Afraid of Goosequills

The Wit & Wisdom of Neil Hummasti

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Forty Ways to Square a Circle

Forty Ways to Square a Circle

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Download Excerpt from Chapter 4


Forty Ways to Square a Circle

A Novel by Neil Hummasti

The year is 1996 and the coastal high school where Casey Merriman teaches English is about to go technology-mad and scrap the humanities. On the home front, Merriman is responsible for the care of an elderly aunt who battles a growing dementia. The two competing derangements will plunge Merriman into turbulent descent straight out of Dante and propel him toward a bizarre but redemptive climax.

In 2011, Astoria resident Neil Hummasti died from cancer. He left behind over half a million words of unpublished writing, perhaps the greatest trove of its kind in Oregon literary history. Svenson Pioneer Press presents phase one of publishing Neil's writing, which includes Forty Ways to Square a Circle.

ISBN: 978-1-7322851-0-1


Excerpt from Query Letter

Excerpt from a query letter Neil Hummasti sent to a literary agent in an unsuccessful attempt at finding representation for Forty Ways to Square a Circle:

I have completed a 95,000 word novel called Forty Ways to Square a Circle. Employing both pathos and humor, the novel recounts the grand crisis of Casey Merriman’s life. The year is 1996, and the school where Merriman labors is about to go technology-mad. On the home front, Merriman is responsible for the care of an elderly aunt who battles a growing dementia. The two competing derangements will plunge him into turbulent descent. Conflicts between old and new, rational and irrational, propel the hero toward a bizarre but redemptive climax.

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Neil Hummasti’s Notes for
Forty Ways to Square a Circle

GENRE

Since this story contains comic touches, I had best begin with a caveat. The comedy in this book is not of the kind you have seen from me in the past. While you are reading this book, temporarily banish I See London, I See France... from your mind. Expect subtler varieties of humor. I regard this work as serious and literary. A bit of humor can enhance the development of any story; but I would caution you against anticipating a purely comic novel.

  1. Elements of comedy in this novel are intended to serve two primary functions:
    1. In the school plot, comedy is employed to satirize educational priorities.
    2. In the home plot, laughing-to-keep-from-crying may sometimes be necessary.
  2. Let me suggest (without pretending too much) that my story may be cut from the Dickensian mold—with just a dash more stream of consciousness. Like a Dickens’ novel, my book offers a bit of humor, a bit of tragedy, a bit of social criticism; and it features a protagonist who ends with more hope than he could reasonably have expected.

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