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Author Micah Nathan reads in Hamburg

HAMBURG — Bestselling author Micah Nathan, whose latest book “Jack the Bastard and Other Stories” is currently on the bookshelves, said the past and all its trappings and revelations is what fuels much of his work.

“It’s an interesting question and something I’ve been thinking about,” Nathan said, from his home in Holliston, Mass. “A lot of my themes, I’m told, are about people leaving and going somewhere else and bringing the past with them. There’s an author, whose name I can’t remember right now, who said there are only two themes writers really write about: leaving home [and] coming back.”

“Jack the Bastard” is Nathan’s third book. His debut novel, “Gods of Aberdeen,” was about a young man’s leaving his foster family and attending a small, prestigious college. His second, “Losing Graceland,” is about a young man’s abandoning his dead-end job and meeting a man who believes he is Elvis. The two of them embarked on a 900-mile search for the man’s granddaughter.

“Jack the Bastard” is full of such comings and goings. In it, a wanderer returns from his life at sea to his family in the suburbs and a “lost soul” arrives at a mansion where guests lounge freely with wild tigers. Nine stories comprise the work, ranging in time from the mid-60s New York City to 1950s Iowa, as well as post-earthquake Los Angeles.

Nathan said that, when he graduated Hamburg High School in 1991, he saw himself as many of his future characters would: drifting a bit and wanting something new for himself. He had moved to Boston, N.Y. with his family in 1975 when he was 2 years old and while the Western New York area was a place he had enjoyed growing up, he said he felt there was more in the world.

He attended Buffalo State College and the State University of New York at Buffalo, eventually earning his degree in anthropology. After he married, he and his wife moved to Boston, Mass. in 2001, where he currently lives and works.

Still, he said that Western New York looms in his mind. Nathan explained that, throughout the years, he has worked through a kaleidoscope of emotions, ranging from anger for having felt that the Buffalo area wasn’t for him to a longing to return to the city on the lake and country hills outside Hamburg.

“When I left Western New York I felt, like a lot of people who do, a little anger,” he said. “My family stayed, my wife’s family stayed and I was angry that the area couldn’t keep me.”

Nathan said he began to experience a sort of reconciliation with his past and the memories he had of Western New York, as time went on. He said he found himself talking about the area in interviews and, to this day, he reads most local papers online.

“Of course, we visit as much as we can,” he said. “It’s changed a lot, but not always for the better. But that’s just my opinion.”

Nathan will return to Hamburg at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 at the Hamburg Public Library, 102 Buffalo St., where he will read from one of his favorite short stories and answer audience questions and comments.

Nathan is currently working on a new book, which will be set in New York City. The work focuses on a man whose friend jumps to his death from a balcony, during a party.

“The work focuses on how that event changes his life,” Nathan said. “It’s unlike anything else I’ve written.”

He said he is looking forward to hearing the questions the audience may have, including the state of fiction and the means by which stories are communicated, such as eBooks.

“I think eBooks and similar technology is fantastic,” he said. “Everyone who I know who has one thinks they’re fantastic, too. It’s really about doing whatever it takes to get people reading.”

For more information about the author, visit www.micahnathan.com.
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