It’s not too late for Mathew Larsen to make it in the big leagues.
Mathew grew up in a small town in Ohio in the 1950s, a loner with a bossy older sister, sweet twin sisters who ignore him, and a loving younger brother who leaves too early.
When he gets to grad school in Chapel Hill in the 1960s, Mathew knows he’s got the talent to conquer the halls of academia. But, as often happens, life gets busy.
There’s a lot that can distract a person like Mathew from finishing his thesis for a Ph.D. in economics.
His long-time partner Judith is a well-respected math professor, but has “emotional issues.”
As the sixties slip into the seventies, their “overly precocious” daughter Linda all too quickly turns into a teenager.
It’s not easy to balance the loving and feeding of his eclectic family with his commitment to social justice, the need to make a living, and the temptations that can pop up on a university campus.
Perhaps Mathew would be content to spend the rest of his professional life teaching the same five courses a semester at a community college.
But it might be nicer to move out of his grad school apartment into a house for his family with a yard and a fence and a cat and a dog, and to send his daughter off in style on her own search for social justice.
The challenges his sisters presented in his early years, he realizes, might now be giving him strength.
One day Mathew and Linda set out on the road to the mountains of Damascus, North Carolina to support some Black hospital workers seeking to unionize, facing opposition from a racist management.
Mathew has a lot to do to get to the mountaintop, and to finish his Ph.D. thesis. David Culp’s The Book of Mathew L. tells the tale of that journey.
Targeted Age Group:: 18 and over
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I wanted to draw on my own experiences at schools in Ohio and North Carolina to tell a story of a young man who needs to achieve some maturity to achieve his academic and professional goals, and make his mark. Family can be a challenge, as well as a source of strength. And I wanted to show a character who believes seeking social justice is just as useful to leading a rewarding life as material success.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I elaborated on some people I knew in my academic career who persevered in pursuing their goals. Some characters are projections of people I knew in the 1960s and 1970s who explored their society and worked hard in their own ways to make it better. And I wanted to celebrate some people from humble backgrounds who flourished in a more modern, sophisticated culture.
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