"I didn't map anything; it was iterative," he says. "I enjoyed taking each character's perspective and finding intersections with the other characters... When I laughed at my own mischief, I knew I had something."
To Pope, the appeal of Dowd's book is in the mood and time frame he's re-created. Fellow Connecticut novelist Rand Richards Cooper has praised The Fourth of July, saying it reminded him of "such gin-soaked comic classics as A Confederacy of Dunces and The Ginger Man."
"It's hard to write a funny book," said Pope. "It's easy to write sad and tragic but the list of really funny books is pretty short. Humor is hard to sustain over 200 pages."
Dowd's previous publications are technical articles and books, one on supercomputing and another on computer networks, which within their limited circle are highly respected.
"The connection with Roundabout was happenstance," said Dowd. "Dan and his students established the press, and then set out looking for manuscripts. I had a work of fiction hanging around, partially complete and with no path to publication. They liked it. We got together."
Roundabout's future books will include a collection of stories by a writer from Uruguay and a novel by Jim Sidel, whom Pope met in Iowa.
"Small presses seem designed to fail, always printing only a few books," said Pope, whose press run for The Fourth of July is 2,000 copies. "But we have been sending them out and I think if enough people see the book, good things will happen."
The Fourth of July
by Kevin Dowd, Roundabout Press, 149 pages, $9.95.
A party to celebrate the book will be held April 26th, starting at 6:30 PM
At the Niantic Bay Yacht Club, 8 Shore Road, Niantic
There will be dinner by Slippershell, a signed copy of the book, a reading, and a fire on the beach, weather permitting
$25 pp, BYOB. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 24th. Seating is limited.
Niantic Bay Yacht Club (courtesy Kevin Dowd)