Walk into Barnes & Noble these days and you’ll see in the New Fiction section a copy of Spin, a first novel by Robert Rave (’96).
Rave, whose second novel, Waxed, will be released next summer by St. Martin’s, will be in Chicago on Nov. 4 for a booksigning, and he’ll return to IWU on Thursday, Nov. 5 to talk about Spin and his experience getting that first novel published. He’ll visit Professor DeVore’s 1:10 p.m. Senior Writing Project class, but other English majors are welcome to attend (location: Stevenson 103). Afterwards, Rave will answer questions. Spin (St. Martin’s Press) is based on Rave’s experience working PR in New York City. A reviewer for Publisher’s Weekly noted, “With its inside views of a corrupt yet glamorous lifestyle and its witty tone, the book is sure to please fans of the sub-genre.”
If you linger over the acknowledgments page you’ll notice that Rave includes Professor Kathie O’Gorman among those who’ve helped him along the way.
“I have many great memories of Dr. O’Gorman’s classes at IWU,” Rave said. “It’s where I discovered my love of Samuel Beckett and the theater of the absurd. It’s where I trudged through Ulysses and made it to out alive—although just barely. I met my lifelong best friend, Jennifer Gill in Dr. O’Gorman’s class. Our fates were sealed as eternal friends when we both showed up wearing chocolate brown velour pants to British Literature. (Sad, but true).
“Synthetic fibers aside, Dr. O’Gorman’s class was where I began exploring the many layers of literature. Not long after, I examined subtext like I had never quite done before. In fact, I was often looking for the subtext when none existed. Yet one of the most valuable things that has stuck with me through today was repeatedly said by Dr. O’Gorman. It was just a simple phrase that always proceeded an important point she was about to make: ‘the notion of.’ ‘The notion of’ quickly became my catch phrase during my final two years of college especially when I tried to impress those who were, at the time, far beyond my intellectual reach. Jennifer and I would attempt to use it in everyday conversation. I would ask her to grab a bite to eat and she would respond, “Let’s explore the notion of dinner,” much to my chagrin. However, what started out as playful banter between two friends later evolved into something tangible. Whether I was simply reading for pleasure or researching ideas for a book I explored new ways of looking at the material and questioned the writer’s intent. I kept hearing Dr. O’Gorman’s voice in my head “the notion of.” So now, when I start a writing project I often think of challenging old notions or archetypes typically seen in books and I go against the grain.
“Many people were surprised I wrote a book, which some have dubbed “chick-lit,” with a male protagonist. However, I liked the idea of challenging readers of the genre to open themselves to something different not only because he’s a guy, but he’s also flawed and by the end of the novel he becomes someone completely different from who we met at the beginning. Dr. O’Gorman was the one who turned on the light switch for me. She assigned material that I can say with great certainity that I would have never picked up at a library or bookstore. I feel that I am not only more enlightened as a reader and author because of it, but as a human being. I can almost see the proverbial eye-rolling and hear the snickers from cynics from here. But for me, it’s all true. Simply because, with some prodding, I explored ‘the notion of.'”