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New Novel Explores Friendship, Character And The '60s In Upstate New York

Mark Slouka

When it comes to the late 1960s, most Americans recall the version that was written about in the history books – the period of immense social change, the turmoil of political assassinations, the election of Richard Nixon and the legacy of Woodstock.

But the 1968 and ‘69 in which Mark Slouka’s latest novel is based is only a distant cousin of what people think of today. Slouka’s book, Brewster, is set in a small city in Upstate New York where 1968 still feels a lot like 1965.

"I wanted to write about the '60s and have the '60s happening around [the characters], but it's as though they're hearing something happening at a great distance and they're just picking up bits and pieces of it," Klouka says.

The novel tells of the unlikely friendship between high school track star Jon Mosher and the school rebel, Ray Cappicciano, and the difficult home circumstances they both inhabit.

"I was interested in what I think of as decency under pressure," author Mark Klouka says. "These are both decent kids at bottom and they're under ungodly pressure which is not of their own making, that they don't deserve. But somehow their friendship, for a time at least, is able to provide some sort of sanctuary for each of them."

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.