Monday, October 22, 2007
Dan Pope @ WestConn
Reading Oct. 24, 7:30 pm, Reimold Theatre
Western Connecticut State University
Dan Pope is the author of In the Cherry Tree (Picador, October 2003).His stories have appeared recently in McSweeney's (No. 4), Gettysburg Review, Night Train, Witness, Crazyhorse, Iowa Review, and other magazines. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writer's Workshop, where he attended on a Truman Capote Fellowship. He is a winner of the Glenn Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters and a grant in fiction from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.
Dan Pope's brilliant novel chronicles a childhood summer lived beneath the rumblings of an unhappy marriage. An ethnography of American suburban boyhood circa 1974, In the Cherry Tree takes you back to when you could name every actor on "The Big Valley," wield dialogue from The Poseidon Adventure as a secret code to baffle the uninitiated, sing "The Night Chicago Died" from start to finish verbatim, and pronounce with absolute confidence that Elton John ruled and John Denver sucked. In lucid, deceptively simple prose, Pope explores childhood's ardent faith in things worth knowing, just because. And in the necessity of judgments, the endless listing and rating of athletes, pop stars and movies - creating systems of order and value by which to live, while the Mom and the Dad, as Pope's narrator calls them, battle it out in the next room.
Tender yet unsentimental, raucously funny, In the Cherry Tree evokes not only a time and place, but a kind of imagination that adulthood almost inevitably extinguishes in us all. You may not realize how much you've forgotten about being twelve years old until this novel reminds you. Anyone who was young in the suburbs a quarter century ago will be transported instantly back - for better and for worse - to familiar ground. Thought you'd left 1974 behind forever? Ready or not, here you go.
"In the manner of Alice McDermott's That Night, or Evan Connell's Mrs. Bridge, Dan Pope's small, deft novel turns suburban malaise into both comedy and elegy. It's a gem."
-- Rand Cooper, author of The Last to Go
"Dan Pope's novel doesn't capture the world of twelve-year-old boys in the 1970s so much as it liberates it. Filled with music, cars, obtuse older siblings, parents who are struggling with their own demons, and (increasingly, tentatively) girls, In the Cherry Tree gets every nuance right--the alliances and rivalries, the exuberance and sorrow, but above all the brilliant mix of intelligence and unintelligence that characterizes preteen life."
-- Ben Greenman, author of Superbad