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- March 2014: Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece
- February 2014: Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age
- January 2014: Full Upright and Locked Position by Mark Gerchick '73, P'13
- December 2013: This Indian Country by Fred Hoxie '69
- November 2013: The Partner Track by Helen Wan '95
- October 2013: The Forage House by Tess Taylor '99
- September 2013: Inferno by Dan Brown '86
- August 2013: Six Years by Harlan Coben '84, P'16
- July 2013: The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- June 2013 - Brothers Emanuel by Ezekiel Emanuel '79
- May 2013 - Cadaver by Jonah Ansell '03
- April 2013 - Masters of Disaster by Chris Lehane '90
- March 2013 - Schroder by Amity Gaige
- February 2013: El Iluminado by Ilan Stavans
- January 2013: Everything Under the Sun by David Suzuki '58
- December 2012: Arcadia by Lauren Groff
- November 2012: The Hidden Europe by Francis Tapon '92
- October 2012: The Price of Inequality by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- September 2012: Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum '99
- August 2012: Hitlerland by Andrew Nagorski '69
- July 2012: Dinner: A Love Story by Jenny Rosenstrach '93
- June 2012: Vineyard at the End of the World by Ian Mount '92
- May 2012: God's Jury by Cullen Murphy '74
- April 2012: Big Birthday by Kate Hosford '88
- March 2012: EyeMinded by Kellie Jones '81
- February 2012: 1493 by Charles Mann '76
- December 2011: The Vices by Lawrence Douglas
- November 2011: Don't Cross Your Eyes by Aaron Carroll '94
- October 2011: Come On All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder '89
- September 2011: The Pale King by David Foster Wallace '85
- August 2011: Scoundrels in Law by Cait Murphy '83
- July 2011: Terror and Wonder by Blair Kamin '79
- June 2011: What Should I Do? by Professor Alex George
- May 2011: Model Nazi by Professor Catherine Epstein
- April 2011: A Thread of Sky by Deanna Fei '99
- March 2011: Unlikely Allies by Joel Paul '77
- February 2011: Secret Historian by Justin Spring '84
- December 2010: The Best of Foxtrot by Bill Amend '84
- November 2010: Higher Education? by Andrew Hacker '51
- October 2010: Routes of Man by Ted Conover '80
- September 2010: The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick '75
- August 2010: Innocent by Scott Turow '70
- July 2010: Simple Fresh Southern by Matt and Ted Lee '93
- June 2010: Ballet's Magic Kingdom by Professor Stanely Rabinowitz
- May 2010: Ecological Intelligence by Daniel Goleman '68
- April 2010: Andean Express by Adrian Althoff '04
- March 2010: Freefall by Joseph Stiglitz '64
- February 2010: Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl '89
- December 2009: What to Read When by Pam Allyn '84
- November 2009: On Poets and Poetry by William H. Pritchard '53
- October 2009: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell '95
- September 2009: Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter Pouncey
- August 2009: The End of Overeating by David Kessler '73
- July 2009: The Mirror Effect by Dr. Drew Pinsky '80
- June 2009: Art and Politics of Science by Harold Varmus '61
- May 2009: Hold Tight by Harlan Coben '84
- April 2009: Passing Strange by Marni Sandweiss
- March 2009: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian '82
- February 2009: Loneliness as a Way of Life by Tom Dumm
- January 2009: Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein '88
- December 2008: The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff '01
- November 2008: The Most Famous Man in America by Debby Applegate '89
- October 2008: The Thing Itself by Dick Todd '62
- September 2008: Are We Rome by Cullen Murphy '74
A Message from the Author
It took me over two decades to publish a follow-up to my first novel, Presumed Innocent. To be honest, I thought for many years that I never would write a sequel. I always thought self-imitation is an inherently limiting thing for a writer, and I was afraid of trying to equal a book whose success at the time depended in part on breaking new ground
But then, in late 2005, during a period of introspection provoked when my last child (Eve, Amherst ’09) had went off to college, I began to have some ideas about writing about Rusty Sabich. For months I'd had a Post-It note sitting on my desk which said only, "A man is sitting on a bed in which the dead body of a woman lies." I didn't get any further than that image (based, I surmise, on Edward Hopper’s painting “Excursion into Philosophy”), so that I had hesitated even to write it down. And then one morning, I turned around and I looked at the note and I said, "Oh, my God, the man sitting on that bed is Rusty Sabich." And then, of course, who's the woman? I had a pretty quick determination that it was his wife, Barbara.
I think in retrospect, it was important for me to go back to the beginning. I was coming up to sixty myself, looking both backwards and forwards for a variety of personal reasons. I see now what I didn't see then, which is that I wanted to go back to the very start and, as it were, start again. And at this stage, I was no longer worried about constraining myself. By now, enough time has passed that I thought many people would be curious about Rusty Sabich — starting first of all with me.
One of the deepest truths about life is that people are sometimes compelled for reasons they don't understand to keep repeating the same mistakes. So I regarded the parallel circumstances of Rusty’s being accused of murder in both Presumed Innocent and Innocent as deeply revealing of the character, and full of a meaning that wasn't as clearly there the first time around. All the characters in Innocent are informed by the experience of the first book, and are trying desperately, in a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes, not to step in the same river twice.
I have to say I like this book a lot. I suppose it's not surprising to hear an author say that. What I really enjoy about it is the emotional complexity of all of the characters. All of that evolves out of trying to be faithful to the situation of Presumed Innocent—and saying to myself, what would it be like to be the man who had survived a cataclysmic experience? Rusty has spent the years since his trial trying to rebuild his life to what he hopes it would have been, and reaches that peak only to recognize that the effort has not made him happy.
I also asked myself what would it be like to be the child—the only child—in a household where there's all these dark secrets. It's true that Rusty and Barbara’s son Nat has been protected. And yet he's had big stuff to deal with as a kid: a clinically depressed mother, a father accused of murder. I take some satisfaction that at the end of the day he's grown up. I thought Nat was, in some ways, the most interesting character in the book, facing the most dramatic challenges—father accused of murdering mom—which he responds to with as much courage as he can muster, which still leaves him blind to certain facts.
But Nat’s is just one of multiple voices heard in this novel. If a book is going well, there is always a character who resonates unexpectedly. I don't think that when I started writing Innocent I had the idea of writing from prosecuting attorney Tommy Molto's point of view. But I got up one morning and tried it, because I had an inkling that maybe it would be good to show the investigation of Barbara's death in parallel with what had gone on in Rusty's life a year before. Tommy ends up as Rusty’s doppelganger, a man who’s profited from time and dared to change to his own great benefit.
Once I had opened up the perspectives beyond Rusty, I felt obliged to offer other characters’ viewpoints, including that of Rusty’s senior law clerk Anna Vostic, because I don't think she can be as fully accepted as a character unless you really see how she understands herself.
There is a truth that every reader reads a book his or her own way. But art of all kinds also depends on creating universals; in the case of narrative, we seek to create a fully imagined individual, a character, to whose life readers have something of a universal reaction. There are great differences in nuance in terms of readers' responses, but if there is a common element, a book can probably be deemed a success. I invite you to decide about Innocent.
- Scott Turow '70
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