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Hearing Voices

Fifth grade was quite a memorable year for Rudolph Delson.

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Rudolph Delson

Photo By Greg Martin

Fifth grade was quite a memorable year for Rudolph Delson. The San Francisco Bay Area native wrote a letter to his then-favorite author, Stephen King, proclaiming his literary ambitions and requesting a meeting (two months later, King wrote back: "Dear Rudy, Thanks for your letter, but no I can't meet with you....Good luck").

Perusing his debut novel, "Maynard & Jennica," out next month from Houghton Mifflin, it's safe to say Delson's level of reading material has since moved onward and upward. A simple plot summary would describe the story as a love affair, set in New York, between the misanthropic Maynard, a musician and filmmaker, and the romantic Jennica. But open the book and you'll find a rotating kaleidoscope of upward of 30 characters — including Jennica's parents, who speak only as a pair in Q&A format; Ana, a German con artist, and Maynard's dead ancestors — all of whom provide running commentary on and insight into the two main protagonists.

"If I was going to write it in first person, it was going to have to be at least two voices. And if two, why not three? And if three, why not 15?" offers Delson, 32, of his Russian novel-worthy collective (there's even a helpful guide to who's who at the end). "Once I had learned to channel Maynard and Jennica, it was just so much fun to chastise them with the voices of the people around them. This device became really addictive."

The character of Maynard emerged, in part, from Delson's own experience of moving to New York City as a onetime, 25-year-old NYU law student.

"I imagine, for people who come to New York with particular ambitions in the arts, there's a kind of anger that you begin to feel when you see the frivolousness and stupidity of all the people around you. You're in this tiny, miserable apartment; you don't have any money, and you're just trying to make ends meet," says Delson, his voice becoming comically higher with mock rage. "Maynard is just an embodiment of the ridiculousness of that feeling of distaste for what goes on around you."
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