The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked - a book that left its mark). Each entry in the series presents a no-holds-barred personal narrative detailing how a particular novel influenced an author on their journey to becoming a writer, as well as the myriad directions where that journey has taken them.
In the first book in the series, critically acclaimed author and series editor Kirby Gann takes on John Knowles' classic about the tragic friendship between two boys at a boarding school.
Set at a New England boarding school for boys during World War II, A Separate Peace is considered by many to be the quintessential coming-of-age novel. It tells the story of Gene, an introverted intellectual, and his friendship with Phineas, a handsome, charming athlete, over the course of one summer. Gann juxtaposes the novel’s tragic take on lost adolescent innocence with his own growing emotional and artistic awareness as a boy growing up in Kentucky in the 1970s and 1980s, and in the process, creates an indelible work that celebrates the timelessness of John Knowles’ classic novel.
Described in the blogosphere as one of the nation's most underrated writers, Kirby Gann is the author of the novel Ghosting (2012), which was included in the "Best of Year" lists from Publishers Weekly and Shelf Awareness and a finalist for the Kentucky Book of the Year. He has published two other novels, The Barbarian Parade (2002), and Our Napoleon in Rags (2005), and co-edited (with poet Kristin Herbert) the anthology A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play, which was a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (Anthologies). His work has appeared most recently in The Louisville Review, The Oxford American, and The Southeast Review, and stories are forthcoming in 2016 in Ploughshares and Post Road. Gann is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship and two Professional Assistance Awards from the Kentucky Arts Council. After eighteen years as Managing Editor at Sarabande Books, he now pursues freelance projects in book design, typesetting, editing, and production management. He teaches in the brief-residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University.
Kirkby Gann Tittle (his given name) is a musician and songwriter. Tracks from earlier incarnations (Hipmonk, Jakeleg) are available around this site somewhere.
Both Kirby Gann and Kirkby Tittle live in Goshen, Kentucky, with wife Stephanie, and dogs.
"Unfolding with unflinching clarity and moral inevitability, this is a tale of love and loyalty, family and duty, naïveté and duplicity, played out on an amoral landscape of drugs and violence.... Hillbilly noir as literary fiction of the first order."
"In Ghosting, Kirby Gann has created an utterly compelling ode to the fearsome and contradictory desires of his unforgettable characters. Writing in brilliantly sustained licks of prose, Gann gives us flesh-and-blood human beings who cannot escape what they cannot help wanting. Their fate is true, the ride beautiful and dark."
“Combining grit and poetry, deep feeling and an unsentimental gaze, Kirby Gann has written a novel as intimate as the stifling locale where it's set and as expansive as the minds and voices of the people ensnared there. Ghosting is dark, funny, unexpected, and populated with characters we immediately recognize even as they avoid cliché.”
“I finished your novel last night and, damn, my friend, you nailed it. . . . Mister Greuel! What a creation. I had a hard time with this because the book is much, much more than can be described in one or two sentences. But here's what I've got: ‘With a plot as full of twists and turns as an ancient Greek tragedy, Kirby Gann's Ghosting is one of the most beautifully worded and superbly crafted novels about the fateful consequences of being caught up in the criminal life that I have ever read.’ And I’m speaking truth.”
"What a richly imagined world Kirby Gann has wrought in Ghosting. A frightful world of drug running and addiction, but beneath that a story of family and the desire for safety and peace. This novel is full of grit and the yearnings of the human heart. Its carefully drawn characters latched onto me and wouldn't let me go."
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Gann contributed a short essay on how to clarify your own ideas for narrative in the new anthology Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today's Best Writers and Teachers edited by Sherry Ellis, published by Tarcher.
Our Napoleon in Rags is a nominee for the Kentucky Award in Literature.
Frontiers Magazine, in Los Angeles, named Our Napoleon in Rags one of the Top 5 Novels published in 2005.
Also, at the literary blog Syntax of Things, they've posted an excellent list of what they're calling "underrated writers" — Kirby Gann is on the list, along with many other writers worthy of attention. Check out the site here: Syntax of Things.
Kirby Gann in conversation with novelist John Burnham Schwartz (Reservation Road,The Commoner on the writing process at The Writer's Block Fesitval October 15, 2011