And it was.
I remember stepping onto the sun-bright campus of New Paltz College and thinking, “Welp. This is different.”
I knew I could play baseball, and I knew I could drink a lot of beer, and I wasn’t sure if that was really going to be enough to propel me through the four-year experience of higher education, where Shakespeare and Socrates and Nietzsche and Hegel and Freud and all those dudes chilled. You had to do ALL the reading, apparently, and not just skate by on CliffsNotes and boyish charm like I’d always done before.
Soon, though—after the first-semester haze of getting through class registrations and campus bookstore rip-offs and dining facility “meals”—the preferred method of getting through college was made abundantly clear to me. I was urged, in the most urgent back-alley-at-midnight way—to rush a certain fraternity, if I knew what was good for me. Being from Brooklyn, and having watched the Godfather movies, I instantly got the message.
It’s a world I chose NOT to explore back then (and I still have the scars to remember that decision by, especially the one across my left middle finger since I have to look at that one most frequently.) But I have revisited that sacred ground in my novel, ALMOST HOME: THE NEW PALTZ NOVEL. I have a lot of regrets about opting NOT to get involved with that sketchy fraternity back then, because, well… Let’s just say, I’m pretty confident I could have been a lot more upwardly mobile than I have been to this point in my life if I hadn’t passed on that opportunity. And regrets can have an oddly haunting effect over the years, I’ve found.
Maybe those regrets are why I was so driven to recreate this weird and wild world in fictional form for ALMOST HOME: THE NEW PALTZ NOVEL. Maybe I was just trying to fully explore that world and wring as much drama out of it as I could. Maybe that’s the revisionist act of a coward. Maybe it’s the gauntlet-lifting act of a hero. I don’t know. All I know is that the act of recreating that world in fictional form was an emotional roller-coaster for me, and even I was surprised where the plot-twists took me.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
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