It's Katherine Scott Nelson Day at CCLaP! And as usual, as happy as I am to see her new book with the center, the runaway coming-of-age novella Have You Seen Me, take over the front page here at the site, it unfortunately means that the center's previous newest book, Jason Fisk's experimental "micro-story" collection Salt Creek Anthology, will be getting relegated today to the special hell known as the CCLaP back archives. (Don't worry, the book will still be available; and it's really great, too, so I encourage you to download a copy if you never have before.) As a last hurrah here on the front page, I asked Jason if he might write one of the center's "passing the torch" essays, in which the center's last published author mentions the things he likes about the newest one, and here's what he had to say. Thanks very much, Jason!
CCLaP continues to live up to its claim, "daring writers, exquisite books" with its latest publication, Have You Seen Me, by Katherine Scott Nelson. This novella is a modern coming-of-age tale that has the potential to be as cutting-edge to this generation, as J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye was to its generation. It is a novella that deals with issues relevant to today's teens: running away from home, self-harm, boredom, sexual identity, dysfunctional families, depression, and even homophobic grandpas.
While many of the novella's edgier topics may initially seem cliché and formulaic for the coming-of-age genre, Have You Seen Me gently leads its readers into much deeper, darker water. There is a certain tension achieved by Nelson that I, as a writer, am very envious of; a tension created through her characters that is somehow both bizarre and humane.
Just about every character in this novella is carrying a life-altering secret (whether stated outright or implied); Nelson deals with the climatic events generated from these secrets in a realistic, sophisticated manner that elevates this novella far beyond a simple coming-of-age story into something much, much more. This is a coming-of-age tale that goes beyond speaking to a specific generation; it is a novella that speaks to inner young adult in each and every one of us. It makes us forget who we have become, and takes us back to who we were becoming...