PERSONAL: Male. Education: University of Kansas, B.A.; University of Iowa, Iowa Writers Workshop, M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home—Springfield, MO. Office—Missouri State University, English Department, Pummill 301, 901 S. National Ave., Springfield, MO 65897. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Previously taught at Boston University and Northeastern University; Missouri State University, Springfield, MO, assistant professor.
The Cuban Prospect, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2003.
Aftermath, Doubleday (New York, NY), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Brian Shawver's first novel, The Cuban Prospect, follows the adventures of Dennis Birch, a washed up baseball player and scout for the minor leagues who is sent to Cuba in order to smuggle out Ramon Diego Sagasta, an up-and-coming pitcher. While trying to leave the country, their plans go awry, and by the time Birch reaches home, he has lost Sagasta somewhere along the way. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews remarked that "Shawver knows his subject all right, but hasn't successfully fictionalized it. If this were a ballgame, most viewers would tune out before both teams had batted around." In a review for Publishers Weekly, a contributor found that "the premise is intriguing, and Shawver's portrait of the astringent Birch and his brewing resentment of Sagasta is believable." Stuart Miller, writing for Sporting News, called Shawver's effort "a suspenseful page-turner," and Bill Ott, in a review for Booklist, referred to The Cuban Prospect as "a rollicking story."
In Aftermath Shawver looks at what can happen in the wake of a tragedy. In a small, blue-collar town in Pennsylvania, Casey Fielder, the manager of a restaurant, stands back one night and simply watches as two rival gangs of teens—one made up of the town's wealthy, more privileged youth, and the other consisting of high-school "townies"—fight each other in an icy parking lot. Fielder has called the police on a previous occasion, but found himself in trouble for getting involved, as his employers do not want the poor publicity. At the end of the fight, one of the boys, a wealthy, prep-school kid, lies in a pool of blood; although he survives, he suffers permanent brain damage. Fielder loses his job in the midst of a raging controversy.
A contributor for Publishers Weekly, calling Aftermath "polished," observed that "the people in Shawver's story can be as bleak as the landscape." Writing for Kirkus Reviews, a contributor remarked that Shawver paints "a depressingly realistic picture of 'class warfare' and moral instability in everyday America," and called it "a harbinger of even better work to come." Andrea Tarr, in a review for Library Journal, found Shawver's story to be "often heartbreaking and sometimes shocking," labeling it a "moving study of class division and its tensions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 2003, Wes Lukowsky, review of The Cuban Prospect, p. 1051; September 1, 2003, Bill Ott, "Top 8 Sports Fiction," review of The Cuban Prospect, p. 40.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of The Cuban Prospect, p. 22; October 15, 2005, review of Aftermath, p. 1105.
Library Journal, November 1, 2005, Andrea Tarr, review of Aftermath, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, March 10, 2003, review of The Cuban Prospect, p. 54; September 26, 2005, review of Aftermath, p. 60.
Sporting News, April 14, 2003, Stuart Miller, "Bound to Be Hits for Baseball Lovers," review of The Cuban Prospect, p. 11.
Missouri State University Web site, http://www.missouristate.edu/ (January 25, 2006), "Brian Shawver."