South of Hannah
By David Norman
A Texas musician uncovers the secrets of a mysterious composer. A literary novel about heartache, jealousy, and jazz
Publication date: July 2018Buy
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Cole Howland can’t seem to hold it together. When he comes back from a tour up north with his struggling jazz trio, he finds out his girlfriend of six years is leaving him for another man. What’s worse, the new guy determined to take his place at the dinner table, aptly named T-Bone, has absolutely no taste in music.
In a city of carnivores and barbecue enthusiasts, T-Bone is a health nut and a narcissist to boot. The man has already proposed to Cole’s girlfriend Suzette and attempts to steal not only his love but his band. With his life and career further derailing, Cole tries to hold onto the one person who makes sense to him, an eight-year-old piano prodigy named Lily.
But the arrival of an attractive scholar from New York threatens to throw him off course. Hannah’s interests in jazz resemble Cole’s all too well, but Cole’s too lust-struck to notice her ulterior motives. Cole seeks refuge at his studio in the small Texas town where he teaches part-time, but he can’t stay away for long. Lily’s in danger, and she needs his help.
Cole takes her to piano lessons and fights to stay involved in her life at the expense of igniting T-Bone’s wrath. Then Cole learns from his brother that T-Bone might even be intent on killing him. Caught in a broken love triangle with his ex-girlfriend and the new woman he can’t take his eyes off, Cole becomes increasingly desperate to protect the only daughter he’s ever known.
South of Hannah is a literary novel about heartache, jealousy, and jazz. It’s a narrative that captures the rich brew of South Texas culture, with all the twang, spice, and heat you’d expect from the Alamo City. In compelling and accessible prose, South of Hannah takes you backstage for an insider’s view of the river lights, the nightclubs, and the dance halls. It’s a fascinating underground scene where trumpeters and pianists do battle, where the tensions like the whiskey runneth over, and you’ll be left stomping and swinging so hard you won’t want the show to end.
David Norman was born in San Antonio, Texas. With graduate degrees from New York University and Texas State University, he has taught literature, music, and writing for more than ten years. His stories and essays have appeared in American Literary Review, Image, Gulf Stream, Southern Humanities Review, Descant, Rio Grande Review, and many other publications. He received a Pushcart Prize nomination and was a finalist in competitions sponsored by Glimmer Train, the Santa Fe Writers Project, and Phoebe Magazine. His fiction also will appear in the anthology, Flash! Writing the Very Short Story, to be published in 2017 by W.W. Norton. David lives with his wife and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.
They’re blowing through the outskirts in his father’s car. The alignment is shot to hell and the steering wheel buzzes so bad, Cole Howland has to jam his kneecap under the shaft to keep the Buick from veering into a ditch. Lily sits cross-legged in the back seat and squirms on her booster, jostling for a better look at the cows. She’s a twig of a gal, nine come November, with short, pale legs and big owl-hollow eyes.
Beyond the windshield, the sky is a trout’s belly spackled with cirrus clouds. Billboards flash ads for cheap housing developments, car dealerships and gun shops, ads for retirement communities whose names boast of the very utopias their golf courses have helped eviscerate. Fairview. Tierra Linda. Alta Vista.
“Are we lost?” Lily says as they pass a browning field of piebald heifers.
“Of course not. This here’s the scenic route.” Cole scoffs at the honeycomb subdivisions, gated entrances with dancing, multicolored balloons. He’s driving her to the ravine where his favorite musician, hopefully her favorite musician, visited for a time. “Few months from now, there won’t be much country left.” The backroad takes them farther south. The new houses momentarily give way to more farmland. “Gotta enjoy it while we can.”
“What about the cows? Where will they go?”
“Somebody will take them, I’m sure.”
- 30th January 2017 Book Deal Under Way!
Happy to report that negotiations on the book contract with Impress Books are under way! Thank you, everyone, for pulling together to help get South of Hannah into print. As a token of my appreciation, here's a jazz composition I've been working on, something I just might play with the band at the launch party down in San Antonio! It's called "Gratitude," of course...
These people are helping to fund South of Hannah.
An anonymous donor