Choose Touch and Go for your book club — for a lively read with plenty of action and topics to discuss: What is family? blindness? sight? strength? Thad has joined several book club meetings by Skype. If you’re interested, contact Thad by email at newsinfo (at) nodine (dot) net.
Past Public Events
Presentation: “Family, Foster Care, and (dis)Ability,” Soroptimist Club, Sacramento, CA, Nov. 15, 2013.
Author Reading in Boulder, CO, Apr. 6, 2012. Photos.
Author Reading at Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA, Dec. 5 (with Claudia Sternbach and Katherine Kindred).
Book Signing at Barnes & Nobel in Clearwater, FL, Nov. 5. Photos.
Author Reading at Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Oct. 21 (with Andrea Portes). Photos.
Author Reading at UC Santa Cruz, Oct. 19, sponsored by Writers House at Kresge College.
Author Reading at Keplers Books in Menlo Park, CA, Oct. 15 (with Rachael Herron), sponsored by Women’s National Book Assn. Photos.
Book Release Launch at Capitola Book Cafe, Capitola, CA, Sept. 28, 2011. Photos.
Starred review by Publisher’s Weekly:
In this nontraditional travel novel, Nodine questions the meaning of family, love, and perception. Kevin is a recovering addict who lives in Burbank with his sponsors, Isa and Patrick, and their foster children, a Mexican boy and a black teenager. A childhood accident has left Kevin blind, a deficit he’s overcome by pursuing his dreams as a reporter. But when he gets laid off, he’s tempted to relapse into addiction and longing for Isa, with whom he had an affair that caused much tension. To distract him from his career woes, Kevin’s sponsors invite him to travel with them to Florida to deliver a handmade coffin to Isa’s ailing father. With the coffin strapped atop an old station wagon, the family sets out on a two-week adventure through the American South, discovering lies and betrayals, and winding up in the path of Hurricane Katrina… Nodine’s novel is ultimately a winning debut, a stunning vision of the fractured modern American family seen through the heightened observations of a man who has embraced his disability.
“What a rare experience is this beautifully written first novel by Santa Cruz author Thad Nodine. A road trip about a blind protagonist and his ramshackle journey through the deep South, Touch and Go (Unbridled, $16.95) bristles with ingenuity and style. Jack Kerouac meets Huck Finn, with a dash of 21st century Tennessee Williams… Fast and frankly unforgettable, Touch and Go insists upon the urgency of human connection, the sense that we too are among these unlikely comrades, traveling toward one thing and invariably arriving at something completely different.”
From Greg Langley at the Baton Rouge Advocate:
They’re off in a beat-up old station wagon with no air-conditioning and miles and miles of desert ahead. Remember, it’s summer. It’s 2005 and they’re headed across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama into Florida. What could go wrong? They might hit a storm. They might hit THE storm… The plot is sometimes funny, sometimes scary and often full of surprises… Kevin’s character is a vivid depiction of a man who has a disability that he has not quite accepted. Both Patrick and Isa are memorable, but Devon and Ray are even more vivid. You will sometimes love them all and sometimes hate them, but you won’t find them boring.
From The Book Lady’s Blog:
“Set your skepticism about a blind narrator’s ability to present a fully-realized world aside because you. will. be. floored… Touch and Go is worth reading for the uniquely crafted narration alone, but it has much more to recommend it. Nodine draws out his characters’ flaws in the kindest possible way, nudging them toward complete humanity, while he examines the meaning of families — those we’re born into and those we create — and our boundless capacities for love and hurt. Touch and Go marks the arrival of an astounding new voice in fiction and is destined for this year’s “Best Of” lists, no doubt.”
From The Next Best Book Club:
“Touch and Go, by debut novelist Thad Nodine, is a multi-cultural, non-traditional masterpiece that will worm its way into every reader’s heart… Touch and Go is also a story of survival, of breaking bad habits, and of becoming comfortable in one’s own skin. As Kevin and the gang make the trip from Burbank to Isa’s father’s house, they are forced–each in their own way–to exorcise their demons… A wonderfully engaging, well paced, amazing effort from a first time novelist.”
“It takes a certain amount of audacity–not to mention skill–for a sighted author to write an entire novel from a blind character’s, er, viewpoint. For one thing, there are no elaborate visual descriptions to fall back on–interiors, city streets, the changing landscape on the road, not even the characters’ faces. None of which daunts Nodine, who makes a vivid sensory feast out of everyday activities as Kevin relates his experience of the physical world. (“Footsteps spat across concrete at odd angles. A stroller nearly clipped me… I blustered across alcoves as the heels of my Western boots echoed the recesses.”) From Kevin’s perspective, Nodine’s descriptions of the other characters are so alive–the emotional pitch of voices, how a shoulder or elbow feels to the touch, a fleeting scent of perfume, or sweat, or chlorine, fidgety hands, intimate confessions–the reader may not even realize he doesn’t know what they actually look like.”
From Bookshop Santa Cruz:
Local author Thad Nodine has done the impossible and written a novel that is funny, telling, original, and heartfelt. I know on their own perhaps those adjectives might not stand out, but together they make a whirlwind of a read. Narrated by Kevin, a blind and recently unemployed journalist, we are introduced to a make-shift family that has as many unlikable traits as they do likeable. As the family sets out on a road trip, we find ourselves rooting for them, wanting them to figure it out, to grow up and listen to one another. This is that book that has you shaking your head in exasperation, laughing, and tearing up all at the same time. What a read!
Perfect For: Dave Eggers & Nick Hornby fans. This is that delightful read that is truly heartfelt and original but with just enough humor thrown in.
From the Oberlin Alumni Magazine:
There’s a lot that goes on in the world, especially between people, that no one really sees. So what better way to get at it than to tell a story from the viewpoint of a blind man? But Touch and Go, Thad Nodine’s debut novel, is a road trip story–a genre that usually relies upon the telling visual details that serve as mile markers for each pilgrim’s progress. Instead, Nodine’s narrator hears the footsteps, smells the perfume, touches the outlines, and feels his way across the country with his makeshift family. Nodine also turns the traditional American road trip around, starting west and heading east, perhaps suggesting our destiny is not so manifest. Also worth noting: All three adults on the trip are recovering addicts; there’s a handmade wooden coffin strapped atop their station wagon; and the group hits Biloxi, Mississippi, around the same time Hurricane Katrina does. Publisher’s Weekly said it’s “one of the year’s finest fiction debuts,” and novelist Jonathan Franzen calls the novel “a strong debut–a high-velocity vision quest that keeps surprising and surprising.”
About a dozen reviews are up at LibraryThing. Here’s what two of them say:
“At times hilariously funny and at others terribly sad, the author has given us a cast of memorable characters and taken us on an epic road trip. This novel … deserves to be strongly promoted and widely read.”
“Touch and Go is unique… It has been compared to Kerouac’s On the Road and Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying but I think it stands on its own… Nodine’s writing captures the speech and idiosyncracies of current life.”
Articles and Interviews
“Touch and Go: Thad Nodine’s vision quest,” by Wallace Baine, Santa Cruz Sentinel
“Interview with author Thad Nodine,” an audio interview by Linda Joy Myers, co-president of the Women’s National Book Association
“Alumnus Thad Nodine to read from debut novel,” by Scott Rappaport, UCSC University News
“Touch and Go author Thad Nodine revisits Clearwater stamping ground,” by Piper Castillo, Tampa Bay Times
“What’s Thad Nodine Reading?” by Piper Castillo, Tampa Bay Times