Book Launch at New Dominion in Cville

When I started work on my debut novel The Coal Tower (https://amzn.to/2HcegCg) ten years ago (there were previous novels, of course, piled in that proverbial drawer), one sweet dream that drove me to get up at 5 am, brew some coffee, and sit down in the light of my laptop to write before work was the possibility that someday the book would come out, and when it did, maybe I’d be fortunate enough to launch it at my favorite bookstore, the linchpin of Charlottesville’s literary scene, New Dominion.

Living in Charlottesville, working as an occupational therapist at UVA-Healthsouth, then starting a community reentry program for people with brain injuries connected to Martha Jefferson Hospital, then starting up an early tech company Cerebreon, along with acute care practice at UVA Hospital, while also starting a family with my amazing wife Chris and our two boys (both out of their teens now), the ideas and characters for this novel did what I guess you’d call germinate. An autocratic neurosurgeon at UVA, one of our brain injury clients who tended to drift off to a homeless camp on the edge of the river, teenaged patients emerging slowly from comas caused by car crashes or shootings, and so on, all this swirled around my busy days with no place to land.

Then there was that tragic shooting at the old coal tower downtown, when a young man with mental health problems killed two teenagers. That event struck me as a metaphor somehow for what I felt about Charlottesville, and its disparate communities, but it took me the writing of the novel to place it. I hope that’s what I’ve done.

Anyway, next week that sweet dream comes true. New Dominion is holding a launch party for The Coal Tower. And what’s even sweeter, they’ve scheduled it during Game Week. The novel takes place in one day – the day of UVA’s first football game of the season – and my reading will be held that same week (on Wednesday August 28, from 7-8 pm). Much of the action in the book takes place on the Downtown Mall, just outside the doors of the New Dominion Book Shop. How sweet is that?

So, if you live in the Cville environs, hope you can come and share in my dream come true. It’s been a decade in the works, but now tastes to me as delicious as a scoop of Chap’s coffee ice cream in a waffle cone!

Here’s the New Dominion link for the event: https://ndbookshop.com/events/tony-gentry-the-coal-tower/. Y’all come, now!

Post-Reading Glow

Visiting the Outer Banks this weekend to hang out with son Nick, who’s ocean rescue life-guarding for Nags Head again this summer, and still feeling the glow from last weekend’s reading at Book People in Richmond, VA. David, the owner, played gracious host, friends (counted among them six occupational therapists – hey, birds of a feather!), family, and the occasional casual shopper dropped in. Paul Witcover, my best friend and a constant inspiration (he’s a well-published SF author – here’s his website: https://paulwitcover.com), drove all the way down from New York; one of my pals from high school, Doris McGehee, drove in from Palmyra, and my son Stephen, who designed the covers for both my books, took pictures and made a video of the reading (not yet edited, but soon, he says).

I read a two page section from The Coal Tower drawn almost autobiographically from my childhood, when Grandma Glass, our next door neighbor, would impress her fingers in a “foldover sandwich” made from Nolde’s white bread and her own homemade blackberry jam. Here’s a paragraph from that passage.

Fun to sign books (David had set out copies of The Coal Tower and Last Rites for people to purchase). The whole afternoon just so fun! Thank you to all who came, to all who wanted to come but ran into obstacles along the way, but mostly to David for being the most caring, personable, open-hearted bookseller in Richmond. Go visit his shop, if you don’t know it. It’s at 536 Granite Avenue, in a cottage. He’s got easy chairs to sit in, a Keurig machine at the door, and a nicely curated collection of new and used books, including a shelf of local authors, often discounted. Here’s the store’s website: https://bookpeoplrichmond.com.

My next reading is scheduled for New Dominion Book Store on Charlottesville’s downtown mall on Wednesday August 28 at 7 pm. What’s so cool about this: a lot of the action in The Coal Tower occurs right outside the doors of New Dominion on the mall, and the whole novel takes place on Game Day, Labor Day weekend, the same week when I’ll be giving the reading! In my book the UVA football team plays Penn State that day. This year they’ll be playing Pittsburgh. Close!

Book Signing Event

Book People Book Shop at 536 Granite Avenue in Richmond, VA’s West End is hosting my first ever book signing (and reading) on Saturday June 1, from 1-3 pm. It’s a busy day for readers in town, with Poetry Society awards, James River Writers day in the park and more. Hope folks can come by – David at Book People is one of the nicest book people there is, and if you don’t know his shop, you should. I’ll have copies of my debut novel The Coal Tower and of my story collection Last Rites, both published in the past six months, and ready for your summer reading beach bag.

Introducing my new story collection

Jacket Copy:

Ernest Hemingway wrote, “All stories…end in death.” With ringing lyricism, cinematic detail, and wry humor, in this diverse collection of tales Tony Gentry interrogates that notion.

A father and son share a moment of everyday epiphany on their farm. An elderly widower must choose between a circumscribed life where every breath is an effort and a saving reunion he barely trusts, while another finds solace in the company of an old bear. The ghost of a Confederate general wanders the historic precincts of modern-day Richmond, Virginia. The First Lady deposes the President. A boy finds not love but purpose in a kiss. On a canoe trip, two middle-aged brothers confront mortality and the mystery of what lies beyond. Veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars face their demons, seeking reasons to go on. In the longest tale here, a fall from a wheelchair tests the will of a man haunted by the car crash that severed his spine and killed his young daughter years ago. And cancer tells its own origin story, that of a real estate mogul turned megalomaniac. Keenly observed, inventive, and thought-provoking, these stories test the curtain between everyday reality and the tempting whisperings that lie beyond, in that uncanny place where our hearts and minds collide.

Publication Announcement

Happy to announce that my short story “Measured in Sips” — about an old war veteran’s last days — has found a home in the Spring 2018 edition of Northern Virginia Review.  Last night attended a warm and touching publication party in Annandale, where the novelist Robert Bausch eschewed reading from his own extensive ouevre, using most of his time at the podium as guest speaker reading choice bits from each of the stories and poems in Volume 32 and pausing in between to say a few words of appreciation about each of them.  Such a generous, one might say fatherly, thing to do.  So despite the usual ten-mile backup on 95-S headed home, I drove along in gratitude, feeling enabled and ennobled all at once.