COMPASS ROSE Launched October 19



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  1. Kevin Hollingshead June 19, 2011 — 6:48 pm


    You may remember me as the Buyer/Manager of Discount Books, Dupont Circle in the late 70’s. Thanks to your father’s insistence, I read and became a fan of An American Romance and held a book signing for you, I believe your first. You would have known me as Kevin Lewis, but I have gone by my name at birth, Kevin Hollingshead, since shortly before my daughter was born.

    I left the book business in the early 80’s and, while learning the new trade of selling computers, read little fiction for a while and thus missed Spartina when new. When I began catching up, I read Spartina and was captivated, as were most who read it. Since then I also loved The Half Life of Happiness, with a special pleasure in the Charlottesville setting, where I was an undergrad from 69-75. I also re-read An American Romance a few years ago and it was very interesting to read it as someone much older than the protagonists. I still liked it very much, but I felt quite differently about the characters. Not a bad sign of a well-made novel it seems to me.

    I just today finished Compass Rose and wanted to tell you how much I admired it. I’m always impressed by writers who deal so beautifully with nature, because I was so bad at it while I was still trying to write. But what moved me the most about Compass Rose was the density. The way you made the web of association over time almost concrete was extremely moving; something many books aspire to, but few achieve so totally.

    Sorry to take so much time, but I thought you would like to know that one of your first fans is still very much a fan. I hope this finds you well and well-satisfied with your life.

    Best regards,
    Kevin Hollingshead

  2. Jeez, Mr. Hollingshead, I hope I did reply. I am a klutz with many aspects of computing. What a thoughtful comment and encouragement. Thank you.
    Another thing I should have acknowledged ON THE WEBSITE under the beautiful picture that became the cover of Compass Rose is that my wonderful graduate-student assistant Memory Peebles was the one who came up with it. What is nice, in addition to the picture itself, is that the reflection of the boat makes it come out upside down–what’s nice about that is that Compass Rose, while standing on its own as a novel, is in a way standing Spartina on its head–giving a voice to all the women for one thing–and, since the hardback cover of Spartina was a fishing boat upside right, it makes sense to have a reversed picture for the cover of the hardback Compass Rose.
    that’s an aside to my note to you, but I didn’t see a place to put that Memory Peebles not anywhere else.
    John Casey

    • Kevin Hollingshead July 3, 2014 — 5:24 pm

      Wow! That was a long time ago, but all the more pleasant for being such a surprise. I like that detail about the cover, especially it being that obscure.

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