Before ‘The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.’

(Courtesy of Picador)
(Courtesy of Picador)

Adelle Waldman’s debut novel, “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” was my favorite romantic comedy — or anti-romantic comedy – of 2013. In a series of wittily told scenes, Waldman skewers the self-absorption of a young New York writer named Nate as he irritates one woman after another.

And now, for those of us who couldn’t get enough of obnoxious Nate, he’s back. Today, to celebrate the paperback release of “The Love Affairs,” Waldman is releasing an e-short prequel called “New Year’s” ($2.99).

In another sign of the experimental spirit in publishing, the idea came from Picador’s publisher, Stephen Morrison, who was inspired by the success with an e-prequel to Robin Sloan’s “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.”

Waldman wrote a brief Valentine scene about Nate for The Post last year, but she’d never considered the idea of writing a prequel until her publisher suggested it. “I had mixed feelings, initially,” she says, “because I saw the novel as an aesthetic whole, but it also seemed appealing to me to go back into the world of the novel and to write from the POV of someone other than Nate. I had a lot more material on all the characters than made it into the novel. This is pretty common, I think, for novelists. After all, one spends years thinking about the characters.”

James Meader, executive director of publicity at Picador, says, “The great thing is that it not only serves as a treat for fans of the book, but also an entry point for those who hadn’t yet read it.”

If demand is great enough, Meader says that Picador will also print a limited edition of “New Year’s” for sale at bricks-and-mortar stores.

That sounds fine to Waldman. “I don’t even have an e-reader so I can’t technically even read the story,” she says. “For better or for worse, when I thought of the pros and cons of writing the story, I thought about the content, not about the format. I’m not sure yet how I feel about the platform generally or whether I’d recommend it to other writers.”

Like Nate, she’s reluctant to commit.

 

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.
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