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Chase Novak Books In Order

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Chase Novak is the writer’s pseudonym of accomplished author Scott Spencer. The two names can be used interchangeably. Scott has written 11 novels including: A Ship Made of Paper, Waking the Dead, Last Night at The Brain-Thieves Ball, Men in Black, Preservation Hall, Secret Anniversaries, Rich Man’s Table, Man in The Woods, Willing, Breed and Brood, and due in 2017, The River Under The Road. Spencer has had two movies adapted from his novels – Waking the Dead and Endless Love.

Chase Novak was born in 1945 in Washington, District of Columbia, USA. His family soon moved to Chicago at the age of 2 and that’s where he was raised, on the south side of Chicago. His father worked in a Republic Steel Mill located nearby in Gary, Indiana. Chase remained in Chicago throughout school and high school before leaving for the University of Illinois in Champagne-Urbana. However, he left the university to be with his girlfriend who lived back in Chicago. After which he did a year at Roosevelt University in Chicago in 1964.

Scott’s work may best be summed up by a quote from the Wall-Street Journal “There are few novelists that use the English Language like Scott Spencer does… every failed effort at restraint, every ache of feeling, every attempt at self-deception is captured in precise and beautifully cadenced prose.” High praise from the Wall Street Journal. Many of his novels tend to feature a turning point of some kind, wherein a terrible accident or event is committed by one of the main characters which alters everything in their lives.

He now resides in a little town in upstate New York where undoubtedly he continues to write and create new works of literary art. With his next book due in 2017, The River Under The Road, there is little sign of Chase Novak slowing down.

Last Night At The Brain-Thieves Ball>

The debut novel written by this fantastic author was first released in 1975, has been re-published as recently as 2010. The book features the main character of Paul Galambos, who is a seemingly ordinary professor at a university, teaching psychology and struggling to find success or satisfaction from his family and career.

As with many of Chase Novak’s books, the turning point comes one day when Paul Galambos is recruited by a top-secret organization and given full authority to experiment and study however he chooses to do so. Paul is no longer restricted to experimenting on lab rats. This is what Paul has been hoping for, waiting for, his entire life. The opportunity to gain accolades, money and respect – seems easy enough, so long as he can ignore the nagging voice of his conscience.

In the true nature of Dark Comedy, the book is written to highlight the oftentimes darker aspects of humanity. Issues such as the perils of ambition in scientific endeavours. The idea that the pursuit of progress and knowledge should or should not always come first for fears of ethical exploitation and for reasons of morality.

The second nature of humanity revealed by this dark comedy is the narcissistic tendencies we all seem to have ingrained in us naturally. The New York Times mentioned it was “A mad-scientists dream hovering tantalizingly close to possibility.” How accurate that is. A wonderful first publication for, at the time, a new author.

Preservation Hall

The second novel from the newly published author, Scott Spencer, released in 1976 which is only a year after the previous. Preservation hall follows the story of Virgil Morgan and his rocky relationship with his father, Earl Morgan. His father has cut him off from the world for most of his life, leaving Virgil isolated, alone and unaware of the outside world. By happenstance, Virgil meets Tracy and they quickly fall into an intense love. It is this love which grounds in a way he has not experienced before.

And true to form, the turning point soon arrives when his father gains a new stepson. This recent addition to the family brings back the old insecurities Virgil has held all his life and serves to create tension between himself and the new stepson. The tension rises until a stay at a secluded country house the young couple, Virgin and Tracy purchased in Maine, leads to what may be the inevitable conclusion of this confrontation. A blizzard appears which traps the group in the isolated house and forces Virgil to confront the ghosts of his past.

True to form, Spencer writes a tale of a successful and happy man, newly married in a beautiful and isolated cottage in Maine, but there is a deeper meaning. Virgil has essentially used his success to create a fortress of money and career success around himself. The book uses the turning point event to consider the redemptive power of unconditional love.

Film Adaptations

Chase Novak’s first novel to be adapted into a film was Endless Love in 1981 by Franco Zeffirelli. The movie/novel also received a second adaptation in 2014.

The 2014 adaptation was written and directed by Shana Feste and stars Gabriella Wilde, Alex Pettyfer, Bruce Greenwood and others. A story of a rich girl from a high-class family and a charismatic boy. The desire between them creates an instant love affair which the parents try their hardest to break up. This only serves to intensify their attraction to each other.

The other novel adapted for film was Waking the Dead, released in 2000. Directed by Keith Gordon, and written by Scott Spencer and Robert Dillion. The film stars Billy Crudup, Bill Haughland and Nelson Landrieu. It is a story of a man running from congress who seems to have it all, when suddenly the love of his life from long ago appears. The twist is that he had presumed she was dead. This leads to the main character questioning his sanity.

Awards & Acclamations

Chase is a critically acclaimed author who has had two novels nominated for the National Book Award, Endless Love as well as A Ship Made of Paper. Scott Spencer has sold millions of copies of his books which is an accomplishment owing to his prodigious and expert writing. In 2004, Scott Spencer was awarded the Guggenheim Award in the field of Fiction for the US & Canada.

Novak is also a regular contributor at some of the most accomplished publications and magazines, such as The New Yorker, The New York Times, Harpers Magazine and GQ.


Scott Spencer now resides in upstate Rhinebeck, New York and teaches writing at Columbia University, the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Williams College and for the Bard Prison Initiative. While still writing his own novels, his latest, The River Under The Road, is due to be released in 2017 under Ecco Publishing.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Chase Novak

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