(reviewed by Kam Aures JUL 3, 2004)
“The painting knocked her over with its violence. She could swear it had reached out and punched her. She recovered her breath and smiled. This was something else. Over the span of five by five feet, several media - acrylic, metal, clay, bits of...something merged and separated. In the center of the work, the paint lay flat against the surface, but at the edges it bowed out by several tenths of an inch. Something about it reminded her of an alien landscape. A post-apocalyptic alien landscape: Parts of it were obliterated, and dips and craters fell where the canvas had apparently been beaten up and patched back together. It looked like a vast mistake that someone had trashed and then rescued. And yet the rage of color - rusts and browns and creams and a bit of red, all within an earthy palette - was no accident. It was unsettling.
It was a mess. But a riveting one.”
Trisha Portman is employed at the Galina Woodworth Gallery as an assistant registrar. The painting she is looking at arrived specifically addressed to her with a return address of G. Dominguez in Brooklyn. Her search to find out the identity of the mysterious artist takes her on a trip down memory lane, back to her college days in Philadelphia. She discovers that the artist is James Morales, the former college roommate of her ex-boyfriend Mitch. In the past Trisha and James’ relationship was rocky and the years since apparently did nothing to change that fact. As they get reacquainted again they find that they are similar in more ways than they ever have imagined and that in each other they have a source of strength and guidance that never seemed possible.
The author Stephanie Williams has late-stage breast cancer and in June 2002 an old college friend, Adam Fawer, encouraged her to make her dream of writing a novel reality. She made a pact with him to do so if he would do so also. Enter Sandman is the result of Stephanie’s end of the deal. The publishing company, McWitty Press, rushed to get this book into print so that Williams would be able to hold a copy in her hands before her health deteriorated. (Fawer's book Improbable will be published by William Morrow in February 2005.)
When I first read the information from the publisher and the author that accompanied the book I found myself thinking that it would be interesting if the author had written a story about her own life. As I read the book I found that in a sense she HAD written a book about her life. There are so many similarities between this book and the author’s biography, it is obvious that she drew upon her many life experiences to create this novel. One would expect that given the circumstances, drawing off of her personal life experiences would lead to a dark, sad novel. While there are some tragic parts in the novel there is also a lot of humor as well. Williams has created a perfect balance of emotions to make this book a success.
The only negative thing that I can say about this book is that ever since I finished it I have James' favorite Metallica song “Enter Sandman” stuck in my head! “Eeeeee-exit light! Eeeeennn-ter niiiiight! Taaaaaake my hand! We’re off to never-neverland!” Regardless of the annoyance of this refrain playing over and over in my mind, I highly recommend reading Williams’ novel. The characters in this novel and their experiences are so unique that the title song is not the only thing in the book that is to be unforgettable.
- Amazon readers rating: from 8 reviews
Read a chapter excerpt from Enter Sandman at MostlyFiction.com
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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- target="_blank"0975561804')">Enter Sandman (June 2004)
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- The official website for Stephanie Williams
- MSNBC on Stephanie Williams and Combating Cancer
- McWitty Press on Enter Sandman
- Kirkus Review of Enter Sandman
- New York Post on Enter Sandman
- Boston.com review of Enter Sandman
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About the Author:
Stephanie Williams was a journalist whose work was published in more than a dozen major magazines, including New York, Men’s Health and Glamour. She was a former writer at Self and TV Guide, senior writer at SmartMoney, and contributing editor at Teen People. In 2002, the National Headliner Awards named her runner up for Magazine Feature Writing for her narratives in SmartMoney. A native of Texas, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and made her home in Brooklyn with her dog, Gus .
Stephanie Williams was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer two months after turning 30. Determined to fulfill her dream of writing a novel, she did live long enough to see her novel published. She died during the summer of 2004.