Dangerous Neighbors (paperback) and Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent: two upcoming releases

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

In just a few days, Dangerous Neighbors, my Centennial Philadelphia novel, will be released by Egmont USA as a paperback, with a bound-in teacher's guide.  A few weeks after that, in mid-February, Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent, an 1871 Philadelphia novel that features Dangerous Neighbors' own best-loved boy, William, will be released by New City Community Press/Temple University Press.

Dr. Radway's introduces, among many other Philadelphia places, Eastern State Penitentiary.  In this scene (below) William and his best friend, Career, are making their way toward the old prison, which was known back then as Cherry Hill.  They're going to keep William's father company, in the only way they know how.

The image above was taken two years ago, when I was in the midst of my research for this book.

Career pulls a stone out of his trouser pocket, drops it to the street, and kicks it ahead to William, who smacks it crosswise and up, stepping back to let two twin girls in dresses like pink parasols pass, their mother stern in blue.  Career lopes and knocks the stone to where William would be if he wasn’t still staring at the girls, both of them with the identical ginger hair and jewel eyes, neither somehow like the other.  Neither, mostly, like the mother, who casts her opinion on William and hurries her exotic procession along.  
William feels the heat in his face and runs for the stone.  He smacks it hard Career’s way.  The game stays good between them now—past Spring Garden and Brandywine, Green, Mt. Vernon, Wallace, all the way to Cherry Hill, where finally they stop and stand in the long skirt of the prison’s shadows, its massive gothic gloom.  Cherry Hill runs the full block and back, two-hundred feet in the east-west direction, four crenellated towers on its front face and a watchman high, looking for trouble. Career works another match into the shallow bowl of his pipe, and it takes.  The tobacco flares sweet. 
“You going to call to him, then?” Career asks, after a while.
“Walls too thick.”
“You going to try it anyway?”
            “Your whistling,” William says, “goes a longer way.”
Career blows the smoke of his pipe through the spaces between his teeth.  He clears his throat and finds his song, and it carries.  William closes his eyes and imagines his Pa inside—past the vaulted doors and the iron gates, beneath the eye of the warden, and of God.  People are puny at Cherry Hill.  People are locked away to consider what they’ve done.
“You think he can hear that?” Career asks now, stopping his song.
“Keep on.”
Career picks the song back up, and William stands there in the shadows, at his best friend’s side, trying to see Pa in his mind’s eye.   “Don’t do it, Pa,” Francis had warned him, Ma, mostly.  Don’t, don’t, don’t. 
Career whistles a professional melody.  William hears what he thinks is the wind, but it’s that bird winging in close, that dove tucking its wings then letting them go, its rise and its angling in effortless.  Career stops his song and looks up.  The bird goes on, north and west—a free line across the prison wall and out, toward the river.
Cherry Hill still locked up tight as a vault. 


Elizabeth Mosier said...

Oh, do I love your writing. And I can't wait for this one!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, how exciting!

Melissa Sarno said...

Oh! Are those twins, *those* twins? Looking forward to this book : )

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