Monday, October 17, 2011

What is Stephen Wetta reading?

The current featured contributor at Writers Read: Stephen Wetta, author of If Jack’s in Love.

His entry begins:
The Judges of the Secret Court is a novel by David Stackton, first published in 1961 and reissued this year by New York Review Books. It concerns the murder of Abraham Lincoln and the near-assassination of William Seward. Much of it is told from the perspective of John Wilkes Booth, here a weirdly needy misanthrope; yet the point of view shifts rapidly, and we are led through the narrative by an assortment of characters on both sides of the plot: by the conspirator Lewis Payne, by Mrs. Surratt (who owned the boarding house where the conspirators sometimes met), and by Edwin Stanton, the dictatorial Secretary of War who pursues the assassins with the paranoia and blood-thirstiness of a Grand Inquisitor. As a novel it is gripping, although the fluidity of so many points of view sometimes leaves a reader bewildered and out of balance—which may well be an effect Stackton desired. Disequilibrium characterizes this world embittered by war. Booth and Stanton are grandiose political schemers driven mad by loss, one by the loss of his inane sectional fantasies, the other by the loss of his last chance to gain power. Booth suffers the appropriate fate of the stupid, dying in a burning barn, while Stanton is allowed to vent his frustrations through...[read on]
Among the early praise for If Jack’s in Love:
"One way to look at it, is that it took Stephen Wetta fifty-five years to write his promising first novel, If Jack’s in Love, and I only hope Mr. Wetta writes a little faster next time so I’ll be around to say I told you so."
—Pete Dexter, author of Paris Trout and Spooner

"I loved this novel! Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Whistling in the Dark... Twelve year old Jack Witcher will charm you, break your heart...and surprise you on nearly every page."
—Katrina Kittle, author of The Kindness of Strangers and The Blessings of the Animals

"This is a lovely, passionate, and compelling story--a book you won't want to put down."
—Winston Groom, author of Forrest Gump

“Wetta's debut portrays the fictional El Dorado Hills in Virginia during the late 1960s with Southern gothic flair. … At turns unsparing, tender, and disturbing when it comes to rivalry and the nuances of love versus obligation, this is no typical bildungsroman. That Jack emerges from a crucible determined never to look back is unsurprising; it is the path leading him to this conclusion that is intelligently, wonderfully conceived.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[Y]ou should read this wonderfully written marvel of a book: a work both gripping and hilarious, joyous and heartbreakingly bittersweet."
The Wall Street Journal
Learn more about the book and author at Stephen Wetta's journal.

Writers Read: Stephen Wetta.

--Marshal Zeringue