Greenport author Melanie Mitzner’s book Slow Reveal (May 2022, Inanna Publications) won American Book Fest’s Best Book Award earlier this month — and while the book is a work of fiction, some of the places she describes in its pages are right here on the North Fork.
Set in the 1990s in New York City and on the North Fork, Slow Reveal is about a family of artists — the Kanes — whose life is turned upside down when they discover their matriarch, Katharine, a film editor, has been living a parallel life.
“What it’s really about is that profoundly human enigma that we call the nuclear family,” Mitzner said in a recent interview. “Because there’s painful yet tender bonds that we have with our family, and how much our primary relationships with our parents and our siblings influence the trajectory of our lives.”
Katharine’s decade-long affair with Naomi, a lesbian poet, is discovered by her husband, Jonathan, and her two grown daughters, one an installation artist and the other an aspiring writer.
Her marriage crumbles as Jonathan struggles to remain sober after being shunned for politicizing art. He renounces his career and turns to advertising. Katharine remains tethered to her former life through her daughters, all the while still facing their confrontations. Then an unforeseen tragedy strikes and further impacts the artists’ work, relationships and family dynamics.
A family of artists were the perfect characters for the story Mitzner wanted to tell, she said.
“Rarely, if ever, does a work [of art] or relationship end up being what you envision in the first place because conception is really about fantasy and imagination,” she said. “It’s not until you move past the discovery process that you really realize the role you play and what you hope for.”
Mitzner first came to Greenport from New York City in 1994. She and her partner, Nicke Gorney, an abstract artist, moved to Canada to care for Gorney’s ailing parents. They were in Canada from 2009 through 2020, when they moved back to the North Fork. Their plan was always to return.
“As far as the community goes, this is the greatest place — we’re really tight with our neighbors and we’re really so radically different politically and everything, but we just can’t be any closer, they’re like family,” she said. “And that’s what I love about the North Fork; we haven’t descended into this unmanageable place that our country’s descended into, and it’s really like a safe haven. I hope it stays that way.”
Now in its 21st year, American Book Fest’s competition is one of the country’s largest for mainstream book awards. Mitzner’s book won in the LGBTQ+ fiction category.
Other accolades the novel has won include 2022 women’s best fiction debut and a 2022 best seller on Small Press Distribution Books. She hopes this award helps her get a literary agent to increase exposure to her work.
“It’s an honor,” Mitzner said. “I hope that maybe I’ll reach a whole new group of people. You’re a needle in a haystack these days so it’s very hard to get your work out there.”
Mitzner is currently working on two novels. One of them, called “House of Discontent,” also delves into family dynamics. The second book explores rediscovering oneself after the loss of a long-term relationship.
Although “Slow Reveal” is available at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Bookshop.org, Mitzner encouraged anyone interested in purchasing the book to buy it from their local bookstore, and noted that it’s available at Burton’s Bookstore in Greenport.