Author Bill Smoot is Today’s Honoree

About The Book:

Bill Smoot is a professor at UC Berkeley, a teacher at the San Quentin Prison Project, a professional photographer, and many other things. Bill’s debut novel, Love: A Story (Adelaide Books, August 15, 2019) is a  masterfully original examination of the choices that comprise a life. The book is a kind of philosophical musing on life and relationships, but also a compelling and intimate story about the relationship between two people—and the ups and downs therein—that’s wholly relatable and engrossing.

Love begins as Michael, a forty-year-old prep school teacher in Berkeley, is driving home from school and sees a baby stroller rolling down the street toward him. He slams on the brakes, jumps out of his car, and catches the stroller. The moment is symbolic: His wife is about to become pregnant and he wants to be a father more than anything in the world. The narrative moves back to meeting his wife four years earlier, when she is a young Singaporean-American, a nude model and a student in the chemistry Ph.D. program at Berkeley. They fall in love and marry. At the wedding, his friends are concerned about the age difference but agree that these two could “make this crazy thing work.” She struggles to heal her childhood wounds as an immigrant in America while he wishes to recreate the warmth of his small-town boyhood. The novel follows the development of their relationship and the decision each makes about whether to remain committed to a marriage that is less than perfect.

At every turn, the decisions the characters make are laden with possibilities either emerging or fading. With a deft hand, Smoot asks us to consider the nature of love, life, and storytelling.

About the Author:

Bill Smoot grew up in Maysville, Kentucky. His life as a writer began at age sixteen when, following an announcement at school that President Kennedy had been shot, he heard a classmate say, “I hope he dies.” In response he wrote an opinion piece for the school paper, and from that point he took up the pen as a kind of sword, trying to fight, in his modest way, for things humane and things true.

He received his BA from Purdue University where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Exponent. In his editorials and columns, he weighed in on the issues of the day. In response, the university president tried to fire him as editor and was forced to back down when the campus rose up in protest.

Mr. Smoot received his PhD in philosophy from Northwestern University and taught at Miami University in Ohio. He moved to California where he taught in private schools for four decades. His essays and short fiction have appeared in a number of publications, among them The Nation, Ohio Review, Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, Orchid, Tupelo QuarterlyNarrative, and He is also the author of Conversations with Great Teachers, a book of interviews with great teachers from across the country, and has been a fine art photographer specializing in black and white. He currently teaches in the Osher Institute of Lifelong Learning at UC-Berkeley and at the Prison University Project at San Quentin Prison. Mr. Smoot lives in Berkeley with his dog, Artemis.

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