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Book Choice for May

From: Julia W
Sent on: Sunday, March 15, 2009 8:23 PM
Everyone:

I had an author send a message to me about a book that he has written that will be going to print in April. He asked whether we would want to read the book in our group. I have attached the details of the e-mail that he sent me. Please just send me a message back if you are interested in this for our discussion for the month of May. Thanks!

What Matt K wrote:
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Hello Julia,

Would you be interested in the chance to read a new work of
literary fiction and get the unusual opportunity to have the
author (who lives in the near west suburbs) sit down with your
group at the end of your discussion? I have just completed my
2nd novel, Monhegan Windows, which will be published in a
limited author's edition within the next 2-6 weeks. (The 1st
novel remains unpublished at this point.)

Monhegan Windows is an interwoven pair of stories with related
narratives set on a very real island off the coast of Maine.
First you meet Tyler Smith, a man who is fleeing his life in
Chicago. At loose ends and unable to make a decision about
anything after the death of his young son, for which he feels
responsible, he abandons his family on a quixotic roadtrip.
Half by accident he ends up a thousand miles from home, on a
small ferry going from the Maine coast to Monhegan Island, a
small artists' and nature lovers' enclave 10 miles out in the
Atlantic. And as a result of his clumsiness and inattention he
finds himself stuck on the island, penniless.

Next, the second story begins with the revelation that someone
on Monhegan Island is anonymously writing this story of Tyler,
publicly posting the novel chapter by chapter every few days
for islanders and visitors to read. The people on the island
don't know who the author is, but the reader soon learns it is
Jonah Landry, a man like his protagonist, only his tragedy is
deeper and his depression all-encompassing; about 8 months
earlier he lost his entire family. Only when he encounters a
woman in a meeting he is unsure at first is real does his
smothering paralysis have a chance to ease.

The two threads wind their way through the summer months on the
island, as both Jonah and Tyler in their respective stories
become involved with women artists and with the island's summer
life as they seek to emerge from their crises. The styles of
the two stories contrast as they both address themes of loss &
recovery and art & creativity. Tyler's story is told first-
person, present tense in a conversational tone; Jonah's is
third-person, past tense, lyrical and meditative. Plus, there
are complications, both in what happens and in how the stories
interweave and how the novel itself is structured.

Moreover, Monhegan Windows blends in photography and art as
well. Tyler's story is accompanied by two dozen photographs
taken on Monhegan, all with a window theme; and each of the 24
chapters of Jonah's story is headed with a painting by a
Monhegan artist. The book is about 360 pages long, though 24
full pages and 24 half pages are filled by these visuals.

I will not try to steamroll you as to the quality of the book,
though I will note that I have been a professional writer for
nearly 30 years. You may judge for yourself by checking my
website, ridgewoodpublications.com. In the Books section of the
site is a link to a PDF presenting the first 40 pages of the
novel. (The rest of the website will show you my "day" work as
a writer, publisher and photographer.)

Finally, here is the high concept of the novel, how I first got
started on it: Way back in 1997, I read The Bridges of Madison
County. I liked Waller's concept of pairing a character novel
with photos (albeit far too small), all placed in a very
specific geography. But I was disappointed by his poor writing.
I had just visited Monhegan for the second time and thought it
would be a wonderful place to set a novel, especially one with
more substance and literary merit.

Thank you for reading this e-mail. I do hope you are intrigued.
If you are but need more, I can forward you a PDF of the entire
novel, or I could even get you a prepublication copy of book (a
printed and bound mass paperback).

-- Matthew Kiell

p.s.: I am the Organizer of the Oak Park Writers, Artists &
Musicians Group
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* If you'd like to see the Meetup profile for Matt K, visit:
http://www.meetup.com/members/?memberId=5037547

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