Steven Rowley (Lily and the Octopus) explores the complicated relationship between mothers and sons in his wise and deeply engrossing second novel, The Editor. Set in Manhattan in the early 1990s, the story centers on James Smale, an aspiring writer in his late 20s, who has worked "a never-ending string of toxic, depressing temp jobs" and is in a committed--although maybe not forever--relationship with Daniel, a loving and spirited companion who works in the theater.
The book opens with a dramatic and dynamic scene that establishes the tone of the novel: James is summoned to the high-powered offices of Doubleday--the book company has expressed interest in his novel, The Quarantine, a semi-autobiographical story about an emotionally estranged mother and son. Nerves and self-consciousness plague James as he waits in a conference room, and matters grow even more overwhelming when in walks Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis--former first lady of the United States who has become an esteemed editor in the last third of her life.
That moment marks the start of a working relationship that will later turn into friendship. Perceptive, analytical and astute Jackie becomes a literary mentor to James. She also raises questions--on the page and off--that gently nudge James to dig deeper into the emotional landscape of his fraught relationship with his mother and the rest of his family.
The resonance of Rowley's originality and sensitivity shines on every page. He has written a refreshing, superbly crafted novel of hard-won self-discovery filled with big, well-paced scenes and a pitch-perfect blend of humor and compassion that will charm and fully engage readers. --Kathleen Gerard, blogger at Reading Between the Lines.