I was running a bit late to work today, and rushed a little more quickly than usual in my short jaunt between Metro Center and the office. In my haste, a lovely plastic shopping bag, dancing merrily on the wind, smacked me in the face as I cruised by the display windows of the local Bums and Valiant Bookstore. I peeled off the Safeway bag (Safeway Shopper #4387656, you should really consider some more fiber in your diet) and a book in the window caught my eye.
Two pudgy but strong Japanese men wrestled on the cover, one draped in red and the other in plain colors. Done up in a painterly style, it it stuck out from the political fair the store usually showcases. Intrigued, I looked at the title: The Bowl Is Already Broken. And from there to the author's name, Mary Kay Zuravleff.
It was exciting for me, finding a new book by her. Not only is Mary Kay local to D.C., she taught a class of mine in grad school. It was good timing on my part. Up to Mary Kay, my professors were all card carrying members of the realist camp and I was feeling pretty antagonized by the whole program. It wasn't a writing class, but kind of a theory class on the structure of novels. But I still found her suprisingly open-minded to different styles and content, and it encouraged me to stick with the program. I haven't run into Mary Kay in probably a year and a half, and the last time I saw her she was still strugggling with the novel (along with working part-time and raising kids).
Her first novel, The Frequency of Souls, mixes unusual characters with a unique balance of realistic and fastastical plot twists. Bowl appears to be more realistic, but I'm sure it will hold substantial wackiness. If I'm reading the summary right, it's set in The National Museum of Asian Art, and I know she spent time as an editor for the Smithsonian. I'm hoping for lots of good behind-the-scenes stuff.
Congrats to Mary Kay. Featured that prominently in a store that rarely showcases fiction at all is a good sign that there's some buzz behind the book. It's on my to-buy list, and I hope a lot of other people pick it up as well.