Around the Island

Suspense and perseverance at the library

COURTESY PHOTO |James Whitfield Thomson, author of ‘Lies You Wanted to Hear,’ will be at Friday Night Dialogues at the Shelter Island Library on September 25.
COURTESY PHOTO | James Whitfield Thomson, will be at Friday Night Dialogues at the Shelter Island Library on September 25.

Author James Whitfield Thomson will read from his novel, “Lies You Wanted to Hear,” at the Shelter Island Library’s Friday Night Dialogues on September 25 in the library’s Community Room at 7 p.m.

As befitting someone who wrote his doctoral thesis on the detective novelist Raymond Chandler, “Lies You Wanted to Hear” is a suspense-laden tale of a Boston family, a family of “good people” who ultimately do unthinkable, far-from-good things. Based on a true story, the novel is Mr. Thompson’s first, and follows the publication of his short stories in a number of literary magazines, including The Ledge and Agni, as well as a grant from the Massachusetts Arts Council.

In addition to reading from “Lies” and answering audience questions, Mr. Thompson will discuss the struggles a new author faces and the difficulties in getting a book published. As he said on his website, “I hope my perseverance is an inspiration to other struggling writers who also find an audience for their work.”

Libraries hold a special place for Mr. Thompson. He wrote most of this book in the carrels at the East Hampton Library and the Morse Institute Library in Natick, Massachusetts, where he and his wife Elizabeth split their time.

Mr. Thomson grew up on the north side of Pittsburgh and attended Harvard College on scholarship. Upon graduating, he served three years as an officer in the Navy as the navigator of a supply ship off the coast of Vietnam.

He earned a Ph.D. in American studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote his dissertation on Raymond Chandler. He pursued a brief career in academia at the University of Miami before joining an Atlanta-based start-up in sales, a venture that ultimately allowed him to retire early and pursue his dream of writing full time.

“Lies You Wanted to Hear” was chosen as the book of the month for Redbook magazine and selected as a “must read” by both People and Marie Claire magazines, as well as a pick of the month by LibraryReads, a consortium of public librarians — all gratifying responses for the 68-year-old first-time author.

Friday Night Dialogues are free, although donations are always appreciated.

Coming up: Frank Cunningham will talk about the “Challenges of Genealogical Research,” on October 2, which ties in with the library’s recent acquisition of Dr. Anthonette Desire will continue her Wednesday “Health Matters” talks on health and wellness at 10:15 a.m. until November 4.