In the 1960s, Charles W. Brice was in a soul band in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and still has his Ludwig Oyster Pearl drum set with Zildjion symbols. He was a Ph.D. psychotherapist for thirty years and now is a recovering psychoanalyst who writes full time in Pittsburgh, Pa. His wife, Judy, is a psychiatrist and poet, and their son, Ari, is a ceramic artist. Since he’s been writing plays lately, he’s been reading lots of them. He Loved Neil Labute’s Reasons to be Pretty, and thought that Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman was the closest any contemporary playwright has come to Shakespeare. He also just finished a terrific literary thriller, The Odds, by Kathleen George, an education on how to get the reader to suspend disbelief.
Steve Amick’s superb second novel, Nothing But a Smile (Pantheon, 2009), opens in June of 1944, with Winton (“Wink”) S. Dutton, a promising young cartoonist in civilian life, walking the streets of Chicago. Wink is home from the war early, his drawing hand having been mangled when, hung-over while doing an assignment for Yank Magazine, he misheard an ensign’s instructions and touched a submarine flywheel that he should have simply drawn. But prior to shipping back home, Wink had promised his buddy, Bill (“Chesty”) Chesterton, to look up his wife, Sal, in Chicago, so he might tell her how faithful Chesty has been to her, and how much he loves her. And right away, Amick has readers worrying over their meeting; the bleached bones of an affair have been set out in a row…
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