Set at a boys’ boarding school in New England during World War II, A Separate Peace is considered by many to be the quintessential coming of age novel. It tells the story of Gene, an introverted intellectual, and his friendship with Phineas, a handsome, charming athlete, over the course of one summer. In his “Bookmarked” entry, author Kirby Gann juxtaposes the novel’s tragic take on lost adolescent innocence with his own growing emotional and artistic awareness as a boy growing up in Kentucky in the 1970s and 1980s. In the process, Gann creates an indelible work that celebrates the timeliness of John Knowles’ classic novel.
Kirby Gann is the author of the novel Ghosting (2012), which was included in “Best of Year” lists from Publishers Weekly and Shelf Awareness, and a finalist for the Kentucky Book of the Year. He has published two other novels, The Barbarian Parade (2002), and Our Napoleon in Rags (2005), and co-edited the anthology A Fine Excess: Contemporary Literature at Play, which was a finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Award (Anthologies). His work has appeared most recently in The Louisville Review, The Oxford American, and The Southeast Review, and his stories are forthcoming in Ploughshares and Post Road.
The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked—a book that left its mark). Each book in the series is a no-holds barred personal narrative detailing how a particular novel influenced an author on their journey to becoming a writer, as well as the myriad directions in which that journey has taken them.