Why Paterson?: Lost Empress by Sergio de la Pava

10 Oct

Why Paterson? That’s what I asked Sergio de la Pava, author of Lost Empress, after the reading from his new novel he gave at Watchung Bookstore last May. I was thrilled to be able to see one of my literary idols and have him autograph my copy of the book.

He explained (and I am paraphrasing) that he admired Paterson for being a sort of hard luck manufacturing town that fell on hard times, but was gritting it out. He mentioned the long list of famous writers associated with Paterson (Allen Ginsberg, William Carlos Williams, and many others), and of course, he said, the Falls. The Paterson Falls figures prominently in the plot of Lost Empress.

The plot is an over-the-top, laugh out loud hilarious concoction that centers on Nina Gill, the daughter of the Dallas Cowboys owner, who is disinherited from managing the team, and decides to take on the challenge of running an AAA football team, the Patterson Pork. The justice system also figures prominently, with Nuno DeAngeles, a brilliant criminal, stuck for the moment in Rikers.

And de la Pava knows the ins and outs of the criminal justice system. His day job is working as a public defender in the New York City Corrections department.

There is also a heady and wide ranging dose of popular culture involved (Joni Mitchell, emergency medicine, physics, and much much more), and an opening scene set in a bar in our fair city, Hoboken.

For another look at Paterson, you can watch the movie Paterson, starring Adam Driver as a bus driver named Paterson who works in Paterson. Paterson is a poet, and this quiet movie is a remembrance of all that Paterson (the city) is famous for.

You can also checkout Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart, a historical mystery set in Paterson in 1914.  Paterson Great Falls: From Local Landmark to National Historical Park by Marcia Dente looks at the history of town through its famous falls.  You can view historic photographs in Paterson compiled by Philip M. Read.

Paterson Falls

Paterson Falls Photograph by Victoria Turk

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian



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