Join us for a fascinating evening with local Alameda author Helen Joyce Harris as she discusses her debut novel, Visible Means of Support, and shares some of the ups and downs of writing a book while earning her MFA.
When an impetuous young man is imprisoned for conspiracy to deal cocaine, his mother's shame drives her to keep his whereabouts secret from her friends, colleagues, and most especially from her own distant, aristocratic mother. The cover story requires an elaborate -- sometimes almost absurd -- set of contortions.
Set at the peak of the "Just Say No" era in the late 1980s, Visible Means of Support depicts a young felon's adjustment to life inside the federal correctional system, as well as his mother's struggle with self-blame and her efforts to reconcile herself to her son's plight. Will the trouble tear this small family apart? If the secret leaks, will the people around her delight in spreading this gossip? Will it seal off her chance of promotion at the high school where she teaches? How can either son or mother ever again earn respect? And is the grandmother better off not knowing?
Visible Means of Support deals with universal issues not amenable to easy answers. Told from the points of view of the three main characters, this gripping, provocative, ultimately hopeful story explores the costs of locking away the truth, however unsavory, as well as the potential release to be found in setting it free.