Friday, September 11, 2015

Newspaper launches a serialized novel

On Tuesday, Sept. 8, the Daily Post in Palo Alto began publishing “Palo Alto Odyssey,” a serialized novel about life in present-day Palo Alto, written by John Angell Grant.

The Bay Area newspapers have printed serialized novels before. The San Francisco Chronicle published Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City," a series that began in 1978.

“Palo Alto Odyssey” focuses on Miranda Jones, a woman who grew up in Palo Alto, attending local public schools, and later Stanford as an undergraduate.

After obtaining her law degree in New York, Miranda stayed in New York for a law career. Now she is returning to Palo Alto, perhaps to retire there, perhaps to sell her parents’ bungalow home in the Southgate part of town. Miranda is surprised at the changes she finds in Palo Alto from her childhood. It is no longer the sleepy university town she grew up in. Millionaire 20-somethings inhabit the cafes, creating new startups, as other wannabe entrepreneurs watch with envy. Housing prices have skyrocketed. New residents in the town, with more money, push out the earlier population. Families struggle.

Miranda’s old friend from high school is now a schizophrenic panhandler on University Avenue. Parents and teachers worry about the pressure on children and Palo Alto’s teen suicide epidemic. Women and men, both, struggle with conflicts between career and marriage.

“Palo Alto Odyssey” will run six times a week in the Daily Post through Oct. 5, in short chapters of about 500 words each. This is the right length, says Daily Post Editor and Publisher Dave Price, “for a reader to enjoy over a cup of coffee.”

Price says that the serialization gives the Daily Post another dimension. One dimension is simply reporting the news and the second is the Opinion page, where local issues are debated. This creates a third level where local trends and happenings can be brought to life through the serial.

The novel’s creator, John Angell Grant, is a longtime journalist and the author of 12 produced stage plays. Grant is also the theater critic for the Daily Post. Back episodes of “Palo Alto Odyssey” will be downloadable daily at the author’s website at johnangellgrant.com.  

Full disclosure: Price is the Press Club's secretary and webmaster.

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