As a newcomer to fiction writing, Michael Kardos ’92 realized he had a long apprenticeship ahead when an instructor in his MFA program casually told him that “the first million words are all practice.” More than decade later, Kardos has published his first novel, The Three-Day Affair, and based on the reviews, the practice has paid off.
The story follows a group of Princeton friends who reunite for a golf weekend and are quickly thrown into an untenable position when one robs a convenience store and drags a cashier into the car. The driver, Will, immediately bolts toward the nearest hospital, believing the young woman is injured. After realizing that all three men are now guilty of robbery and kidnapping, the group tries to undo the mess caused by one friend’s unexplained criminal impulse.
The New York Times, in a round-up of new crime novels, called The Three-Day Affair “a carefully calibrated study of how even the most highly evolved members of our species can become feral under pressure.” A Publishers Weekly review said that Kardos “makes the most of his intriguing setup” and finishes with a “vicious closing sting.”
While the story and its publisher (Mysterious Press) place Kardos’ novel in the crime genre, much of the book explores the relationships between characters, forged in vivid scenes at Princeton that range from discussing the shared anxieties of freshman year to sliding down the peaks of Reunions tents just before graduation. (There’s even a passing mention of a certain alumni magazine.) “I didn’t write it to be any particular kind of novel,” Kardos said. “I just wrote the kind of novel I would want to read.”
At Princeton, Kardos majored in music and never took a creative writing course. He spent the first eight years after graduation performing as a professional drummer for several groups. “When I found myself playing in a Springsteen tribute band, it occurred to me that it was time to make a change,” he joked.
Kardos went back to school, earning an MFA from Ohio State and a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri before joining the English faculty at Mississippi State. He has published several short stories and a story collection, One Last Good Time (2011).
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