Dr. Radway and Dangerous Neighbors: a side-by-side review

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Readers of this blog know that Dr. Radway's Sarsaparilla Resolvent is a story featuring a boy named William—a child of Bush Hill and Baldwin Locomotive Works, the brother to a young man murdered by a cop. William has lived in my imagination for many years. He was a primary character (but not the primary character) in my Centennial Philadelphia novel, Dangerous Neighbors. He rescues lost animals for a living. He matters to me.

Earlier today, I discovered that my friend Ed Goldberg, a librarian in the New York system, put Dr. Radway and Dangerous Neighbors side by side in a review. I love that he did this. I learned from his study. I'm deeply appreciative.

Ed's entire report can be found here, on his lovely blog, 2HeadsTogether. He ends his musings like this:
What both books do so well is describe one city, Philadelphia of the 1870s, although two different worlds. Both books delve into their main characters, William and Katherine, making them come alive. And both books use language as only Beth Kephart uses language.

It was a luxury reading the books one after the other, because it highlights the contrasts that otherwise would have been hidden. So, Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent and then Dangerous Neighbors. The one-two punch in books.
Thank you, Mr. Ed. And thank you, Elizabeth Mosier, for the extraordinary note you wrote to me after you read the book through. No one can ever know just how much words like these matter to an author—especially in the case of this particular book.

I'll be talking about the research that fueled both books tomorrow, during the Week of Writing at Drexel University. If you're in the city I hope you'll join us, especially so that you can meet my most esteemed co-panelists, Rita Williams-Garcia and Eliot Schrefer.


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