Keith Hollihan’s fame spreads in unusual ways

It’s a big month in the Hollihan/Williams household.

For one thing Keith Hollihan’s debut novel “The Four Stages of Cruelty,” hits bookstores this week, and he’ll do his official book-launch tomorrow at the Loft in Minneapolis.

The novel hits the ground running, having already been named one of the top books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly.

“I hope it gives the book some extra steam,” he told me the other day when he came to MPR to talk about the book. “I really, really appreciate the recognition – love to get some more!” he smiled.

The novel is a tense prison tale which swirls around the drama caused by, of all things, a hand-drawn comic book. It goes missing after a prisoner is found hanged in an abandoned part of the building, and everyone has a different theory of its role in the death.

You can hear our interview about how he came to write the novel on ATC tonight, and on the MPRNews page.

However it’s not just in the literary world Hollihan is getting exposure. He is married to Rosemary Williams, an artist who attracted some attention for her project to visit every store in the Mall of America, to collect a bag from each one.

Williams latest show “Belongings” opens at the Soap Factory on December 18th.

“Hopefully, we’re both having a good December,” Hollihan said.

“With this show she literally videotaped herself holding every single object in our house, including every scrap of paper, every toothbrush. It took her a great deal of time, and more computer memory than I think anyone would have expected.”

The video images will be displayed on screens around the Soap Factory Gallery. Hollihan says it was a painstaking experience, and one which had an unexpected consequence.

“I think that interestingly that the genesis for that was when her father passed away,’ he continued. “And she brought home some of his belongings that seemed so attached to him as a person, as a personality. And when they arrived at our house, they no longer seemed to be attached to him any more.”

“It’s interesting how that holding up of objects actually detaches it from the emotional sense that this is ours,” Hollihan said. “I mean I do recognize, yes, that’s my hockey stick, yes, that’s a book that I’ve read, but….” he trailed off.

He says as he wrote “The Four Stages of Cruelty” there were times when he felt he was in prison. When I suggest perhaps the “Belongings” project is a form if imprisonment for Williams, he nods in agreement.

“She has some sort of strange desire to chronicle the infinite,” he laughed.

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