Wednesday, January 20, 2010

'American Moses' author live

By Joanna P. DelBuono and Erica Sherman

Courier-Life Publications investigative journalist and musician Stephen Witt will read excerpts from his debut novel, “American Moses” at 4 p.m., Sunday, January 31, at Le Cairo Lounge, 189 East Third Street in Greenwich Village.

The reading will also feature performances by the band Social Studies, featuring Witt on guitar, harmonica and vocals; Johnny Jackpot on the banjo; Marco G on bongos, and ’Dasia on vocals and tambourine.

“American Moses” strikes that elusive balance between schmaltzy and sharp, eliciting a combination of sympathy and irony for the story’s protagonist, unsung hero Southie Lewis. The novel’s quirky cast of characters includes Southie’s African-American wife Zippy, their two kids — a son, and a daughter embarking on her own journey to womanhood — and a merry band of nomads who abandon their fictional Upstate New York town of Port Decker to find peace and harmony half a country away.

The novel flows seamlessly as Southie, much like the delightfully flawed biblical character after whom the novel is named, leads his fellow adventurers on a jaunty quest to find the new Promised Land…in Las Vegas. Along the way Lewis and his band of ‘brethren’ encounter a cast of colorful personalities — from the somewhat smarmy Dick McAllister who turns out to have a heart of gold, to the ‘Creator’, who Southie becomes acquainted with in Dunkin’ Donuts — and more than a few surprises.

Witt is so comfortable with his material, and his prose is so down home comfy that I couldn’t help but feel right in the middle of this dysfunctional wagon train, complete with all its joys, sorrows and laughter.

This book is for anyone who has ever dreamed of packing it all up, pots, pans and the whole Megillah, to find a better life.“American Moses” is a great read — I can hardly wait for the sequel.


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