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Friday, September 21, 2007

A heartening story

One of my previous roommates, Stephanie, is a diligent writer. She comes home from work every night, exercises (already my hero), and writes for at least an hour. She writes short stories, screenplays, chapters...whatever. The important thing is that she writes for a whole hour, the duration of which is marked by an egg timer. I bow in awe, cringing, before her willpower while I update my blog for the first time in about three years.

Anyway, before I moved in she had finished a novel and was trying to get it published. As far as I can tell, this seems to be the holding pattern for most writers and most novels don't see paper. One fine day, however, Steph's lovely manuscript found the eye of a good agent, got the attention it deserved and was picked up by Harper Collins.

I'm sure she could have told that tale better than I just did. Regardless, My Summer of Southern Discomfort is finally out. When Steph gave me the manuscript to read one evening last year it was about 6pm; I didn't put it down until 4am the next morning.

The book is set in Macon, GA and is told from the point of view of Natalie Goldberg, an attourney who is prosecuting a death penalty case. However, not only is Natalie a New York Jew who recently moved to Georgia to escape an ill-conceived love affair, she is morally opposed the death penalty. The book does a great job of exploring the complexity of decisions, expectations, professionalism and morals, but it's real strength is as a character study. Natalie is interesting. Her Good Ol' Boy co-cousel is interesting. Her neighbors are interesting. The policemen and witnesses are interesting. And yet, nobody is a caricature or gets off easy.

Definitely a fun read and more complex than the cover art suggests. I know she's working on her next one, but I haven't managed to get my hands on a copy yet. Probably for the best since I need any sleep I can get these days.

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