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People Top 5
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- May 23, 1977
- Vol. 7
- No. 20
Garrett Epps, 27, wrote his first novel in a Roanoke, Va. shack with no stove or indoor toilet. Chickens next door woke him at 6:30 every morning and he would stare at the ceiling and think, "If I don't finish my book, I'll be living like this the rest of my life." With that motivation, Epps, a former editor of the Harvard Crimson, has now published The Shad Treatment, which is about Southern politics. The novel was chosen as an alternate by the Book-of-the-Month Club. Epps, the son of a Richmond attorney, worked on two local newspapers before quitting to spend two and a half years on his book. "As a reporter I saw how blacks, the poor and outsiders were not given their full democratic rights," says Epps. "In my development of 'Mac' [the main character], I wanted to show how painful it is to be on the wrong side of a very powerful and intolerant social structure." Though some Richmond citizens think they recognize the novel's characters, Epps says, "Southern people accept what you do and don't take it personally. They simply say, 'Well, that's ole Garrett, and that's his way.' "
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