Friday, February 05, 2010

New This Week: In My Sister’s House by Donald Welch

The cover is ridiculous. Lurid and garish, it looks more appropriate to a steamy romance novel best read at the beach. In My Sister’s House (Ballantine/One World) is not that book. Rather it is a sharp and realistic representation of life in urban America. It might not be high art, but neither is it the low brow escape that the cover would suggest.

Skylar Morrison owns a hot Philadelphia nightclub called Legends. As the book begins, her sister, Storm, is released after three years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. Determined to get what she feels is hers, she storms Legends in an effort to get half of the nightclub, a share to which she feels entitled. Trouble ensues.

This is actor/singer/playwright Donald Welch’s second novel. The first, 2008’s The Bachlorette Party, was based on one of Welch’s more successful plays. The trouble with Welch’s novels are not with the books themselves. One very much gets the feeling that this talented writer is telling the stories that move him. The trouble is with a marketing department that seems a little unsure of how this clear-eyed, sharp-voiced writer should be shared with the world. One can’t help but think that some of the decisions that have been made in that regard will keep Welch from the part of his potential audience that would appreciate him most deeply... and never mind the existing fans that likely feel the need to keep this book covered if they read on the bus.

Meanwhile, Welch’s fans in the Los Angeles area will want to take note that the hit gospel musical stage play Hallelujah Mahalia!, written and directed by Welch, opens at the the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on February 27th.

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