Though thrilled about having the book published, Beachy doesn't see his struggle as an especially valiant one. "Yeah, I had my share of rejections," he admits, "but I haven't had a particularly hard existence. I didn't grow up as a child soldier and make it to America and share my story."

His words are eerily similar to Stuart Hurst's in The Slide, who explains to Potter that folks of their station shouldn't complain. "You and I don't live in Cambodia," Stuart says. "There aren't land mines in our backyards that could blow our limbs off every time we go out for a jog."


The Slide arrives at a perilous moment for the publishing industry. Reflecting widespread economic woes, book sales are down, and in November Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced a buying freeze on new manuscripts. Layoffs and corporate restructuring at companies, including Random House, followed.

Kyle Beachy.
Chad Griffith
Kyle Beachy.
Beachy's father, Roger, heads the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, while his mother, Terry, is a retired speech pathologist for the Special School District of St. Louis county.
Jennifer Silverberg
Beachy's father, Roger, heads the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, while his mother, Terry, is a retired speech pathologist for the Special School District of St. Louis county.

Even in strong markets, quiet novels are often overshadowed by celebrity tell-alls, diet cookbooks and legal thrillers. So while Beachy is optimistic about his book's success, "whether it explodes in popularity or makes an impact on the circus of our culture, that's no longer up to me," he cautions.

He says economic realities and other factors played into the publisher's decision to release the book in paperback, but insists he's not disappointed. "It's a lot easier to push a $13 book on people than a $25 book," he says, "especially if nobody has heard of me before."

Beachy adds that his next book will involve "bones" and "skateboarding," though it's too early to say more than that. For now he's focused on his lit classes at the Art Institute, this semester teaching "Television, Trash, and Dread: Don DeLillo's America," and planning next year to add a course on David Foster Wallace's lengthy tome Infinite Jest.

Otherwise, his future's wide open. He has no plans to join his long-distance girlfriend in New York, partly because he's attached to his Art Institute gig and partly because he loves Chicago's proximity to his hometown. "I get to St. Louis often," he says. "It's only a five-hour drive — I can take my dog." (Whose name, by the way, is Lolita.)

"I can't think of anywhere I'd rather raise children," he continues. "I want to raise them where there's a value placed on being a good person — holding the door, saying 'hello' and 'thank you,' and blessing strangers when they sneeze. I just think that people who are raised in St. Louis are good people."

Unlike Jonathan Franzen's characters, however, when Kyle Beachy says such things, he means them as compliments.

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