While we might not go so far as to bug a phone, or go searching for our sister’s diary, most of us love a juicy story, and how many can honestly say that if said diary was left in plain sight we wouldn’t sneak a quick peek.
This innate nosiness has even spawned a whole new genre of entertainment known as reality TV.
As enticing as that inside information may be, however, what happens when the scoop you get turns out to be a little more than you bargained for?
This is exactly what happens to Miles Adler-Hart in Mona Simpson’s new novel, “Casebook,” due out on April 15. But before that, Simpson will come to the Newport Beach Public Library on March 27 to discuss her new book and sign copies.
Miles’ investigation starts out innocently enough, when he begins eavesdropping on his parents to get a little insider information on their plans as they relate to him. What he hears them planning, however, has little to do with his own future, and a lot to do with their intention to separate.
As the story unfolds, the Adler-Hart family dissolves, and Miles’ mother, whom he refers to as “the Mims,” begins a relationship with a new beau, Eli, a supposed scientist from Washington, D.C.
Now obsessed with spying on his mother, Miles enlists his friend, Hector to help him in his pursuits. The boys, joined by private investigator, Ben Orion, turn their dirt-digging skills on Eli, sensing inconsistencies in his story long before any alarm bells ring for the Mims.
The curiosity that first propelled Miles to eavesdrop has now taken on a life of its own. After tapping his mother’s phone, and going through her computer, mail, and personal effects, he has uncovered information he would rather not have known, and now has to live with the consequences of this knowledge.
Recognizing his own propensity for snooping, and the less than desirable outcome it has brought, he says, “I was a snoop, but a peculiar kind. I only discovered what I most didn’t want to know.”
And so it usually goes, young Miles.
More than a story about a couple of nosy kids, “Casebook” looks at the different factors that make up a family. At the outset, we see a family falling apart, but by the end, after looking at all their peculiarities, oddities, and expectations — both met and unmet, we also see how they rally around one another to build the family back up, even as its very nature is changing.
Simpson, author of several novels, including “Anywhere but Here,” and “My Hollywood,” is a professor of English as well, teaching at both UCLA and Bard College. Interestingly enough, she is also the biological sister of Steve Jobs, although since Jobs was adopted before she was born, they did not meet until Simpson was in her twenties.
In conjunction with the release of this new book, Simpson will be visiting the Newport Beach Public Library on Thursday, March 27, as part of this year’s Library Live series. The program, held at the Central Library, will take place from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with book sales and signing taking place immediately after. While the event is free of charge, a ten-dollar donation at the door is suggested, and reservations are encouraged.
Tickets are distributed to reservation holders on a first come, first served basis.
To find more information on the event, or to make a reservation, please visit www.nbplfoundation.org.
For more information on Mona Simpson and her books, please visit www.monasimpson.com.
Edie Crabtree is an avid reader and the mother of three active boys. She can be reached at [email protected], or on the Facebook page, Under Cover Book Corner.