New Novel Challenging, Intense, Says Vivian
Robert Vivian spent three years working on the recently published Lamb Bright Saviors, the second novel in the Alma College Associate Professor’s Tall Grass Trilogy.
The novel, which explores themes such as hope and redemption, went through at least seven drafts during this time, says Vivian. It was originally four times longer than its 198 pages.
The plot follows an itinerant preacher and his young assistant across the Nebraska prairie, where the preacher realizes he has reached the final stage of his self-proclaimed life’s work—to die in front of a group of strangers. Through this experience, each member of this unlikely group has to reckon with the sins of his or her past.
Vivian’s native Nebraska serves as the inspiration for the trilogy.
“I thought I would leave the country, the landscape, behind when I left Nebraska,” he says, “but I turn to it almost all the time when writing fiction. I love Michigan, but I miss the horizon.”
Another quality the novels in the Tall Grass Trilogy share is the way in which they’re written. The material, Vivian admits, is challenging and intense.
“Each novel is told by several different voices,” he says. “The landscape and the fictional technique are really what makes it work as a trilogy.”
The trilogy has been well received in the literary world. Publisher’s Weekly describes Vivian as “a latter-day Faulkner set loose with no editorial restraints.” Of Lamb Bright Saviors, the trade news magazine also says, “There is no need to suspend your disbelief for this story. You can only go along for the brilliantly written ride, full of sound and fury that signifies little but moves us intensely.”
Vivian’s experience as a working writer, which is a huge part of his life, is something he is able to share with his students.
“Writing influences the teaching I do,” says Vivian, who teaches English at Alma College. “I look at novels as a reader and a teacher but also as a writer.”
The first part of the novel will be featured in an upcoming issue of Poets & Writers magazine. The final installment of the Tall Grass Trilogy will be published next year.
Posted: Fri, January 22nd, 2010 at 2:01PM