Romance & Art: Author to launch debut novel in Brooklyn

A gorgeous literary debut about second chances, “The Rest of Us: A Novel” (Simon & Schuster; Hardcover; July 2, 2013) by Jessica Lott is an unconventional love story that upends society's assumptions about May/December romances, while simultaneously offering a fascinating look at the not-often explored subculture of New York City's art world. Already receiving high praise, Lott will appear in Brooklyn on July 9 to celebrate the book’s launch at BookCourt in Cobble Hill. 

“I knew he was someone I wanted to be around,” recalls Terry, of the man she met at an artist lecture at the tender age of nineteen. “If I hadn’t been in the grips of some sort of magical thinking, I would have recognized that he was in his forties, nearing the height of his career, and a professor.” Despite the immediate obstacles of the attraction, the magnetism Terry felt the first time she met Rudolf Rhinehart was undeniable, and before long, she found herself falling madly and destructively in love with the famous poet and professor, and deep into a relationship from which she's never fully recovered.

Fifteen years later, Terry's single, still living in the New York City walk-up she moved into after graduation, and languishing as a photographer's assistant, having long-abandoned her quest to become a well-respected photographer. After accidently stumbling upon Rhinehart's obituary online, listing his many accomplishments, she finds herself taking stock of the ways her life has not lived up to her youthful expectations—and disproportionately distraught at the thought that she'll never see her first love again. Imagine her surprise when, a few weeks later, she bumps into Rhinehart — very much alive — Christmas shopping for his wife.

This accidental reconnection ignites the intense and beautiful friendship Terry and Rhinehart shared long ago, and forces Terry to finally confront the consequences of her feelings for Rhinehart and her resurging desire to pursue her artistic aspirations. As Terry begins to come back to life as an artist and woman, she faces questions that haunt us all: Why do certain people come into our lives and have such an indelible effect on us? How and why do we become stuck in our lives, and how do we grow? And most importantly, is love really always the answer? 

In addition to telling a magnificent love story, one that's also a love letter to NYC and the struggles of its artists, “The Rest of Us” is full of compelling subplots and memorable secondary characters. Early in the novel, we are introduced to Hallie, a true friend who cautiously supports Terry’s rekindled relationship with Rhinehart, while she, herself, struggles with the unrelenting feeling that her husband is being unfaithful. Her obsession with proving his infidelity leads to a dinner party that is pure black comedy. And at another dinner party, we meet Laura, first introduced as Rhinehart’s bitter art-dealing wife, who later becomes Terry’s mentor and confidante, unaware that her new friend has reprised her role as her estranged husband’s muse.

For fans of Elissa Schappell, Francine Prose, and Kate Christiansen, “The Rest of Us” is a heartrending love story to be enjoyed by those looking for a new voice in literary fiction.

* * *

The July 9 event will begin at 7 p.m. BookCourt is located at 163 Court St. in Cobble Hill.

* * *

Jessica Lott is a New York City–based writer and author of Osin, which won Low Fidelity Press’ Novella Award. She has a M.A. in Creative Writing from Boston University and a M.A. in English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis. She is an arts writer and editor for galleries, museums, and art publications. Her essays and art reviews have appeared in the New York Times, frieze, and Art21. This is her first novel.

Image courtesy of Simon & Schuster