We often joke with them and talk to them as equals or even as friends, but, occasionally, we students have to take a step back and realize that many of the professors here at Trinity are extraordinary people. Such is the case with Professor Andrew Porter of the English department, whose forays into literary fiction have already garnered critically rave reviews. His first book, a compilation of short stories published in 2008 entitled, The Theory of Light and Matter, led Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson to state that “Andrew Porter has the kind of voice one can accept as universal – honest and grave, with transparency as its adornment.”
Recently, I learned that Sept. 4 he will be releasing his first novel, In Between Days, and will be doing a reading and signing of his book at 7 p.m. on Sept. 13 in the Holt Center.
“Like my short stories,” Porter explained, “the novel grew out of an image.” I could see him constructing the image in his mind as he attempted to describe it. He said that he remembered going to downtown Houston and looking at the “tall mirrored futuristic buildings, a seemingly abandoned metropolis.” Porter admits that at first he wasn’t sure what would become of the story, but as it progressed and the characters’ depths increased, he realized that he wanted to turn it into a novel. He spent two years writing the book, and another year going through the process of getting it published. When asked if the transition from short story to novel was a difficult one, Porter said, “I was ready for a new challenge.”
The novel focuses on the Hardings, a Houstonian family trying to keep their lives together. When Chloe Harding gets expelled from college for unknown reasons, it sets off a chain reaction that will likely disrupt the Hardings’ already tenuous grip on familial stability. Houston Magazine has already voiced its approval of the book, calling it a “deftly paced social psychodrama,” while Powell’s Books calls it a “subtly drawn masterpiece.” Touching on relatable themes revolving around family and that fleeting notion we call home, In Between Days is likely to receive even more praise once it is released to the public.
I was fortunate enough to get a glimpse at Professor Porter’s personal copy, which was not long off the press. I cracked open the book, and the first three words, “SINCE THE DIVORCE,” already had me wanting to read more. It’s the same thing he teaches in his creative writing classes: start in the middle of the action in order to hook your readers right away.