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Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

If the truth comes out, he will lose everything - Student Body by Rafeeq O. McGiveron

Description:

Student Body is an allusive, finely grained genre-straddler that incorporates elements of romance, memoir, mystery, even something I might term “fiction of academia,” with mood ranging from mischievous to exulting to elegiac.

Charming young professor-to-be Rick O’Donnell seems to have it all, but he also hides a desperate secret: his brief, passionate affair with a beautiful girl who had been his own student just the semester before, and who now is a fellow teaching assistant with an office right down the hall from his. If the truth comes out, he will lose everything—his once-promising career, his marriage, perhaps even his life.

Sensual, poignant, and lyrical, Student Body is a frank and intimate tale of a harrowing week and a half which will decide a deeply conflicted man’s entire future…and the lives of the women who love him.

GUEST POST

Whenever people ask me about my novel, I’m excited to talk about it—and I’ve done so in print, on the web, and on the radio—but at the same time, really, Student Body actually isn’t easy to categorize. When I wrote it, I knew I was crossing the boundaries of several literary genres, but I didn’t care.

The book is deeply romantic, for example, but it definitely is not a romance novel per se. It has some elements of a murder mystery or thriller, but it definitely is not quite one of these. For setting and even certain characters and scenes, I was able to draw from some my own experiences, but the book definitely is not a memoir. I simply had a fictional story to tell, and I told it—movingly, artistically, and evocatively, I hope.

As the novel opens, glib, cocky doctoral student Rick O’Donnell seems to have it all: a loving wife and three young children, a coterie of wisecracking friends, the respect of his professors, and a bright future ahead of him.

The charming young professor-to-be, however, also hides a desperate secret: his brief, passionate affair with a beautiful girl who had been his own student just the semester before, and who now is a fellow teaching assistant with an office right down the hall from his. If the truth comes out, he stands to lose everything—his once-promising career, his marriage, perhaps even his life.

Student Body is not about car chases or assassination plots or explosions, therefore, but about the secret needs we all have, the vulnerabilities and the confused motivations, the soul-searching and the angst. The protagonist may be flawed, but he is aware of his shortcomings and the wrongs he has committed, and is struggling now to do right. And yet as Rick is confronted with the one thing he cannot have revealed, he is forced in the desperate silence of his guilt to work through all the gnawing uncertainties and the memories he had thought were buried in the past.

Student Body has been hailed as “vivid” and “emotional,” “smoothly presented” and “carefully crafted,” with an “unexpected conclusion…both believable and satisfying” (here). The novel is poignant and introspective, the frank and intimate tale of a harrowing week and a half which will decide a deeply conflicted man’s entire future…and the lives of the women who love him. If you enjoy reading it even half as much as I enjoyed writing it, then I’ll be happy.

EXCERPT



Chapter 24, pp. 282-84

What in the hell was love, exactly? wondered Rick with something of a mental headshake. Many times during his relationship with Lauren, the confused, smitten boy had mused—completely apropos of nothing, of course—on the topic of love. He had remembered, now and then, very wistful and rather surprised somehow, the good times with Anna, but too often during that semester, instead how distant it all appeared, like some scratched and foggy Daguerreotype found in a box on the back shelf of a cluttered antique shop. Bitterness, loneliness, neglect—at home, these instead had been foremost in Rick’s brooding mind. And yet at work… Why, how different everything was, how fresh and exciting and new!

Greeting his secret sweetheart every day with such casual chumminess in Rosenblatt’s class, but melting inside as those sultry dark eyes looked up sideways, privately adoring and yet dancing somehow with mischief, too, at the knowledge which only the two lovers shared— Trying to maintain a fa├žade of nonchalance, he nevertheless had always trembled faintly inside when he plopped down his backpack and lowered his frame into the chair beside the pleasant curve of her hip, so familiar and yet so agonizingly untouchable in the mundane public world where mere mortals strode. How carelessly they bantered, just two playful friends awaiting the start of the lecture! Ah, but once the professor began and all eyes turned to the dusty chalkboard, with what gentle longing he had gazed across the profile of Lauren’s professional and studious and yet secretly mischievous young face! The affectionate boy would have been content to smile fondly across the pretendedly aloof side of her cream-complected visage forever, it seemed.

Driving somewhere in Lauren’s trim red Civic, windows rolled down and the wind playing in her silken black hair— It pleased her, it seemed, to let Rick drive, and it made him feel so much more the man. Calm and confident at the wheel, he steered one-handed, his other palm comfortably intimate and yet completely undemanding upon the girl’s bare knee. How shapely and youthful and sleek she was, how sly and playful and fun—and his. Lauren might laugh at some witticism he had made, her pretty head thrown back in delight, the flash of her teeth flattering him so deeply, for the response of this co-equal in his life was always honest and open-hearted, never fawning or merely humoring him. And if the radio ever aired that playful song by the Pretenders or the deeply sensuous “Because the Night,” ah, how either of those tunes could bring it all back, the once bottled-up emotions of that magical first night together! Sometimes, beaming as the music flowed through his veins as sinuously as the supple white hips that had rolled so evocatively beneath his palms and, finally, upraised, beneath his sighing thrusts, he might bring her slender hand to his lips and kiss the back of it in the tenderest reverence.

Or, afterward, lying drowsy and relaxed beyond belief in tangled sweaty sheets in her apartment over on Gunson Avenue, completely without barrier or pretense or pose, knowing how very, very special it had been, and still was— Perhaps he blinked lazily at up the familiar cracks in the ceiling of the girl’s bedroom, those cryptic patterns of slowly spreading fractures which just moments ago her beatifically slitted eyes could not even see. Yes, and now she snuggled so comfortably against him, not asleep and yet with those still-flushed lids contentedly closed, her soft head cradled trustingly upon his outstretched arm and her palm tenderly possessive atop his bare chest where she could feel his heart beating—for her, for her, for her! Benignly aglow, he might lean over and kiss the flushed ivory plane of his darling’s placid forehead, making those pretty lips twitch in the gentlest kind of smile. Ah, how easy this unacknowledged second life had been, how comfortable!



About the author:
Rafeeq O. McGiveron is a writer and educator with a knowledge of...well, writing and education, along with cats, stray bits of literature and history, and other miscellany. Having spent over 20 years as a professional academic, he holds a B.A. with Honor in English and History, an M.A. in English and History, and another M.A. in English. In the first 12 years of his career he taught English at places like Michigan State University, Lansing Community College, and Western Michigan University, while since the turn of the century he has focused on advising students at LCC.

As a writer, McGiveron currently may be best known for his literary criticism. In academic journals he has published some two-dozen articles on a fair range of authors, though it is his work on Ray Bradbury and Robert A. Heinlein that probably is most familiar to students. In 2013 he served as volume editor for a text on Fahrenheit 451 for Salem Press, after recruiting scholars from all around the world and writing about 10,000 words of it himself as well. In 2014 he released his novel, Student Body.


2 comments:

Rafeeq McGiveron said...

Thanks for the opportunity to guest-post!

Rafeeq

CCAM said...

It was our pleasure <3