A writer's angst

This semester, another acclaimed writer visited Arizona Western College. In March, Arizona author Justin St. Germain gave a reading, followed by a question-and-answer session.

One of life's hardest hurdles is recovering from a tragedy. In his book Son of a Gun, the writer describes how he redefined his world, forever changed by the murder of his mother.

St. Germain grew up in Tombstone, Ariz., a dusty Old West town with a history of tragedy and betrayal. He writes of the influence Tombstone had on his life and how it reflects in his personal tragedy. After his father left the family when St. Germain was young, the boy adopted the local hero Wyatt Earp as his role model.

St. Germain's writing style is evocative of the countryside around Tombstone. Filled with dark, forbidding thunderclouds and hot dry winds, his prose carries the threat of storms and tears.

The reader senses an impending tragedy from the first pages of the book as St. Germain chronicles the childhood struggles that carried into the dark undercurrents of his teenage years and on into college life, where the inconceivable tragedy of his mother's murder changed his life irrevocably.

Son of a Gun is a classic tragedy. St. Germain becomes the heroic figure who suffers for his beloved mother's weakness for choosing unsuitable and dangerous husbands and who finding himself in circumstances over which he has no control.

St. Germain says he did not want to write the book about murder. Instead, he wrote as a cathartic in order to process personal tragedy into something he could understand and come to terms with.

His decision to publish the book was driven by his wanting to share something meaningful with others. Sharing his tragedy has created an awareness of how many other people live with tragedy and with the process of recovering themselves in the aftermath. He wanted to give his readers the gift of a gripping narration that would entertain and enlighten.

St. Germain, a UofA graduate and an English teacher in Arizona, spoke of encouraging students to become engaged in the process for the experience itself. St. Germain also spoke about the publication process and how his relationship to a publisher affected his writing and goals. He encourages people to write both as a way of discovering themselves and as a process of sharing their experiences with others.

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