Kathleen Alcott’s debut novel The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets opens with two babies, crawling around each other on the floor, drawn together like magnets, as their parents look on. At first, the relationship between the two—Jackson and Ida—is unknown. Are they siblings? Cousins? Related by blood at all? As the story unwinds, we find that though unrelated, they share a bond that transcends blood, lasting through the end of the novel, in the midst of death, tragedy, mental illness, cross-country moves and ill-advised relationship maneuvers. “The majority of our lives we were an exhausting display that others looked on, confused and ashamed to be watching,” Ida says, after a long passage describing Jackson’s traits, all the things she’s grown to know so well as she grows up with him. What follows is a fractured love story, a story that falls into lyricism more often that not, and one that flirts constantly with a sense of the tragic.
Alcott is a young writer, but you wouldn’t know it from this gripping, beautifully written debut novel. The Petaluma native, who now lives in New York, writes with the confidence of someone who’s been fine-tuning her work for a long while. Recently, Alcott told Brad Listi, host of the Other People podcast, that she’d decided to dedicate herself to writing completely after dropping out of college. Within a few years, she’d published on The Rumpus, and in notable literary journals American Short Fiction and Slice Magazine. Soon, she had an agent and set to work finishing a novel that had been relegated to the “unfinished” pile. The result is a dark story, one that the reader may want to look away from at times, about those we love and those we take advantage of and those we just can’t live without.
This Copperfield’s Debut Dinner with Kathleen Alcott takes place on Friday, October 12 at Risibisi. 154 Petaluma Blvd. North, Petaluma. 6pm. $65 ticket includes dinner and a book. 707.823.8991 ex215
Home made focaccia bread served with dinner
Choice of Soup of the Day, Caesar Salad or Mixed Organic Greens Salad in
Choice of Chicken Piccata, Vegetarian Risotto or Rigatoni Bolognese (Meat
Slice of home made Tiramisu or Italian Gelato
One complimentary glass of wine or beverage is included.