How do you write a smash first novel? Author (and OUP Law Editor) Matthew Gallaway comes to Oxford book club to discuss his book The Metropolis Case. Topics include: Pittsburgh, advice for writers…and what’s up with the incest scene?
Featured in this Episode:
- Matthew Gallaway, author of The Metropolis Case and this tumblr (featuring some of the best personification we’ve seen in ages!)
- Book club members Michelle Lipinski, Grace Labatt, Michelle Rafferty, and Justyna Zajac.
To accompany this podcast, we also present the following excerpt from the The Metropolis Case.
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Through Its Street Names, the City Is a Mystic Cosmos
NEW YORK CITY, 1960. Anna Prus stepped out of her apartment building onto Seventy-fourth Street, where she paused to glance back at Central Park, which looked opaque and grainy like an old newsreel. It had been snowing for days, but a sallow, expectant glow emanating from the crenellated perimeter of the park told her the storm was nearing an end. While she did not relish the idea of negotiating a trip downtown, the transformation of the city into a tundra, with squalls of powder and amorphous mounds where there had once been cars, mailboxes, and shrubs, struck her as the perfect accompaniment to the magic, improbable turn the day had taken, now that she was about to make her Isolde debut at the Metropolitan Opera.
Though Anna was not an unknown, she had to this point in her career been relegated to smaller houses and (except for some minor roles) hired by the Met as an alternate to the type of leading soprano she had always wanted to be. But as sometimes happened with singers her age—Anna was forty—her voice, after six years at the conservatory and over fifteen more of training, auditioning, and performing, had at last blossomed, giving her reason to believe that she had found her calling in the Wagnerian repertory. Which is not to say her future had been unfurled like a red carpet; if anything, her reputation as a dependable but hardly breathtaking talent still preceded her, and for this current production, she had been brought in only to “cover” the Isolde and so had expected—as she had always done in the past—to spend her nights in the wings, anxiously hoping and not hoping (because she was not one to wish ill health or misfortune on anyone) that she would finally get her chance.
This time her luck was better; from the start, the lead struggled with the role and after much gossip and speculation had finally canceled, which meant Anna was going on tonight and possibly for the entire run if she could deliver the type of performance the Met general manager, Rudolf Bing (having made a point of attending one of her cover rehearsals in the event of just this contingency), expected of her. Anna buried her scarf-wrapped chin deep into the neck of her fur coat and wrapped her arms around her bag, which held a carefully folded dress, shoes, and jewelry for the opening-night party scheduled for after the show. She walked forward into the wind, nimbly tracing a line through a group of men digging out with picks and shovels, and forced herself to review a mental list of exactly what she needed to attend to—wig, costume, makeup, voice—and whom she needed to see at the theater—Mr. Bing, the maestro, the director, the Tristan—before her seven o’clock curtain.
Excerpted from The Metropolis Case: A Novel. Copyright @ 2010 by Matthew Gallaway. Reprinted by Permission of Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
Headline image credit: Pittsburgh. CC0 via Pixabay.