Friday, January 06, 2006

Sunstroke: Hot off the Presses

Mark my words--Jesse Kellerman's name will soon be staring up at the world from many a nightstand around the country. Playwright by education, murder mystery novelist by genetic probability, Jesse's first novel--a thriller, in characteristic Kellerman style--was released into the bibliosphere today. The big debut was held at the 22nd St. Barnes & Noble, at the street-corner corner of the store, with an impressive audience turnout for a 27-year-old guy's first novel. The location enabled passersby to cast Jesse in occasionally comical relief as they peered in through the glass, registered him standing at the podium reading excerpts, then gazed further into the room until they reached us, rows upon rows, seemingly gazing right back at them--at which point they invariably shrunk back, embarrassed, onto the sidewalk.

Some people asked questions. Like "was the book based on any real life events?" (it was) or "how do you develop your characters?" (complex organic process) or "do you have any other family members who write?" (he deflected that one with a touch of embarrassment or annoyance, I couldn't tell which).

It was like my college reunion, six months early. Quite a few people I haven't seen or spoken to in years--it's crazy to me that at my age, you lose touch with someone for just a few months--really, that's barely enough time to gather enough fodder for the next catchup conversation!--and then next thing you know, she's round as a berry, due with her first next week! Things can sludge along without change for years, but boy when they do change, hooey!, watch out!

We all got our books signed. And then we trekked out to the West Side in an attempt to find sustenance. It proved harder than one might anticipate, but we finally settled down at a diner (which we quickly overtook) and toasted our man Jesse for the start of his sure-to-be brilliant writing career.

I read near half of the book on the train ride home. So far, it's the kind of brilliantly organized, cleverly written, thoughtful plot moving book that makes readers rejoice, everywhere. Including me. I can't wait to read the rest--though I'm already sad that I'll have to wait a year for the next JK thriller. After I finish (I give myself no more than 48 hours, if that), I might just have to read it again.


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