Author Lee Cole is appearing at the Northeast Regional Library Wednesday evening, 7 p.m., to promote “Groundskeeping,” his well-reviewed debut novel. His protagonists are two twenty-something writers who enter into a realistic romance at a Kentucky college—but their mix of sharp observations and ambivalent ambitions is handled so well as to readily open into wider concerns.
Though intimate in scope, this book faces up to confusion and conflict within and across generations and social classes. Views of how to consider family histories and individual directions spill out subtly, but not accidentally — even as it ranges as far as literary in-jokes at one extreme and Colonel-Sanders-as-motif at the other.
The manner of presentation goes purposefully light on dialogue quotes, chapter heads and other standards of novel structure, making the case that they can be obfuscations as much as guideposts (and making for a slightly challenging read).
The keynote is “When I’m home…all I want is to leave. When I’m away, I’m homesick for a place that never was.” Whether it’s the post-ironic Holden Caulfields at the unsteady fringes of academia, or their relatives who are and aren’t sure what it would mean to Make America Great Again, Cole brings these characters together to show how love and circumstance make demands that beggar the apparent rewards of self-determination.
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