The Book Gazette is hosting an excerpt from alternate history fiction / commercial fiction “Catcher’s Keeper”.
Read the Excerpt
Alden’s words nag like Monday morning’s alarm clock: …you stole my journal…published it behind my back. Not only do these words prove I’m an asshole, but now this MD guy knows it. I stare down at the book in my hands, my name screaming off the cover in bold, Times New Roman. On the back cover is a photo of me. I’m leaning against a tree, grinning smugly with my arms folded. You know who I see in that photo? A prick who should get what he deserves, even if it’s delivered by some overzealous fan. I can picture it all unraveling: an image of me flashes on the screen, my hand blocking the camera, the caption scrolling: Who’s the real author?
This fucking book. Measly. Insignificant. And yet—it’s spurred all this bullshit. I should burn every last one of them.
I turn back to the cover to hide my face—from Alden especially.
Alden eyes me through slits. “MD doesn’t care about you. Waste of time.”
I shove the book under my arm. “So, his plan is to…?”
“He’s still zappy for the book. Maybe he doesn’t care how it got published. Fiona’s worried he’s going to leak it to the press. Your plagiarism. But he wouldn’t need my help for that.”
“What would he need your help with?”
Alden shrugs. “The only thing that came up on the train…the only plan we talked about was getting John Lennon’s autograph.”
“What does that have to do with the book?”
His eyes flicker to the map above the doors as the train slows down. “Next stop is ours,” he says.
Like a shot, Alden is on the platform, and then bounds up the stairs two at a time. As soon as we come into daylight, he lights up a cigarette. It hits me: daylight. Damn! I pound the book with my fist and catch up to Alden.
“This isn’t going to work, Alden. It’s the middle of the day.”
He keeps walking. I wave the book in his line of vision.
“Alden, this all takes place at night. In the middle of the night. It makes no sense to go to the Edmont now. The damn Lavender Room won’t even be open.”
He stops, sucks on his cigarette, staring at the traffic. It seems colder here, more windy. I’m shivering, waiting for him. I almost ask him for a cigarette just to warm my hands, but—
“We’re not going to the goddam Edmont.” And he picks up his absurdly fast pace again. I work my stride into a jog, wishing I had a hat. The kind with flaps on the sides to keep my ears warm. I smile inwardly, remembering the kid in the book like he’s an old buddy. I look at Alden weaving his lanky body through the sparse crowd. His hair is an uncombed mop, and his worn jacket falls at the hip of his ripped jeans. He looks like a big kid. But laugh lines are hidden beneath his scruff, and his eyes have a depth and an honesty reserved for Buddhist monks or tribal elders, reminding me what I already know: This kid has been through something. Nothing is more important than protecting him now, my little brother. I have to make things right.
Author: Johannah Davies Spero
Genre: Commercial Fiction / Alternate History Fiction
What if Holden Caulfield was around when John Lennon was shot?
In 1980 John Lennon was killed by Mark David Chapman, who believed he was Holden Caulfield, narrator of the classic The Catcher in the Rye. After the shooting, Chapman remained on the scene calmly reading the book, which he later offered to police as “his statement.” Catcher’s Keeper asks the question, “What if Holden had met Chapman, learned of his plan, and tried to prevent the assassination?”
Johannah Davies Spero was born near a pristine lake in the Adirondacks and has lived in various cities such as St. Petersburg (Russia), Indianapolis, Dallas, and Boston. She has pursued her love of narrative through degrees in English literature, Russian language, and teaching—and has worked as an actress, a yoga instructor, a web design entrepreneur, a freelance writer, and a high school English teacher. She lives in the Northeast with her husband and three young sons.
There is a tour-wide giveaway for a signed paperback copy of the book. The giveaway is US/CA only.