(New York: Random House, 2007)
By William Landay ’90
The proliferation of television crime shows suggests a primal need in our culture to have good and evil battle it out, quickly and definitively. Bill Landay ’90 is having none of that easy conclusiveness.
In Mission Flats, his first novel published in 2003, the Newton author refused to allow his characters to be pigeonholed into stock characterizations of good and evil.
His second book, The Strangler, continues to resist the trend.
In The Strangler, the path towards justice is rocky and uncertain. Despite its name, the novel is only tangentially about the Boston Strangler. But the darkness and fear surrounding the Boston strangling cases provide a fitting backdrop to the novel’s primary focus on family, specifically brotherhood.
Three brothers—a police officer, an assistant attorney general, and a burglar— approach the business of crime from every angle. In the aftermath of their father’s
death, they work to shore up their sibling relationships as distracting events play out
on the sidelines. They confront gambling problems, the ire of mobsters, and suspicious
characters circling their mother.
When a family member is gruesomely murdered by the Strangler, the brothers struggle to find answers for the disorder and violence surrounding them.
In doing so, they labor to uncover secrets within their own family home. Their search creates levels of mysteries as it winds through gritty Boston street scenes filled with mob characters, big-time developers, ambitious politicians, good cops, and bad cops.
With varying levels of articulateness and intelligence, the brothers approach the moral question: How does one respond to death, betrayal, and murder? Their attempts to take action and gain moral clarity are offset by the veneer of normalcy imposed on them by the women in their lives. Sunday family dinners at their mother’s Dorchester home are filled with pot roast and tension.
—Marlissa Briggett ’91
WILL THE LAUGHTER STOP? BABYBOOMER CHRONICLES
(Bloomington, Indiana:Author House, 2007)
By James J. Brown ’71
After authoring several legal books, James J. Brown ’71 tries his hand at fiction in his self-published novel, Will the Laughter Stop? Baby Boomer Chronicles. Brown recounts the adventures of teenager Buck Rawlins as he makes his way through Catholic high school in a small middle class town on Long Island in the 1960s.
The book evokes the times, intertwining historical events and the music of the period with the protagonist’s coming of age adventures. Brown writes: “This novel captures the conversations, the cars, the sex, the romance, the football games, the dances, the nude streaking, the car racing, the voyeur peeking, the corporal punishment in school, the skinny-dipping, the drinking, the parties, the pranks, the necking, the sand dunes, the car wrecks, the high school graduation, and the graduation party.”
MY GRANDMA’S BACKYARD
By Miles and William Rabun
What do you do when your children rise to the challenge of writing their own book? After guiding her then-five and seven year old sons, William and Miles, through the process (brainstorming, writing, editing), Yolanda Rabun ’94 decided to publish their story. The result is the charming My Grandma’s Backyard.
Recounting their backyard pleasures in rhyme, the boys encourage readers to enjoy the plants, animals, and other objects in their surroundings. My Grandma’s Backyard, vibrantly illustrated by Tony Moore, is also part workbook, offering lessons in the back on vocabulary and rhyming.
In her fourteen years as counsel at IBM, Rabun has become accustomed to tweaking documents. She initially found herself approaching her sons’ story in the same way. But the boys would not accept her changes. The result is a story that is all theirs. “That’s the integrity of the book,” Rabun says.
—Marlissa Briggett ’91