HH Com 456

Whenever he is not following strangers in the street, or reading to the blind, or courting his daughter's teacher, Oliver Ripple works in the historical archive of Aquinas College, a small and struggling institution in Chicago. Living with his adolescent daughter, Amanda, he leads an obscure existence, snooping through artefacts of the previous century -- a small number of which lead him to the mystery of Francesca Wallace, a woman who vanished from official college history at the time of the Great Fire of 1871. Starting with a single scrap of paper, Oliver moves from clue to clue in the vast jumble of historical records. As his investigation unfolds, Oliver begins to learn the story of a remarkable woman, and the search takes him on a journey through his own past.

"An Empire of Dust" recounts Oliver Ripple's quest. Set largely in Chicago, circa 2000, it flashes back to the trauma that brought Oliver and Amanda to Chicago. Moreover, Oliver's study of the past is on a collision course with his own present. Endowed with a mix of focus and inattention, of courage and timidity, Oliver records and recalls the steps that led to his present predicament -- steps during which he often feels he is walking in the shoes of others.

ok..what's the novel about? research??
We need some conflict spelled out here or I'm calling in Mrs. O'Leary's cow.


Dave said...

I would suggest that the writer go read how these novels were advertised and promoted:

1) The Lost Painting: The Quest for a Caravaggio Masterpiece, Jonathan Harr

2) Out of the Flames - The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World, Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone

Both are excellent books, well written and good reads. They deal with hunting down historical characters and the authors make the search exciting.

Dave said...

A third book using historical searches, Lucifer's Shadow by David Hewson is a modern murder mystery over a 1733 manuscript. It flashes back and forth between modern day and 1733.

xiqay said...

Glad to see Dave suggesting ways to promote your story, because there seems to be a story there that I would like to read.

Banish Mrs. O'Leary's cow to the past (lest she set Miss Snark's hair on fire, too).

I liked the quiet Oliver Ripple. What I really want to know is why the teacher isn't latching on to him with both hands.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

Ooo, I like this!
Then again, my profession is historical research.

Anonymous said...

I agree that this one has promise, and I think Miss S. is letting us down by not asking for pages! C'mon Your Snarkiness! (Hmm... how do we start one of the petition drives...?)

Ski said...

This was really smooth, but I have to agree that I too would have liked a bit more of the story. I still wish you good luck.


Anonymous said...

The first sentence is terrific.

writtenwyrdd said...

I loved the name, Oliver Ripple. Seems just perfect for this guy. What I couldn't discern was whether this story was about Oliver Ripple's obsession with research in contrast with the world around him, if if there was a thriller/mystery revolving around a discovery he makes during his researches.

I rather like the idea of a Death of A Salesman sort of treatment, where you take a quiet man, an Everyman sort of guy, and pick apart his world and lay him bare before the readers.

But I'm not sure if that's what you are hinting at. Probably you should listen to Dave! :)