Friday, April 8, 2011

Local Author, Who Grew Up at Tattered Cover Customer, Has A Signing There Tonight!

Sidelined from coaching his sons' baseball team because he can't resist hollering at loafers, lollygaggers, and space cadets, Ed O'Fallon hopes focusing on his daughter's tee-ball team will calm his temper. But just as Ed prepares to guide the Purple Unicorns to their best season, his work as a Denver police officer changes his life forever. O'Fallon bursts into a home on a no-knock warrant, expecting to find drugs, but instead encounters a man pointing a gun. Ed kills Salvador Santillano, a Mexican immigrant he had more in common with than he could ever imagine. Worse, Ed learns his commanding officer made a grave mistake on the warrant that will force everyone in Denver to take sides.

Separated from her husband Salvador after their worst fight ever, Patricia Maestas discovers the police have killed him. Certain her husband never sold drugs, Patricia pushes to find out the truth behind the fatal raid, even while trying to keep her volatile, grieving son Ray from following a shady friend into a north-side gang.

But Ray isn't just any disaffected adolescent he's a left-handed pitching phenomenon who throws a blistering fastball. Patricia hopes enrolling him in a competitive league will keep him away from danger, but instead it puts them on a collision course with Ed, whose sons play in the same league on a rival team.

Ed and Patricia are unaware of the interconnections between them until a showdown at the regional tournament becomes inevitable, and their lives are forever altered.

Jackie says:
"Local author Jenny Shank has written a powerhouse of a novel. Set in Denver, with plenty of recognizable scenery for us locals, it is certainly influenced by a recent incident involving the Denver Police Department.

Ed is a beat cop, and happily so. He likes keeping a eye on his city. To make a few extra bucks, he sometimes signs on with the SWAT team to help with raids. On a March afternoon he was doing exactly that with a no-knock warrant (that means the police enter without announcing themselves to have the element of surprise) when he finds a man in the house who is clearly confused and bleary. Ed orders him to show both of his hands, and the man extends what seems to be gun and Ed hears what he thinks is a shot shatter a mirror behind him. So he shoots to defend himself, and kills the man.

Unfortunately, the police were in the wrong house, and the gun turns out to have not been fired at all, in fact it wasn't even functional.

But this is not a story about a political mess. This is a story of two families--Ed's and the family of the man he killed, and what it's like to deal with the aftermath of such a terrible thing. It becomes more complicated as the victim's children unknowingly become part of
the same youth sports circle--their sons are all very, very good baseball players.

The complex emotions of spouses, children, and an outraged community are aptly portrayed in a book whose pages seem to turn themselves. A story of being human in a time of personal tragedy that lingers in the mind long after the cover is closed."

Meet the author tonight at 7:30 pm at our Historic Lodo store.

Jenny shares a special note about the role Tattered Cover has played in her life:

It is no exaggeration to say that the opportunity to talk about my first novel, The Ringer, at the Tattered Cover is a lifelong dream come true. I grew up in Denver, and when I was in first grade at Cheltenham Elementary, a DPS school a little west of the old Mile High Stadium, each kid had a chance to make two copies of a bound book, one to take home, and one for the library, where other kids could check it out and read it inside the mouth of our school mascot, a blue whale made of plaster named Chumley, who smelled like pee. To see another kid braving the stench to read your book inside Chumley: that was the height of first grade literary fame.

Since I was a kid, I have been coming to the Tattered Cover, the world's best place to read a book when a plaster whale is not available. The Cherry Creek store, which opened when I was ten, had three floors packed with books, and somehow felt cozy and imposing at the same time. Wandering around half lost, in awe of all the books, the shelves looming over me, gave me the idea that books and the ideas in them are important. I still believe that.

I used to always enter the kids' writing competitions that the Tattered Cover sponsored. I never won, which is hard to do, because they awarded dozens of prizes for each contest. I tried and tried. The story I remember best was the last one I entered before I aged out of the competition, in a contest for the scariest Halloween story.

In school, we'd been dissecting frogs in my biology class, and the horrifying part to me was that the frogs were still alive—just knocked out— when we cut into them, because our teacher wanted us to see how their circulatory systems worked. I decided the scariest possible thing that could happen would be for the frog to wake up during this procedure and see me there, operating on him. I wrote my story from the perspective of the frog. I was pretty proud of it and I thought, this time I'm going to do it. This is the story that's going to take me all the way to an honorable mention. Of course, when the list of winners was announced, my name wasn't on it.

But I kept writing. Decades later, seeing The Ringer on the shelves at the Tattered Cover feels even better than an honorable mention. It's an honor.

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