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‘It Happened Here’: Book signing to feature first novel of CATF playwright

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Oct 23, 2020


SHEPHERDSTOWN — This Monday at 6:30 p.m., Four Seasons Books will host a virtual book signing for Rick Dresser’s first novel, “It Happened Here.”

Dresser has previously written a number of television series and plays — seven of which have been featured during the Contemporary American Theater Festival, making him the festival’s “most produced playwright,” according to CATF Public Relations Manager Gabrielle Tokach.

The novel is unique, according to Dresser, because it is entirely composed of dialogue. The closest literary comparison to his novel writing style, is an oral history.

“I wanted the characters to carry the entire story. Since I’d never written a novel before, I thought, ‘Let’s see how this goes!'” Dresser said. “It was a huge challenge — but for a writer, it’s a great challenge, to be able to do something that’s never been done before. It was sort of a mosaic of all of these voices and you put them all together.

“The fact that I’ve written a lot of plays, really helped in defining that each character had a distinctive way of speaking. Once you get into the book, it’s clear who’s speaking,” Dresser said. “People tell me it’s very easy to read, because the characters are easily defined.”

Dresser finished writing the novel last November, and said he’s been astonished to see how some of its predictions for the future have already come true this year. Specifically, Dresser noted one coincidence where a political figure in his novel, similarly to President Donald Trump this summer, suggests postponing the 2020 election.

“It’s not like I had any brilliant predictions, I was just paying attention,” Dresser said. “The political side of the book was fun to write, but it’s very speculative. I remember last year, all this talk of people not going home for Thanksgiving because they didn’t want to sit across the table from the person on the other side. That’s one of the things that got me going, in terms of the structure of the family.

According to Dresser, the novel focuses on how members of an American family deal with being politically and ideologically polarized from one another, over a 15-year period.

“I really want people to know that this is a book that is mainly about a family. It’s not about this election — it’s about a family holding onto each other, keeping connections,” Dresser said, mentioning writing the story for a play, like he had initially envisioned, would not have worked, due to the story’s numerous scene changes. “I don’t want people to think this is a wild, left-wing story. That’s not the point.

“The thing about the family in this book, is that they always come back to each other,” Dresser said. “That’s another thing that I find very hopeful — a family that can be at wildly different positions politically and culturally, ultimately they can be there for each other.”

The virtual book launch will be livestreamed from Four Seasons Books on CATF’s Facebook and YouTube pages. The event will feature Dresser being interviewed by former WEPM radio host Hans Fogle.

To receive a personalized copy of the novel, order it from Four Seasons Books prior to the event and ask for it to be autographed, made out to a specific person or to have a special message included. There is no additional cost for autographed copies. Signed copies will be available to pick up at Four Seasons Books.

Contact Four Seasons Books at 304-876-3486 or 4seasons114@gmail.com.