"The Book of Important Moments" by UNLV professor Richard Wiley


A couple faces the impending birth of their child, the murder of the husband’s mother, and a rape in the wife’s past in “The Book of Important Moments.” Chapters detailing the stark background and motives of the rapist are interspersed throughout the book.

The novel is the newest work by UNLV professor Richard Wiley, whose books include the PEN/Faulkner Award for best American fiction winner “Soldiers in Hiding,” “Fools’ Gold,” “Festival for Three Thousand Maidens” and “Commodore Perry’s Minstrel Show.”

Wiley, who has been a member of the UNLV faculty since 1989, is also the associate director of the Black Mountain Institute at UNLV. Wiley is scheduled to speak as part of a Black Mountain Institute event at 7 p.m. Sept. 24 in Greenspun Hall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 4505 S. Maryland Parkway. For more information, visit blackmountaininstitute.org.

Excerpt from ‘The Book of Important Moments’

He stopped again, sure his eulogy was going south, sour, and wrong. He wanted to speak of his mother’s importance to everyone. He wanted to speak of her kindness, her dedication, her inordinate honesty, but looking out at these people, most of them conscripted and some of them looking at their watches, made him feel that she had only been important to him. Rose sat by his grandfather. She had worked in his grandfather’s nursing home, that was where Lars met her, and now she was his wife. And now his mother was dead.

“Oh, that such a good woman could live and die without the recognition she deserved!” he said. “Grandpa, do you remember when Dad first brought her home and you didn’t like her?”

He waited until his grandfather understood that the question wasn’t rhetorical. The beams at the ceiling of the chapel had dust motes floating around them, and the stained glass windows turned the place into a morning-light refectory, as if celebrating the beginning of someone’s life, not its end. He imagined parents bringing babies here for baptisms, happy faces everywhere.

“I do remember, Lars,” said his grandfather.

 

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