Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Gun Church"

Reed Farrel Coleman has been called a hard-boiled poet by NPR’s Maureen Corrigan. He has published fourteen novels. Coleman is the three-time recipient of the Shamus Award for Best Detective Novel of the Year and has been twice nominated for the Edgar Award. He has also won the Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct professor of English at Hofstra University and lives with his family on Long Island.

Coleman applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, Gun Church, and reported the following:
As Gun Church is an exclusive audio book available only at Audible.com beginning November 8, 2011, I used the manuscript for this test. Gun Church is the story of Kip Weiler, an 80s literary wunderkind, who, through his own demons and devices, has fallen to the bottom of the barrel. He’s now nearly 30 years past his prime and exiled to a small, rural mining town where he teaches creative writing at a community college. When he prevents one of his students from taking his class hostage, Kip gets a second fifteen minutes of fame. He also gets something even more important—the inspiration to write again. But what Kip doesn’t know is that his world is about to spin completely out of his control and that his life is about to become a version of Wonder Boys meets Fight Club with guns. Here on page 69, Kip is struggling with an assessment of his old writing and worries about what his new work will be like. Kip often refers to his old self in the third person as the Kipster.
The Kipster was a cynical bastard, full of high sentence, but never obtuse: a poet, a prince looking down upon the great unwashed with only contempt. He was above it all, untouchable and untouched. He was the master of his instrument, so much so that it was all an inside joke to him. I didn’t recognize the writing [Kip’s new work] because it came from a very different place than where the Kipster’s art had come. It all came too easily to the Kipster, which is why I foundered when the words stopped coming. I had nothing to hold onto but the empty shell of the Kipster. His old protagonists were whimsies and strawmen, put up like bowling pins only to be knocked down. They were sacrifices meant as meat for the elitist nobs. His protagonists were soulless, ironice follies to be run up the flagpole like a fat girl’s underthings.
Kip’s new book is based upon a chance meeting in the 90s with a former IRA assassin. But like any artist who has for so long lost his muse, Weiler isn’t quite sure how to go about dealing with the idea he’s had kicking around in his head. The assassin, know only as McGuinn, has haunted Kip.
I wasn’t a biographer, not in temperment or by training, but what McGuinn had given me was basically the details for the biography of a murderer. The killings—their mechanics, the reasons and rationalizations behind them, the stories of the victims—as fascinating as some readers might have found those things, weren’t what interested me. Nor do I think were they what motivated McGuinn. It was his emotional journey and evolution from teenage murderer to soldier to assassin to target that got my attention. Besides, I spent all of two months in Ireland and the North. I didn’t know the place or the people and I certainly had only a superficial understanding of the conflict. I had been a glorified tourist, nothing more. A mostly drunk one at that.
But what Kip doesn’t know is that the book he’s about to write will be a blueprint for his own destruction.
Learn more about the book and author at Reed Farrel Coleman's website.

--Marshal Zeringue