I spent a few years, on and off, during the late 1990s and early 2000s working on a novel called Eponymous, which saw the light of day in a print edition in 2001. I got some nice reviews on it, sold a decent number of copies, made a few bucks off the project (though not enough to cover the time I spent producing it, even at minimum wage) and then decided that I never wanted to write another novel again. Eponymous was supposed to be in print for three years, but it still shows up in new and used editions in a variety of outlets, and I still get little royalty checks every six months or so. I don’t really think about much anymore, except to be gracious when strangers write me to say that they enjoyed it.
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to learn today that Eponymous has been converted by the publisher into a digital edition, and can now be downloaded and read on both Kindle and Nook, and possibly on other e-readers as well, though I have no clue what those might be. I looked at the sample on my Kindle, and it appears that the formatting of some of the poems and lyrics and other pieces contained in the original print edition is a bit cock-eyed, alas. While new copies of the print edition went for about $20, the eBook edition is available for around four bucks, or less. As are used copies of the print edition, which seem surprisingly available. So if you have been, or are, curious about this lost classic (?), you can now read my first and (probably) last novel for less than you’d spend on a foofy whipped drink at a coffee shop. I would personally recommend a used paperback edition, just to avoid the messed-up formatting.
Here’s a brief write-up on Eponymous that ran in the Albany daily newspaper back in 2002, just to demonstrate that you don’t actually have to know me to like the book:
GOOD REASON TO ROOT FOR EPONYMOUS
Dark, well-crafted satire of band life is set in the Capital Region.
By Lisa Stevens
Collie Hay is a washed-up musician who is now a music critic in J. Eric Smith’s fast-paced novel, Eponymous.
Collie, full of self-hate and loathing, is writing a “self-hurt book” to try and alleviate the guilt that consumes him following a horrible accident involving his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Kris Dennison, a bassoonist and a school teacher. Cause of the accident? “Toxic stupidity,” Collie explains.
The Capital Region is the backdrop of this dark satire, which Smith deftly crafts. The author’s in-depth knowledge of band life and his talent for rich character development makes for great reading. You’ll find yourself cheering for Collie’s smart-mouth, smart-aleck attitude and wanting to scream “grow up” all in the same sentence.
Eponymous, in its darkness, is also a laugh-out-loud page turner. We can only hope Smith is at work on his next book.