By Judy Wakefield
---- — Author Peggy Rambach captured considerable attention for her last novel. Though fiction, the book wove in the details of her tumultuous, seven-year marriage to Andre Dubus, the late short-story writer 20 years her senior who died in 1999.
Rambach published “Fighting Gravity in 2001, two years after Dubus’ death.
A dozen years later, the couple’s daughters, Cadence and Madeleine Dubus, are all grown up. Rambach lives quietly on Arundel Street, where she spends a lot of her time writing.
The fruits of that writing can be found within the pages of her latest novel, “The Lons.” And make no mistake, it’s quite different from her last.
Sadness has been replaced with a smile as Rambach — with the encouragement of her daughters — simply decided to have some fun with writing this time around.
A college writing professor at the graduate level, Rambach’s background is all about literary and essay writing. She just had an essay published in a higher education trade publication. She also teaches creative writing to men and women at the South Bay House of Correction in Boston.
But she delves into a completely different genre with her new read, which features everyday characters and real-life relationships. Leonard Slinket is her leading man. He wants to figure out why his homegrown lons — short for watermelons — are Wiffle ball-shaped when they should be much bigger and ready to harvest. Slinket calls on two good friends to help investigate the mystery of the lons.
“In this story of adventure, loyalty, love and connection, we come to find that the lons are not much different from us,” the book jacket reads. “... There’s no doubting their power and their beauty.”
Rambach said that theme of magical realism, sprinkled with humor and adventure, was deliberate.
“I wanted to write about the good in all of us ... and I wanted to have some fun with this book,” Rambach said. “It’s a very different way of writing for me, but I am very happy with the book.”
It took some time, however. The manuscript sat idle for seven years, she said, before she finally decided to take the publishing plunge. She had the young adult readers genre in mind and got busy finding a publisher. The Paper Journey Press of North Carolina agreed to publish the book, and “The Lons” was finally released last month. Andover artist and sculptor Pat Keck provided the cover art as well as illustrations inside.
“It’s a family-friendly book, really ...,” Rambach said. “I hope adult readers enjoy it and I think they will.”
If the New York Times — which credits Rambach for her ability to “get well inside emotional events while keeping her detached regard unruffled” — is any indication, they will.
Peggy Rambach will be leading several readings to promote “The Lon” in the coming weeks. Here are some of her local stops:
Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m., Andover Bookstore, 89R Main St.
Thursday, Dec. 5, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Memorial Hall Library, 2 North Main St., Andover
“The Lons” is available for $16.95. Visit www.thepaperjourneypress.com for more.