The Fermenting of Johnny Hazan draw parallels between the stages of the maturing of grape juice into wine and the maturing of a boy into manhood.
The story begins with a married couple who adopt a male child they do not know was theirs-a child who was conceived during a one night stand which took place twol years before they married. The adopted boy's mother then treats him as "some rich man's bastard," and only discovers that he is her son when he is 22. The book ends with the boy's becoming a mature man who managed to mature his wretched childhood into the wine of that forgetfulness which leaving any childhood, good or bad, requires.
After thinking about how a novelist might best treat of the process of maturing into an adult non-academic-but not inaccurate-way, I visited Rob DeFord, the owner and vintner of a successful local winery in Maryland, (Boordy), and asked him if he thought that wine-making and successful parenting had much in common. He agreed enthusiastically that they did, and then proceeded to give me an afternoon-long master class in viticulture.
"Fermenting" presents the parallels between the mystery of grape juice becoming wine and a boy, Johnny, becoming an adult. I think this approach provides both a deeper, as well as more accurate, account of the strangeness of human maturing than the all-too-sober accounts found in academic journals and the popular press, or even many coming-of age novels being published today.
To my knowledge, there are no novels like this present one. I wrote it because I felt that America has begun to see that the Dr. Spock's of America take whining children and turns them into whining adults, and that children's maturing presents deeper problems and issues than our academics or psychiatrists can present in their writings. To quote James Q. Wilson, formerly a professor at Harvard and at UCLA, "Culture creates a problem for social scientists like me, however. We do not know how to study it in a way that produces hard numbers and tested theories. Culture is the realm of novelists and biographers, not of data-driven social scientists".
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