The Essence of Nathan Biddle
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Protagonist Kit Biddle is a rising prep school senior who finds himself tangled in a web of spiritual quandaries and intellectual absurdities. Kit's angst is compounded by a unique psychological burden he is forced to carry: his intelligent but unstable Uncle Nat has committed an unspeakable act on what, according to the Uncle's deranged account, were direct orders from God. The tragedy haunting his family follows Kit like a dark and foreboding cloud, exacerbating his already compulsive struggle with existential questions about the meaning of his life. When the brilliant, perhaps phantasmic, Anna dismisses him, Kit quickly spirals into despair and self-destruction. But when his irrational decision to steal a maintenance truck and speed aimlessly down the highway ends in a horrific accident and months of both physical and emotional convalescence, Kit is forced to examine his perceptions of his life and his version of reality. In this exquisite bildungsroman, calamity leads to fresh perspectives and new perceptions: it focuses Kit's mind and forces him to confront the issues that plague him. Readers will empathize--and celebrate--as the darkness lifts and Kit comes to terms with the necessity of engagement with life's pain, pleasure . . . and absurdity. An intelligent, clever, and captivating tale, The Essence of Nathan Biddle soars in the spaces that exist between despair and hope, darkness and light, love and loss. Beautifully written, profoundly moving, and resplendent with characters destined to remain with you long after the last page is turned, The Essence of Nathan Biddle is unforgettable.
Greenleaf Book Group Press, 9781626348462, 440pp.
Publication Date: June 1, 2021
About the Author
Alabama native J. William Lewis is a former lawyer who lives in Shoal Creek, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama. Born in Chickasaw, Alabama, Lewis grew up in Mobile. He graduated from Spring Hill College (A.B., magna cum laude, English and Philosophy) where he was a member of Alpha Sigma Nu and recipient of the Merihl Award. While in college, Lewis served as editor-in-chief of the literary magazine The Motley. Lewis received his J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and served on the Editorial Board of the Virginia Law Review. After a clerkship for the Honorable Walter P. Gewin on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Lewis practiced law in Birmingham for over three and a half decades. Presently, Lewis serves as executive officer of his family's investment company, Seaman Capital, LLC, and related companies. He has been married to Lorraine Seaman Lewis for more than half a century. The Essence of Nathan Biddle is his debut novel.