American author Mona Simpson spoke at the Queens College Evening Readings series on April 14 to share her sixth novel, “Casebook,” a suspenseful coming-of-age story.
Sharing only a brief excerpt, Simpson described a bittersweet account of a married couple as they undergo the process of a divorce narrated from the standpoint of their son’s pre-teenage eyes.
The evening reading began with the reading of the book’s “note to reader,” eluding into a personal memoir honoring the narrator’s “fledgling of publishing concern.” It pays homage the seed of inspiration and creativity that was planted into their imagination as a child, which was a comic book series he lamented.
The note to reader of “Casebook” takes the reader away into a comic book store where the narrator first met the creators of the comic book series “Two Spoofs” in its initial years.
According to the narrator, “Two Spoofs” turned out to be the first “breakout seller” of Emerald City Press and has earned its title as a cult classic.
“With an advanced run of three-hundred, the comic book, [Two Spoofs] was re-printed ninety-one times and is still shipping at a rate of one-hundred copies per month,” the narrator said.
The actual storyline of “Casebook” begins under the bed of his parents’ bedroom. The main character, Miles would often sneak into the room when no one was there and hide under the bed until his parents fell asleep. “The first time [Miles snuck under the bed] he was nine years old,” which became his habit and as a result he indirectly experienced his first exposure to sexuality.
Miles’ main goal in sneaking under the bed was to eavesdrop on his mother, but one night he eventually discovered what he at most “didn’t want to know.” For the first time while he was under the bed Miles overhears his parents’ dialogue of separation.
“It’s nice to write from the point of view of somebody that doesn’t really have any sort of sophistication,” Simpson said. “What’s so appealing about a young person’s voice is that they’re [still] encountering things… [As young people,] the big moral concepts just come to us sometimes.”
The evening reading focused on the account of a night when Miles’ mother invited friends over for dinner unannounced. Miles’ father left the room as the friends arrived. When they left, his father returned, and asked, “How was it?”
The evening reading ended when she said, “this is 326th day that we haven’t eaten together and its only June.”
Kupferburg Center for the Arts at Queens College hosts a series of Evening Readings showcasing the literature of a wide range of contemporary authors. More information can be found at www.qcreadings.org. Admission is free with CUNY ID and regular admission is $20.