By: Sterling Watson - Akashic Books, $16.95)
Description: In the late 1950s, Gainesville, Florida, seems to be a sleepy university town. Its residents live, by outward appearances, ordinary lives.
And yet the town is far from ordinary.
The most private acts of professors, students, townspeople rich and poor, and politicians are under the close scrutiny of a shadowy group of men — the Committee — who use the powers of government and the police to investigate, threaten, and control this increasingly fearful community.
Verdict: In truth, books like 'The Committee' are my go-to for a Sunday, rain falling afternoon in. At around 350 pages, and with mid-sized print, I sat down to read the book at 1pm this past Sunday and come 6pm had finished it!
The reason is simple: It's just such an engrossing, if not at times dark tale in which at the end of each chapter you simply cannot afford to put it down long enough to let your mind run riot on what you believe to be happening!
Set in 1950s Florida, 'The Committee' pits friends against friends and threatens careers and lives in a struggle for the soul of a town, a university, and an ideal.
Based on actual historical events and set against the backdrop of political, cultural, and class turmoil, this is a story of love — both licit and hidden — war, friendship, betrayal, compromise, and finally the necessity to stand firm against the encroachments upon freedom by men who believe they are doing God’s and the government’s righteous work.
Sure, that sounds heavy, I'll grant you that, but the way Watson writes, composing his sentences and their inclusion within the sanctity of some enthralling paragraphs means the reading is never labored.
Furthermore, 'The Committee' will teach you things along the way, will definitely open your eyes to multilayered "facts" - both old and new - that you may or may not have known, and will always enlighten, enrapture and provoke your little grey cells - to the point, much like me, that you simply cannot put the book down until the full picture has been revealed.
About The Author: Sterling Watson is The Peter Meinke Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Eckerd College. He and Dennis Lehane are Co-directors of the Eckerd College Writers' Conference: Writers in Paradise.
Watson is the author of six novels: Weep No More My Brother, The Calling, Blind Tongues, Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby and Fighting in the Shade.
Watson is the recipient of three Florida Fine Arts Council Awards for fiction writing. His short fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Georgia Review, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southern Review.
His main professional interests are fiction, play and screenwriting, American and British and European short and long fiction, and the theatre. He served for five years as the fiction editor of The Florida Quarterly, and taught secondary English and later fiction writing at Raiford Prison.
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