On Saturday, May 3rd, H. L. Sudler, the author who lives in Washington, DC, returned to his home town of Philadelphia to do a reading from his 2014 novel Summerville, a thriller based on Sudler's newspaper serial published in the Rehoboth Beach Gazette. The serial ran in the summer for four years.
Summerville is Sudler's second book. It's in the vein of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, which takes place all in one location. Instead of an apartment building in San Francisco, Sudler sets his book at a bed-and-breakfast along the Delaware coast. Like Maupin, Sudler's book includes an assortment of characters whose lives intersect.
Sudler leans more toward soap opera twists and shocks with each chapter being only a few pages long. Sudler sometimes will end his brief chapters, which he admitted makes for better beach reading, with teases. Each brief chapter is actually rather contained. There are things, which sometimes lead into the next, but Sudler will sometimes attach a tease as the very last line.
Because the book is set at Cedar House, a fictional bed-and-breakfast in Rehoboth Beach, the two characters who are central end up being Dallas Hemingway and Jarrett Hemingway, the father and son who manage the intimate resort. Sudler gave the reading at Giovanni's Room, which is a historic book store that exclusively sells gay and lesbian materials. Sudler is himself gay and it's no surprise that these two central characters are of the same orientation.
When Sudler read, he went though excerpts involving two other of his more infamous characters: David Youngblood, a drunk and spoiled adult-brat, and Warren Cassie, a Hispanic fugitive. One is a future villain. The other is a future anti-hero. Both become involved in intense confrontations and Sudler reading for these two characters is indicative of the tenor of the book.
Sudler uses intense confrontations and more particularly moments of brutal violence as guide posts, buoys or anchors for his narrative. These anchors include murder and rape, each described in graphic and gory detail, but there's two problems. One problem is the constant teasing of these violent acts. The second problem is who takes those violent acts.