In 2018, Mary completed her third novel manuscript, CAMBRIDGE ROYALTY, a Rabbit Run meets The Wire. This polished literary novel with a commercial bent is an eventful story about race, love, addiction and urban renewal that takes place in The Coast, an under-represented neighborhood of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
CAMBRIDGE ROYALTY is a literary novel about a resilient African American addict and criminal that takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It is the fictional story of Jackson Tower, a smart, optimistic, father with generational roots in the city, but in many ways this book is also the author’s story: the result of her compulsion to uncover the secret life of a man she had the pleasure of living with for most of the ten years they were together.
When the novel begins, Jackson works on the crew upgrading the infrastructure of an elementary school built on what was his grandfather’s land, seized by the city when he was a child to accommodate the children of new families drawn to the area as part of the soaring growth brought on by Harvard, MIT, and the industries spawned by those institutions. After the union takes him off that job, and his city abandons his efforts to get reinstated, Jackson tries to get whole while gradually unraveling.
This novel is a thematically-resonant story, driven by dramatic events that take place in the underrepresented neighborhoods of an esteemed part of the US. Jackson himself, lovable and complicated, a victim as well as a perpetrator of injustice, has his own take on racism and fair play, sometimes illuminating, and sometimes confused. The writing rigorously avoids conforming to notions of correctness and well-meaning. Instead it seeks to widen the frame, inviting readers to struggle with the messiness of life.
The New England Review published a short story that borrows closely from the first chapter.
Please read this story online or download the PDF from this project's media collection, as it appears in The New England Review since December 2017.