by Robert Gardner
Montgomery County Community College’s Central Campus Bookstore recently hosted Dr. Marc Schuster, assistant professor of English and published author, for a book-signing event. On Nov. 16, Shuster read the first chapter of his latest novel The Grievers to an audience that included College faculty, staff and students, as well as members of the public.
The Grievers is a semi-autobiographical account, told from the perspective of Charley Schwartz, a graduate of Philadelphia’s elitist St. Leonard’s Academy—a fictitious, college preparatory school. The suicide of high school friend, Billy Chin, sends Charley on a journey of understanding and misunderstandings. Ultimately, the story presents it main theme of forgiveness as Charley makes peace with the past, present, and perhaps even the future. The author’s sense of humor shines through the serious subject matter with a sarcastic, witty style.
Schuster demonstrated his wit during the bookstore event, recounting an email he received from his real-life alma mater. The email, which inspired the machismo of Schwartz’s “Academy,” reminded Schuster of the attitude held by many high school males, particularly male friendship.
“Some accept this social convention,” he said of the notion that men must be tough. “Some do not.”
Schuster admitted, The Grievers is an “actual tribute” to his friend Wei Han Chu. The novel, in fact, plays tribute to “all the characters in [my] life.”
“Forgive the past,” he counseled. “We all grow up, change. People do grow up.”
For Schuster, The Grievers is his fourth published work. His earlier titles include:
The Greatest Show in the Galaxy: A Discerning Fan’s Guide to ‘Doctor Who,’ which he co-authored with fellow faculty member Tom Powers (McFarland & Company, 2007); and
The Singular Exploits of Wonder Mom and Party Girl, two editions (PS Books, 2009; Permanent Press, 2011).
“I’m just happy my fans read,” Schuster closed with a grin.