Monica Wood, author of the sensational memoir, When We Were the Kenendys, will be coming to Devaney, Doak & Garrett 6:30 p.m. on April 7 to read from her new novel, The One-in-a-Million Boy. The book explores an unusual boy’s character. Never named and recently deceased, the boy’s absentee father finds himself drawn to pick up his son’s connection with a 104-year-old woman, Ona Vitkus.
The One-in-a-Million Boy will be released nationally on April 5. Equaling a book as strong and satisfying as When We Were the Kennedys presented its author with a significant challenge. And how has she fared with her new novel in that regard? Sure it has an intriguing premise in its, to help us get closer to answering our question, Monica has stepped up to answer a few questions here.
Kenny: Retrospection is a powerful presence in the book. For example the story of the boy, revealed retrospectively, is both a story in its own right and a fulcrum for transformation in the characters who experience the unfolding of that story. Did you intend for the reader to share in that dynamic of transformation?
Monica: The boy’s father, Quinn, gets to know his child in retrospect, and that is also true for the reader. I wanted the reader’s experience to echo Quinn’s experience. Quinn’s insights/revelations/surprises become the reader’s as well.
Kenny: How long have you known your 104-year-old protagonist Ona Vitkus? She is quite an acquaintance!
Monica: I’ve always, always been partial to old ladies. My first job out of my fancy college was as a nurses’ aide in an old folks home where I met some unforgettable people. And one of the best friends I’ve ever had died at age 98. I didn’t even meet her until she was 87.
Kenny: One character in the book I really enjoyed was The Guinness Book of World Records. If anything about One-In A-Million Boy could make The Guinness Book of World Records what would it be?
Monica: The Guinness research was so enjoyable, and reinforced my opinion of the human species as equal parts goofball and striver. I wouldn’t mind getting the record for most copies ever sold at DDG Booksellers in Farmington, Maine.
Kenny: I loved that the boy’s name was never revealed. It heightened the effect of acquiring an understanding of him had on the other characters. Was that something in place from the beginning or did you remove a given name later on?
Monica: I did try to name him several times, but nothing worked. Then I recognized that because he is no longer of the world, he exists in a kind of nameless place. To name him was to tether him to the living world in a way that felt wrong. He does actually have a name, but only I, my husband, and my oldest sister know it. She named him
Kenny: Do you have a favorite passage in the book?
Monica: I just opened the book to a random page and found this: “I was a dunderhead who mistook my own delight for love.” That’s not bad.
Kenny: Thanks so much Monica, we can’t wait for your appearance in Farmington!