Several Columbia University School of the Arts Writing Program alumni have recent or forthcoming book releases. Here's a sampling of some of the fiction and nonfiction debuts of 2012.
Two fiction alumni published first novels this spring: Adam Wilson ('09) released Flatscreen from Harper Perennial and Jennifer Miller, a graduate of both the Columbia Journalism School ('08) and the School of the Arts ('11), released The Year of the Gadfly from Houghton Mifflin.
Nonfiction alumna Rachel Carter ('09) will debut the first book in her young adult series, So Close to You (HarperCollins Teen) on July 10. Two other nonfiction alums will release books in August: Josh Garrett-Davis' ('09) memoir, Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains, is due out from Little, Brown and Company on August 21, and the fully illustrated graphic memoir, Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education, by Matthew Parker ('12), will be released from Gotham on August 7th.
How to Get Into the Twin Palms, by fiction alumna Karolina Waclawiak ('10) will be published by Two Dollar Radio, and is set to be released in mid-July.
Read more about the books and authors below.
by Rachel Carter
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
The first in a series, So Close to You is the story of Lydia Bentley, a teenage girl who has heard stories about the Montauk Project all her life: stories about the strange things that took place at the abandoned military base near her home and the people who've disappeared over the years, including her great-grandfather. When Lydia stumbles into a portal that transports her to a dangerous and strange new reality, she discovers that all the stories she's ever heard about the Montauk Project are true, and that she's in the middle of one of the most dangerous experiments in history.
Rachel Carter grew up in the woods of Vermont. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and Columbia University, where she received her MFA in nonfiction writing in 2009. Rachel has been a teacher, a nanny, a caterer and a bellhop. She is currently at work on her next book in Brooklyn, New York.
Ghost Dances: Proving Up on the Great Plains (Little, Brown and Company)
by Josh Garrett-Davis
Publication Date: August 21, 2012
Growing up in South Dakota, Josh Garrett-Davis always knew he would leave. But as a young adult, he kept going back—in dreams and reality and by way of books. With this beautifully written narrative about a seemingly empty but actually rich and complex place, he has reclaimed his childhood, his unusual family—and the Great Plains. Among the subjects and people who bring his Plains to life are the destruction and resurgence of the American bison; his great-great-grandparents’ 20-year sojourn in Nebraska as homesteaders; Native American “Ghost Dancers,” who attempted to ward off destruction by supernatural means before the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee; the political allegory to be found in The Wizard of Oz; and current attempts by ecologists to “rewild” the Plains. Ghost Dances is a fluid combination of memoir and history and reportage that reminds us that our roots matter—and might even be inspiring and fascinating.
Josh Garrett-Davis has an MFA from Columbia University and is currently a PhD student in American history at Princeton. He was raised in South Dakota.
The Year of the Gadfly (Houghton Mifflin)
by Jennifer Miller
Iris Dupont is a teenage reporter who communes with the ghost of Edward R. Murrow, and Jonah Kaplan is a failed microbiologist-turned biology teacher who is haunted by the ghosts of his past. Each embarks on a private investigation to uncover a secret society in their remote New England town. As Iris and Jonah's paths start to intersect, they are drawn into the darker corners of their town, their school and their own minds.
Jennifer Miller is also the author of Inheriting the Holy Land, published by Ballantine in 2005. Her journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Fast Company, Smithsonian.com, Salon.com, Guernica, the Columbia Journalism Review, The Millions and the Daily Beast. In addition to her degree in Journalism, Miller has an MFA in Writing from Columbia University School of the Arts. She is a native of Washington, DC and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.
by Matthew Parker
Publication Date: August 7, 2012
Larceny in My Blood: A Memoir of Heroin, Handcuffs, and Higher Education is a fully illustrated graphic memoir of a child of the '60s who was raised into a life of crime and addiction, but graduated into freedom. Matthew Parker was in his mid-forties when he started college. He’d been sidetracked: eleven years were eaten up by serving time in various county jails, state penitentiaries, and federal prison. He’d been arrested more than thirty times, racking up eight felonies in a crime career that began at age thirteen, when he started dealing pot. When he got out of prison for the last time and kicked his heroin addiction, he was determined to spend the next chapter of his life in the classroom. And he did just that, going on to receive an MFA from Columbia University’s Graduate Writing Program. Through captivating black-and-white illustrations drawn in a distinctively primitive style, Larceny in My Blood flashes back on Parker's childhood, with memories of a loving but lawless mother teaching him that breaking the law was the way to survive. From there it moves to an account of Parker’s lost decades, where he resorted to petty crime to support a heroin habit. After years of fighting the system, Parker sees the light and Larceny in My Blood becomes a poignant portrait of a man trying to find his way in the straight and narrow. A unique memoir, Parker’s images and words form a mesmerizing road to redemption.
Matthew Parker recently earned an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has been drug- and crime-free since 2002. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he now lives in New York City.
by Karolina Waclawiak
Publication Date: July 17, 2012
How To Get Into the Twin Palms is the story of Anya, a young woman living in a Russian neighborhood in Los Angeles, who struggles between retaining her parents' Polish culture and trying to assimilate into her adopted community. She lusts after Lev, a Russian man who frequents the Twin Palms nightclub down the block from Anya's apartment. It is Anya's wish to gain entrance to this seeminly exclusive club. How To Get Into the Twin Palms is a really funny and often moving book that provides a unique twist on the immigrant story, and provides a credible portrait of the city of Los Angeles, literally burning to the ground.
Karolina Waclawiak received her MFA in fiction from Columbia University. She is the Deputy Editor of The Believer and lives and writes in Brooklyn.
by Adam Wilson
Flatscreen tells the story of Eli Schwartz as he endures the loss of his home, the indifference of his parents, the success of his older brother and the cruel and frequent dismissal of the opposite sex. He is a loser par excellence—pasty, soft and high—who struggles to become a new person in a world where nothing is new. Into this scene of apathy rolls Seymour J. Kahn. Former star of the small screen and current paraplegic sex addict, Kahn has purchased Eli’s old family home. The two begin a dangerous friendship, one that distracts from their circumstances but speeds their descent into utter debasement and, inevitably, YouTube stardom. By story’s end, through unlikely acts of courage and kindness, roles will be reversed, reputations resurrected and charges (hopefully) dropped. Adam Wilson writes mischief that moves the heart, and Flatscreen marks the wondrous debut of a truth-telling comic voice.
Adam Wilson is the editor of the Faster Times. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Paris Review, and Bookforum, among other publications. He teaches creative writing at New York University and lives in Brooklyn.