Kidneys Fail and Moon Brightens for Rising Writer in March

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Author Christopher Meeks finds two different and major projects coming together in the same week in March. His novel "The Brightest Moon of the Century" will be published March 7, and five days later, his play "Who Lives?" opens across town in a new and impressive production.

"Just as planets sometimes align," says author Christopher Meeks, "sometimes two very different projects blossom in the same week by coincidence. This wasn't planned."

He's referring to his stage drama and comic novel coming together the same week next month. On March 7th, his novel "The Brightest Moon of the Century" will be published, highlighted with a 5 p.m. publication party at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena. Five days later on March 12th, across town in West Los Angeles, his historical play Who Lives? opens at 8 p.m. in a new production at the Pico Playhouse.

The two projects have quite different tones and subjects, but share what book reviewer Marc Schuster has described as "the work of an expert storyteller." "Who Lives?" focuses on the first practical kidney dialysis machine in the sixties and the citizen committee that chose only a handful of people who might be saved. It was the first clinical test of this new invention. What makes a person valuable? Who gets to live? Hospitals and health programs still ask these questions today when services and money are limited.

Meeks's first novel, "The Brightest Moon of the Century," is the story of Edward, a young Minnesotan, blessed with an abundance of "experience"--first when his mother dies and next when his father, an encyclopedia salesman, shoehorns Edward into a private boys school where he's tortured and groomed. Edward needs a place in the universe, but he also wants an understanding of women. In nine chapters, the reader experiences Edward's life from ages 14 to 45.

The novel and play production follow Meeks's highly acclaimed collections of short stories, "The Middle-Aged Man and the Sea" and "Months and Seasons." The two collections and the published version of the play won Noble (not Nobel) Awards from reviewer Carolyn Howard-Johnson, and the first book also appeared in Entertainment Weekly.

Top-Ten Amazon.com reviewer Grady Harp, in his long, thoughtful review on the new novel writes, "Christopher Meeks has produced up to now two of the finest, most intelligent, entertaining, and socially sensitive collections of short stories. For those of us who have become Meeks devotees based on these short stories, the anticipation of a full-length novel has been both exciting and a bit dubious. It is an entirely different challenge to carry a character and a few ideas, well developed as they are in Meeks's hands, along a path that justifies a complete novel. But with THE BRIGHTEST MOON OF THE CENTURY, Christopher Meeks has crossed that bridge so successfully that his stance in the echelon of new important American writers seems solidly secure."

"Who Lives?" was first produced at the 24th Street Theatre in Los Angeles in 1997, receiving many positive reviews including a Pick of the Week from the L.A. Weekly. Critic Madeline Shaner wrote in another review, "The play works on a highly dramatic level, engaging the intellect and the emotions in equally demanding proportions, so rare in today's theatre, but a combination devoutly to be wished."

Meeks explains how the novel's publication and the play's production came to be in the same week. "Publication dates for books are selected months in advance. I knew in September that 'Brightest Moon' would come out on March 7th. Then two months later, I learned the Renal Support Network wanted to take my play across the country, starting with a production in Los Angeles. The producer wanted to open it on National Kidney Day, March 12th."

Thus, as interest in both projects mount, Meeks crosses his fingers and knocks on wood, actions that his friend, Reverend James Juul of the Church of Good Luck, a new ministry based on good luck, says can't hurt.

For more information on "Who Lives?", go to http://www.wholivesplay.com or call Lisa Singelyn at (818) 731-0935.

For more information on "The Brightest Moon of the Century," go to Christopher Meeks's website, http://www.chrismeeks.com or contact him at chrismeeks (at) gmail (dot) com.

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CHRISTOPHER MEEKS

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