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The Solace of Leaving Early


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About the Author

haven kimmel is the author of the memoir A Girl Named Zippy. She studied English and creative writing at Ball State University and North Carolina State University. She also attended seminary at the Earlham School of Religion.


A romance evolves in the wake of a domestic shooting in Kimmel's intelligent and compassionate debut novel, which brings two friends of one of the victims together in a small Indiana town. Amos Townsend is the male protagonist, a 40-ish preacher who counseled the late Alice Baker-Maloney as her frayed marriage degenerated into a fatal confrontation with her controlling husband, Jack. Amos remains tormented by his attraction to Alice and his inability to have prevented the tragedy. Meanwhile, bookish Langston Braverman has returned home after dropping out of her Ph.D. program following an affair with an academic colleague and subsequent nervous breakdown. The two clash after Langston's mother, AnnaLee, orders her to abandon her literary projects to care for Alice's two orphaned daughters; Amos accuses Langston of being unfit for the job when both girls continue to exhibit a bizarre variety of compulsive, religiously oriented behaviors. The girls' crisis continues to escalate, leading to a series of melodramatic scenes in which Amos and Langston are forced to confront their own demons. There are some winning moments as the protagonists move toward a romance, although things are hindered somewhat by the sluggish pace in the early going, as Kimmel (A Girl Named Zippy) meanders through scenes detailing smalltown Midwestern life and as she delves into the pasts of the two leads. Still, she proves a wise, compassionate and often very witty storyteller whose affection for her characters is contagious. Agent, Stella Connell. Author tour. (June 18) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

'Kimmel's wonderful debut novel is vivid and hopeful, packed with astute allusions to philosophy, theology, sacred art and literature. She uses her sharply drawn observations to add a generous amount of humour to the novel, and does a terrific job of dancing back and forth across the line between tragedy and comedy. Fragile, funny Langston Braverman is a stand-in for all those girls who run headlong away from their roots, only to find that they've left something important behind.' San Francisco Chronicle 'To be read for its characters, its surprising phrasing and the way it deals with all sorts of ideas, including the possibility of improbable love.' USA Today Reviews for A Girl Named Zippy 'Parenting experts would gag, but Zippy's parents must have done something right to produce a girl who could write such a simple, lovely book.' USA Today 'It's a cliche to say that a good memoir reads like a well-crafted work of fiction, but Kimmel's smooth, impeccably humorous prose evokes her childhood as vividly as any novel.' Publishers Weekly

After being dumped by her professor/ boyfriend and walking out on her Ph.D. oral exams, Langston Braverman returns to her seemingly simple Midwest hometown, where she learns that a childhood friend has died. The Kierkegaard-reading Langston is so afflicted with existential malaise that she ignores her own family and cannot bring herself to inquire into the cause of Alice's death. Langston is finally brought out of her isolating stupor when she begins to care for Alice's two disturbed daughters with the unwanted help of the town preacher. Kimmel, also author of the celebrated memoir A Girl Named Zippy, draws remarkable characters out of ordinary, small-town America. The dialog is clever and sleek without degenerating into the facile pacing of a television script. Through masterly interior and exterior dialog, Kimmel devises a heartwarming story about troubled individuals who struggle with their problems while finding solace and a degree of peace in one another. Highly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 2/15/02.] Colleen Lougen, Mt. St. Mary Coll., NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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