People and Places

James Gallant’s New Novel

Whatever Happened To Ohio. Artwork courtesy of Vagabondage Press and James Gallant
Whatever Happened To Ohio by James Gallant, published by Vagabondage Press

By Joseph Mendelson, Herpetologist and Conservation Biologist, Zoo Atlanta

 

Book promotion’s a bit out of my line of work, but I’m happy to recommend my Grant Park neighbor James Gallant’s new novel Whatever Happened to Ohio?, just published as an e-book in Vagabondage Press’s “Battered Suitcase” series.

Jim’s earlier book, set in Grant Park, The Big Bust at Tyrone’s Rooming House: A Novel of Atlanta, has a lot of fans around the intown ‘hoods. He wrote that book out of his experience as a home-renovating newcomer to Grant Park during the crack-cocaine epidemic of the ‘80s and ‘90s.

His new work reflects his Midwestern small town origins. The initial inspiration for the book was the case of the nervous bride-to-be here in Atlanta some years ago who on the eve of her wedding hopped on a Greyhound and took off into the West. (Jim ups the ante by having the bride and the groom both vamoose in different directions just before the nuptials.)

Social observances abound: a wedding, parades, a family reunion, and an old-time baseball game – some associated with the 2003 Ohio Bicentennial celebration. However, these hang rather loosely about Gallant’s distraught, divisive, sexually ambiguous, sometimes mystified characters.

The novel displays Jim’s interest in things occult: UFOs, materializations, synchronicity, and such. The book comes with the endorsement of Jeffrey J. Kripal of Rice University (author of Authors of the Impossible: Paranormal and the Sacred), who remarks that Gallant’s novel “displays in graphic and entertaining form … that invasions of occult influences become especially likely in disorderly societies like our own – in the gaps, in the interstices of what we think of as the real but which is in fact a social construction, and a wobbly one at that.”

Jim’s essays and short stories appear in his column “Verisimilitudes: essays and approximations,” published online by Fortnightly Review (UK) (http://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/category/verisimilitudes/). His website is www.jamesgallantwriter.com.