Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Somerville Poet Cornered by Two Novelist Cops

Somerville Poet Cornered by Two Novelist Cops
By Doug Holder

  Yes. I was cornered by two cops. One was Kevin F. Branley of the Cambridge Special Investigation Unit, and the other  Bill Chipman, from the Harvard University police. What was my crime you ask? Have the skeletons jumped out my closet? No. I met both men of the law at the Bloc 11 Café on Bow St. Union Square, Somerville, where they cornered me for an interrogation at my usual window seat. However in this case the interrogation…I mean interview,  was conducted by yours truly.

  Bill Chipman, the Ivy league cop lives on the border of Somerville and Medford. He said “ I sleep in Somerville.”  Chipman has written a novel Sucker's Dance, a crime story about an insurance scam and murder, and is currently working on another book: Last Seen in the Caribbean.

  Kevin Branley is a native of Medford, Mass and the child of Irish immigrants. He told me:" I grew up in a large Irish family. At 17, you were out of the house and on your own." His novel  Mourning Twilight deals with a disgruntled spirit that wreaks horror through the tunnel system of a psychiatric hospital, modeled after the old Metropolitan State in Waltham. Branley, like yours truly, worked on the locked wards, while earning undergraduate and graduate degrees from Northeastern University and U Mass Lowell respectively.

  Although both men are not graduates of tony MFA mills, they have had real life experienec that most graduates of the said institutions don't have. Both men have taken courses in Creative Writing however.  Branley , at UMASS Boston with Pancho Savory, while Chipman has studied at the Harvard Extension School.

  Chipman's protagonist in his novel Sucker Punch  is Cole Pierce. He told me his mother once considered naming him Cole or Pierce, thus the name. Pierce is persistent and like all of us flawed. Chipman told me: " We don't start out evil, it sort of creeps up on you one step at a time." Chipman's Pierce starts out as an idealistic cop, but he gets into a car accident, gets addicted to pills, and goes down hill. But as Chipman said: " We all struggle with good and evil--it is the human condition."

  Branley's main character in Mourning Twilight is named Tommy Nevefka. The novel takes place in Medord, Mass. I asked Branley how he got the name. He smiled; " In Medford it is almost like you are either Italian or Irish. Thus Tommy Nevefka." So an Irish first name and Italian last name is in order. And given that Branley is Irish we know why Tommy comes first. Branley's character struggles with the duality of good and evil. And Branley like Chipman acknowledges the fact that each dwells in the other.

 Both men are busy with their professional careers. Chipman,  who holds an advanced degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School, has to deal with the recent rapes that have taken place on the Harvard campus, and Branley  has to deal with illegal drug trade in the Central Square section of Cambridge,  Mass. and other areas. But beware, like any writers worth their salt, they use fodder from all walks of their lives. And as it was once said on  a famous crime TV Show:

"There are a million stories in the Naked City...." And in this case my friends you could be in one of them.

**** Both Branley and Chipman will read from their work at The Book Shop at Ball Square in Somerville...Sept 22..check website for details.



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