Grisham drops the reader right into the action as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original manuscripts are stolen from Princeton University’s underground vault. This story follows Mercer Mann, a novelist with money troubles and writer’s block who was recently laid off from her university teaching position. Mercer is hired by a mysterious company with an offer too good to pass up—move into her family’s beach cottage on Camino Island in Florida with the goal of becoming friends with Bruce Cable, a local bookseller and rare books dealer whom Mercer’s new employer suspects has a connection to the Fitzgerald manuscripts. Camino Island is a page-turner with interesting insight in the worlds of writing, publishing, and dealing in rare books.
- Marilu Morgan
Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
I’d never heard of John McPhee, but after reading Draft No. 4, I wish I could take his Princeton course in “Creative Nonfiction.” McPhee’s work has appeared in Time, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. His skill lies in turning subjects like towboats and oranges into page-turning nonfiction. There’s advice on how to mix facts into compelling prose (structure is key), interview preparation (he does just enough not to seem rude), and how he got Jackie Gleason to open up for a profile. His conversation with General Eisenhower about painting is one of the best endings to a book I’ve ever read.
- Bruce Collier
Rambulations of Andreas the Bum
Andy Alytes (Andreas) is a Greek- American military brat rambling around the Greek Islands and Turkey trying to make a (mostly) honest living, enjoy life and stay out of trouble—a losing battle. Think of a modern day Huckleberry Finn in Greece, his travels similar to those of the Greek hero Odysseus, who took 20 years journeying from the Trojan War back home to Ithaca.
Andy is trying to get to his boyhood home in Izmir, Turkey, but encounters numerous detours along the way including a coffin-wood table gone wrong, burning his landlord’s house down, coping with a Greek girlfriend whose uncle is a vampire, dealing with a friend’s “bone fetish,” piloting Russian smugglers in a stolen yacht for a little misdemeanor grave robbing (which doesn’t go at all well), plus other adventures.
Parks, an occasional Beachcomber contributor living in Santa Rosa Beach, is a geologist who has traveled and lived in Greece. His book is available locally from Sundog Books in Seaside, and the Hidden Lantern Bookstore in Rosemary Beach. You can also get a copy from the author at email@example.com.
- Ronald Larsen