Friday, April 18, 2008

Nick Taylor - "The Disagreement"

On April 17th, debut novelist, Nick Taylor, met up at Kepler's with first-time event host, Craig Beebe, and other historical fiction enthusiasts to discuss his Civil War novel, The Disagreement.

If you haven't heard of the book, here is a summary (ripped from the event page on Kepler's website, which is, by the way, where you should go for a calendar of future Kepler's events!)

"THE DISAGREEMENT begins on April 17, 1861, the day that Virginia secedes from the Union and the day that marks the sixteenth birthday of John Alan Muro. As the Commonwealth erupts in celebration, young Muro sees his dream of attending medical school in Philadelphia shattered by the sudden reality of war.

Muro’s father sends him to Charlottesville instead of Philadelphia, where Jefferson’s forty-year-old University of Virginia has become a haven of rogues and dilettantes. Soon, the war effort requires that medical students like Muro be pressed into service at the Charlottesville General Hospital, where the inexperienced Dr. Muro controversially saves the life of a Northern lieutenant.

Late in the war, now nineteen and married to his first love, Muro is forced to make a choice that will shape the rest of his life. In this story of unimaginable sacrifice, a doctor struggles to balance the passions of youth with the weight of responsibility.

Debut novelist Nick Taylor is an English professor at San Jose State University."

That's a summary of the book, now here's a recap of the evening from Craig. Craig is a new event host, but you probably know him as that friendly tall guy at the register who shouts "Hey! How's it goin?!" to customers entering the store. Take it away, Craig! ~
This was a continually surprising evening for me. First, I was surprised and pleased to discover that not only does the author within walking distance of our store, he is a regular customer and a big fan. Then I was surprised to learn that he is not from Virginia, which I had assumed based on his short bio and the fact that his Civil War novel is very engrossingly told from the perspective of a young Virginian medical student. In fact, the only South that Nick Taylor hails from is that of California! Los Angeles, specifically, although he did live in Virginia for 13 years, received a B.A. and M.F.A. at UVA, and met his wife there. But he tells me he is happy to be in California again, and during his very interesting Q&A session, it emerged that he wasn't all that interested in the Civil War until just before he began working on this novel. That makes his achievement in the book all the more admirable, I think.

The final great surprise of the evening was the size and enthusiasm of our crowd, which defied my expectations and proved Rich to be rather prescient in his insistence on setting up all of our black chairs. To be truthful, many of the adoring fans were really Nick's friends, family, and colleagues, but still: they were, as I said, enthusiastic both in listening and in asking questions during a very interesting Q&A session.

I was also very interested in Nick's comments about writing historical fiction, being a first-time novelist, and discovering your subjects as a writer. His next work will be a telling of the Junipero Serra story, and I will definitely look forward to reading it. ~ Craig


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