AL SCHNUPP Featured in EPHRATA
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- Published: Wednesday, 01 September 2021 23:21
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The August 25, 2021 issue of Ephrata Review features two photographs and a substantial article/review by Larry Alexander on Al Schnupp's Goods & Effects and on his other new novella--Zero. Here's the text of
"Ephrata '71 Grad Pens Two Novellas"
Retiring after 30 years of teaching in the theater arts and dance department at the California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo, an Ephrata man is trying his hand as a novelist.
Alvin J. Schnupp, 68, and a 1971 graduate of Ephrata High School, has not one but two novellas coming out later this month.
"I've written quite a few plays, but after I retired, I said I'm going to try to work on prose," Schnupp said. "These are my first attempts on prose." Goods and Effects ($16.95, Golden Antelope Press, 177 pages) is the story of the social, emotional and political evolution of Hannah, a conservative Mennonite woman, after she is forced into the world alone following the deaths of her husband and two sons in a silo accident.
"She sells the farm and gets a delivery truck that she transforms into a store and living quarters," Schnupp said.
In the course of her travels – she drives different circuits in her truck, repeating them every two weeks ? she meets an assortment of people with an equally wide assortment of beliefs and lifestyles.
There's Nathan who owns the motel where Hannah often parks her truck. Darla is a talented, deaf artist who accompanies Hannah on her rounds. Wanda is a sassy receptionist at a distribution center. Hannah also meets Naomi, wife of a pious deacon, who entertains fantasies of sexual freedom, and Frank, a gentle farmer with a chronically ill wife, who harbors great affection for Hannah. Velma owns a woodworking shop while LeRoy is a Black farmer and talented singer whose family is subjected to racial terrorism.
As Hannah's relationships deepen, her faith diminishes but her vision of humanity expands and she transforms into a liberal humanist and feminist.
"It's a story of going from a very strict conservative environment to one that is more inclusive," Schnupp said.
The story was written 20 years ago as a play, Schnupp said, and originally Hannah was a Baptist woman. Then, himself raised as a Mennonite, he changed Hannah's religious affiliation as a way of forming "a deeper exploration into my own heritage."
"The book is completely fictional but she and I share a similar story," Schnupp said. "As I studied acting and went to New York City and met people of different tastes and different sexual orientation, I certainly had to leave behind a lot of my experiences living in Lancaster County."
Zero, Schnupp's other book ($14.95, Cabal Books, 144 pages), is sheer political satire. Another story originally written 20 years ago, it centers around a character named Zero, an egotistical buffoon with no talent, who becomes the darling political celebrity of his country as he runs for the office of Icon of the mythical nation of Groad.
Zero is driven toward this goal by his conniving wife Maxie, who pushes her husband forward. In order to secure enough money for the campaign to become Icon of Groad, they befriend rich industrialists, oil barons and publishers. A campaign manager is hired, followed by a fundraiser event and a makeover. Zero is given a winning wardrobe and receives instructions in speech-making. Commercials are shot. Candidates for vice president are interviewed. A national debate occurs between candidates of Groad's four political parties; Screwzer, Crowbar, Sickle, and Ratchet, during which all of the candidates follow the same formula by making outrageous claims and repeating stock phrases. For votes, Zero appeals to the Zealots, Hysterics and Fanatics while hiring goons to beat down opponents. Yet behind the facade, some of Zero's rise was the result of illegal and lethal skulduggery.
Enter Inspector Oodles, a bumbling detective who, along with his ditzy assistant Minnie, delve into the questionable goings-on by Zero and Maxie that could possibly lead to murder. To uncover the truth, Oodles dons a variety of disguises and accents.
"I was inspired by a few politicians," Schnupp said. "I wrote it as a play and we performed it. Then we went to a festival and got a lot of good feedback as a play."
Schnupp is thankful to his publishers. As any author knows, it is difficult to put out a book unless one self-publishes. Schnupp didn't go that route. His being published by Golden Antelope and Cabal, both small independent publishers, was the end result of a lot of hard work and rejection.
"We're talking hundreds and hundreds of emails," he said.
Currently Schnupp has no more books planned.
"I'll see what happens here," he said.
Instead he will devote time to another love, painting.
Both books were released in May and currently can be ordered online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other book sites.
Larry Alexander is a correspondent for The Ephrata Review