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Book Talk: Akron novel ‘The Reunion’ is stroll down memory lane

Akron Beacon Journal logo Akron Beacon Journal 6/13/2021 Barbara McIntyre
The Reunion © Gary Wells The Reunion

Fifty years after high school, one forgets small details: dates, names, petty grievances.

For many, it’s a mixed blessing. For Nick Taylor, it’s impossible.

In “The Reunion: Coming of Age in the Age of Aquarius” by Gary Wells, Nick hasn’t forgotten a thing.

Nick has arrived at his 50th class reunion of an unnamed Akron high school intending to have a couple of drinks and keep to himself. An introvert, Nick wants to avoid talking almost as much as he wants to avoid being hugged, but he is afflicted with total recall, the ability to remember every one of his classmates and every conversation they’ve had.

In Nick’s case, it also sparks an association with a song from the 1960s, songs for which he can remember every word, the artist, the year and how well it did on the charts. Nick tries to suppress his stream-of-consciousness internal disc jockey but there is no stopping his internal hit parade.

There also is no stopping the procession of classmates who approach Nick to reminisce. The cruising around, mooning other drivers on the expressway, the awkward dates, the drunken parties. Nick talks to a man who visited Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love and another who served as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam.

Besides the unending soundtrack in his head, Nick’s thoughts are of that certain girl who was more than a crush. Their story unfolds as the evening wears on, and Wells narrates at a commendable pace in this sharply observed novel.

“The Reunion” (227 pages, softcover) is self-published and costs $14.95 on Amazon.com; it will later be available from other online retailers. Gary Wells is, like Nick Taylor, a former journalist and public relations executive.

Award winner

“Roseneath,” a horror novel by Cleveland author Dana McSwain, has won third place in the fiction category in the IndieReader Discovery Awards sponsored by IndieReader, a Silver award in the 2021 Benjamin Franklin Awards from the Independent Book Publishers Association and third place in fiction from the IndieReader Discovery Awards.

Events

Loganberry Books: Jackie Acho, author of “The Currency of Empathy” joins Penny Casselman, author of “How to Get a Free Boob Job,” in a webinar observing National Cancer Survivor Month, 1 p.m. Sunday.  At 7 p.m. Monday, Karamu Theater’s director of community outreach Aseelah Shareef talks to author Caseen Gaines about “Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way.” It's the story of the all-Black creative team behind “Shuffle Along,” the 1921 Broadway musical with an all-Black cast. At 10:30 a.m. Saturday, journalist Margaret Bernstein reads from her storybooks, including “The Fathers Walk.” Register at loganberrybooks.com.

Cuyahoga County Public Library: Signe Pike talks about “The Forgotten Kingdom,” second book in the “The Lost Queen” historical fiction trilogy, in a Zoom event from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday. From 6 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, children’s author Lindsay Bonilla presents “Tails and Tales” interactive animal stories. From 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, co-authors Mary Alice Monroe and Angela May talk about their new middle-grade novel “The Islanders.” From 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, in partnership with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Scottish journalist Cal Flyn discusses “Islands of Abandonment: Nature Rebounding in the Post-Human Landscape.” Register at cuyahogalibrary.org.

Warren-Trumbull County Public Library: Betty Weibel, author of “Ohio’s Literary Trail: A Guide,” talks about the state’s literary heritage in a Zoom event from 2 to 3 p.m. Tuesday. Call the Adult Services Department at 330-399-8807 or see wtcpl.org to register.

Stark County District Library: Greater Canton Writers’ Guild members William Alford, Eleni Byrnes, Benjamin Dine, Edward Klink, Ron Luikart, Mela Saylor, Caroline Totten, and Jean Trent discuss their contributions to “Stark Tales,” a “mosaic novel of fictional stories involving real places in Stark County,” in an online event from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday. Register at stark.libnet.info/events.

Ohio Humanities Council: Otterbein University alumna Mindy McGinnis joins the “Lessons from the Intersections of the Humanities and Medicine” series with “Blood, Brains, and Lobotomies,” the research behind “A Madness So Discreet,” her 2016 Edgar Award-winning Gothic historical thriller for young adults, in an online event from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Music Box Supper Club (1148 Main Ave., Cleveland): The Cleveland Stories Dinner Parties series features James Jessen Badal, author of “In the Wake of the Butcher: Cleveland’s Torso Murders” and “Though Murder Has No Tongue: The Lost Victim of Cleveland’s Mad Butcher,” about the infamous 1930 “Torso Murders,” 7 p.m. Thursday. The $20 dinner is sold out but the lecture is free; go to musicboxcle.com for information.

Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson): Jane Ann Turzillo signs “Ohio Heists: Historic Bank Holdups, Train Robberies, Jewel Stings and More,” 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Visible Voice Books (2258 Professor Ave., Cleveland): Journalist Annie Zaleski signs “Duran Duran’s Rio 33⅓,” an analysis of the band’s 1982 album, including interviews with the musicians, 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Email information about books of local interest, and event notices at least two weeks in advance to BeaconBookTalk@gmail.com.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Book Talk: Akron novel ‘The Reunion’ is stroll down memory lane

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