Not Hard to Find”

As a teacher of fiction writing for many years, it has been my experience that a lot of writers aren’t very good at titling their work, and yet the significance of a compelling title that fits cannot be underestimated. In this lecture, I’ll examine why titles are so important, and also some guidelines by which to avoid bad titles, as well as how to create effective and meaningful titles. Along the way, we’ll look at some good (and even great) examples, as well as some bad ones.

For Book Festival dimension and registration, click on link given above. 

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Sanibel Island Writers Conference 2013

Location: Sanibel Island, Florida

Event Date: November 7-10, 2013
Application Deadline: September 30, 2013
E-mail address: tdemarch@fgcu.edu

The eighth annual Sanibel Island Writers Conference, sponsored by Florida Gulf Coast University, will be held from November 7 to November 10 at the BIG ARTS center and the Sanibel Public Library on Sanibel Island, Florida. The conference offers workshops in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, as well as manuscript consultations, readings, panels, concerts, and book signings. Faculty and visiting writers include poets Richard Blanco, Beth Ann Fennelly, Kathleen Rooney, and Emma Trelles; fiction writers Lynne Barrett, Lisa Borders, Christopher Castellani, Brock Clarke, Benjamin Percy, and Laura Valeri; and creative nonfiction writers Steve Almond, Roxane Gay, Kristen Iversen, Darin Strauss (author of prize-winning memoir Half a Life), and Nahid Rachlin. The cost of the conference ranges from $250 to $400. For a manuscript consultation, submit up to 10 pages of poetry or prose with a $75 fee by September 30. General registration is first come, first served. Visit the website for an application and complete guidelines.

halfalifepaperbackParticipants at all stages of development—from notebook scribblers to published novelists—are invited to attend a variety of morning workshops in fiction, poetry, songwriting, children’s literature, journalism, screenwriting, and creative nonfiction; afternoon panels in publishing & editing; and nightly readings & concerts.  All scheduled events are presented by celebrated and experienced writers and teachers, and open to full-time registrants. The conference welcomes any aspiring writer who wants to create new work or refine a project already in progress.

Sanibel Island Writers Conference, Reed Hall 111, Florida Gulf Coast University, 10501 FGCU Boulevard South, Fort Meyers, FL 33965-6565. (239) 590-7421. Tom DeMarchi, Conference Director.

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A new kind of sleuth joins the noir patrol

No Regrets, Coyote, by John Dufresne. W. W. Norton. 352 pages. Hardcover $25.95.

One reason that I found so much to enjoy in this highly original version of Florida noir is that the author seems to have had a blast writing it. It’s as if he responded to the challenge, perhaps offered around the table at a writers’ retreat or watering hole, of placing “No Regrets, Coyote,” a phrase from a Joni Mitchell lyric, into a sentence and then writing a novel titled with the same phrase.  NoRegretsCoyote

Mr. Dufresne’s novel is filled with the oddball names of its large cast of characters, outlandishly funny puns, all kinds of lists, and friendly symbolism. By naming his neighboring South Florida towns Eden and Melancholy, the author tells all we need to know about the dream and the reality of a material culture sleaze factory that one can, ironically, hold so dear. But he will show us much more.

Meet protagonist Wylie “Coyote” Melville. Wylie, who has a practice as a family and individual therapist, also does volunteer forensic consulting for the Eden Police Department. His special skill, as he puts it (he’s the narrator), is his ability to “read faces and furniture. I can look at a person, at his expressions, his gestures, his clothing, his home, and his possessions, and tell you what he thinks, if not always what he is thinking.” Interesting disclaimer!

In his private practice, Wylie helps his clients “shape their lines into stories, so that the lives finally make some sense. A lack of narrative structure, as you know, will cause anxiety.” Who is Wylie, or Mr. Dufresne, talking to here? Other writers?  Book reviewers? How much anxiety will he treat us to?



The case at hand seems to be a murder-suicide: “Five bodies, one weapon, one suspect, much blood,” says Detective Sergeant Carlos O’Brien as he summons Wylie over the phone. Wylie is suspicious of the confession/suicide note typed by one Chafin R. Halliday.

Oh, yeah, it’s Christmas eve.

The novel progresses with Wylie being able to do some investigating, though often roadblocks are set in his path. Just as often, his pursuit of the truth about this massacre is taken off track by the vagaries of Wylie’s own life: episodes involving his family – especially his obnoxious sister Venise and his demented father; episodes involving a wide range of nutty friends and acquaintances; and episodes involving his therapy practice. All provide opportunities for Mr. Dufresne to expand his dazzling portrait of the South Florida milieu. . . .

To enjoy the entire review, as it appears in the August 7, 2013 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the August 8 Bonita Springs edition, and the August 15 Naples edition, click here: Florida Weekly – Dufresne 1  and here: Florida Weekly – Dufresne 2

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