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GODS OF ABERDEEN by Micah Nathan

Micah NathanIf youíre interested in why I started writing GODS OF ABERDEEN the answer is simple: it was a story I wanted to read. Years later after numerous rewrites I became like a magician watching his own performance. He sees all the mirrors and false bottoms, he knows how itís going to end, and he doesnít notice the art anymore, only the craft.

But it didnít begin that way. It began as a mental image, one thirty-second scene conceived sometime around my junior year of college. A young boy, dressed in a threadbare coat, carrying a duffel bag with all his possessions, trudging across a snow-covered lawn. All the usual gothic imagery applies - swirling winter sky, bare trees clacking in the wind, ahead a massive stone building with towers and arches and stained glass. Itís the student union for Aberdeen College, and the boy stops at the base of its front steps and all he can do is look up and stare.

From that scene sprouted my story; a coming-of-age novel that squeaks between the Scylla of The Catcher in the Rye and the Charybdes of A Separate Peace. I know comparisons are dangerous, especially with those two behemoths, but their shadows fall across every coming-of-age novel Iíve read, and they most certainly fall across mine. Iíll be the first to confess.

My narrator is Eric Dunne, a brilliant 16 year-old orphan who leaves his foster family and their New Jersey tenement, and begins his search for an identity at Aberdeen College, a wealthy liberal arts school in Connecticut. His intellect canít rescue him from alienation - it makes it worse, actually, a 16 year-old whose intelligence is only matched by his naivetť - but he soon finds acceptance into a small circle of students, all of whom live off-campus with a Medieval history professor in his country estate, helping him complete his three-book series on the Middle Ages.

What follows? A charismatic professor obsessed with his legacy, Ericís reluctant foray into alchemy, the seductions of an older woman. An old librarian who claims heís immortal, and a cocktail of students too wealthy and too intelligent for their years. If, as the saying goes, a path of excess leads to the tower of wisdom, my novel illustrates what happens when one sets out onto that path without a moral compass.

I chose alchemy, and specifically the Philosopherís Stone, for its metaphorical power. Alchemists were learned men who spent their lives searching for immortality, unaware their quest took the very life they worked so hard to prolong. They believed in both empiricism and faith, in the sacred and the profane, and somewhere along that continuum walked alchemy on the thinnest of ropes. I found it fascinating; man pitting his mortality against his intelligence, as if he could outthink death. And how apt, I believed, to set this within the academic milieu. ďPublish or perishĒ can be interpreted in many ways, including in its most literal sense.

Although I started writing GODS OF ABERDEEN for myself, it quickly evolved into something less narcissistic. I wanted to tell a good story, and it didnít matter if I knew how it was going to end, because in many ways the story never ended. A good tale is organic and always changing, and if the reader canít see the mirrors and false bottoms then the story works. To that end, I hope Iíve succeeded.

About the author

Micah Nathan has been a radio talk show host, an amateur kickboxer, a motivational speaker, a filmmaker, and a strength and conditioning coach. He was born in Hollywood , raised in Western New York farm country, and now lives in Brookline, MA with his wife. This is his first novel.

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