Windfall Nights tells a story of coming of age and redemption. Following a devastating car accident, Julian returns to college a semester behind. Now a fifth-year senior, he struggles to make ends meet. To help finance his final semester, he applies for a job as a night bellman at a second-rate hotel. There he meets a cast of interesting characters and Thomas, the man who would change Julian's life forever. Thomas is the hotel handyman, and Julian soon learns that a dark secret haunts his new friend. Thomas, once a college football star, dropped out of sight at the height of his sports career. There are mutterings of academic fraud and trouble with women, but Thomas conceals his past. Bonding over shared vulnerabilities, the two young men become close friends. While their friendship grows, Julian begins to understand Thomas's remarkable gifts as well as the terrible demons he carries. The peace of his world is broken as Julian approaches his college graduation. Although Julian and Thomas move apart, they eventually meet again on the streets of Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, Julian pursues his career as a journalist and Thomas follows his destiny in a way that Julian will need a lifetime to understand.
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William Claypool attended the University of Notre Dame and has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pennsylvania. He currently lives outside of Philadelphia with his wife. During segments of his life, he was a football player, a naval medical officer, and a night bellman.Review:
"Sometimes one comes across a novel based on anunlikely friendship..... Suchis the story of Julian and Thomas in Windfall Nights by William Claypool....The novel opens with Julian, and his wife Anna, enroute to Vietnam, where'she's struck by nostalgia for his friend Thomas. The story then flashes back toJulian's college years.... forced to work part time at the Lafayette Hotel as anight bellman, looking to earn some extra cash....He forges an unlikelyfriendship with Thomas, the hotel handyman...This novel is highlyrecommended for readers of short stories." --San Francisco Book Review
"In this debut novel, aman muses upon his bellhop job during college, when he first met troubledThomas... ....Debut novelist Claypool--who listsamong his credits being a football player, naval medical officer, and nightbellman--skillfully draws from his experiences to produce a powerful narrativedominated by the ghost of Thomas, an enigmatic yet charismatic man. Claypool'ssketches of various secondary characters--are striking, worthy of spinoffstories.
Elegiac, evocative tale of intersecting lives in a richdebut." --Kirkus Reviews
"For a touching story of two people trying to make their wayin the world, look no further than Windfall Nights. Through the fictionalaccounts of the two key characters, Thomas and Julian, we are reminded that,regardless of who we are or where we go in our lives, everyone makes his/hermark on the world, even as the world unfolds around us in seemingly randomfashion." --Manhattan Book Review- 4 of 5 stars
Windfall Nights by William Claypool is a book in the fiction section, set for most part in the 1960's. It follows the story of two men, Thomas and Julian, as they overcome their misery and follow their separate paths in life only to meet again. A terrible motor accident forces Julian to miss college and recuperate. Now a semester behind, Julian returns to finish college, as he'd promised his dying mother that he would complete his education. He takes up a job at Hotel Lafayette as a night bellman to cover his expenses. There he meets and befriends Thomas, the hotel handyman, a college dropout, whose many talents include being an exceptional pianist. Like Julian, Thomas also lost his father a few years back and is still coping with the depression.
Thomas is a mystery to Julian in many ways.... A terrible incident on the last day of Julian's job at the hotel forces Thomas to disappear. Years later, Julian, a journalist, meets Thomas in the city of Saigon at the height of the Vietnam War, where the latter is serving in the army. Even after so many years, Julian is still as surprised by Thomas as before, and accepts that it will probably take a lifetime to understand Thomas.
The story is written in first person, from Julian's point of view..... reminiscing about his past, with all his friends drafted to serve in the war and his father remarrying after his wife's sad demise, Julian feels deserted by both family and friends. This is where the Lafayette comes to the rescue, bringing a whole circus of interesting people for Julian to meet. This is also where the fun starts for the readers, because every single character had something to contribute to the story. From the witty and philosophical circle of retired professors to the ever-practical Danielle (Thomas' girlfriend), to affectionate Margery (Thomas' mother), the reader journeys with Julian to discover a new meaning to life.
Another wonderful aspect of this book is its superb writing. The smooth flow of the story, brilliant vocabulary, and descriptive narration make up the author's excellent writing style. Combined with the delightful characterization mentioned above, the novel envelops the readers. Coming to the plot, it's not so much about the central storyline but the loosely connected events in the plot, which have their own story and lesson to share. Though the story does basically revolve around Thomas, how he overcomes his sorrow, how he redeems himself, how he hopes to find some peace in his life; there is something for every character here. Like Thomas said, "Well my happy ending hasn't been written yet. I'm still looking for it." To which Julian replied, "Aren't we all?"
All the three elements: writing, characterization and plot, align perfectly to deliver an engaging and thought-provoking story to the readers. There is so much more to write about and many pearls of wisdom from the story that I want to share, but I'll restrict myself to giving a 4 out of 4 stars to this one. Its definitely worth a read.
Reviewed by OnlineBookClub.org
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Book Description iUniverse, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P111462004709
Book Description iUniverse, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M1462004709