Thursday, July 12, 2012
Not long ago I sat in a local coffee shop with a young woman who dazzled. Yes, that's the word. She'd found her way to the very beating heart of the publishing world as a young Vanderbilt graduate, moved from the Big Apple to the south to work as the BookPage fiction editor, and today works as a content manager for a suburban Philadelphia brand consulting firm, writing features and reviews for BookPage on the side. Beyond us, the little town of Wayne was having an outdoor festival. Between us, the talk was books and work. I adored her within seconds. She asked smart questions. She listened.
Abby Plesser (for that is this wunderkind's name) had been asked to interview me for a BookPage feature. I could not have been a luckier soul. The conversation alone would have been enough. The consequent story is more capacious, more generous than anything I could ever deserve. The piece ends with these words, below. The whole can found here.
Abby and BookPage, thank you. Jessica Shoffel, thank you (for everything).
No matter the audience, there is
one thing Kephart hopes readers
take away from her novel: not to
judge others. Of her protagonist, she
says, “Kenzie is very loving, intelligent,
moral. She is in a situation. I
think no less of her and I don’t want
my readers to think any less of her.”
Kephart speaks with such compassion
for her characters and such
passion for her work that it’s hard
not to be inspired by such an unassuming,
accomplished woman. Of
her career, she reflects, “I never want
to look back and say, ‘Well, my best
book was my first one or my fifth or
my seventh,’ so I’m highly motivated
to not just slide. I try to break form
or go to a new place in the world
or tell a story that hasn’t been told
before. I’m invested in challenging
myself and going to the verge or taking
Small Damages is a book well
worth the risk. Kephart has created a
lyrical, beautiful story about a young
woman at a turning point, struggling
to reconcile her choices, find
her place in the world and discover
the true meaning of family.