Junior Travis Muir began writing his novel Thomasovitch, to be released in August by The American Book Press, shortly after arriving on campus freshman year. “I came here and was so excited, and fell in love with the place,” Muir said in a recent interview. “So I took that excitement and channeled it into the book.” A few months later, he had a draft. Over the summer he researched publishing companies outside of New York that might be willing to look at an unsolicited manuscript, and found The American Book Press, a small Utah-based company. “The writing process was really fun, so I figured, why not try to get it published?” Muir explains. “It was just the next logical step: why not throw it out there and see what I found?”
Muir, a history major, had not written much before – a short story, rejected by his high school literary magazine – and has never taken a creative writing course. Though he doesn’t see himself writing another book in the near future, he isn’t ruling it out. “I don’t see myself trying to be a writer and pay the bills that way,” he says. A history major, he hopes to work in politics or in some business or administrative capacity in Major League Soccer. “But if I feel I have something to say, I’ll say it.”
Thomasovitch follows the trajectory of Thomas Reed, first as a freshman at Princeton, popular, confident, and opposed to materialistic definitions of success, then as a man at the end of a career on Wall Street. The last section of the book returns to his senior year at Princeton and tries to pinpoint why he decided to follow a career path that he didn’t initially want. The novel deals with themes like parental pressure, and definitions of success – “what kind of life do you inherit,” Muir explains, and how does that affect where you end up? The preponderance of i-banking recruiters on campus may give the story special resonance for Princetonians, but Muir insists, “it’s not my opinion of Princeton or of kids here. Princeton was the setting because that’s where I was, and it’s easier to write about what I know.” – SARA MAYEUX
“Where should we go next?” a shout came from the right side of the line.
But Thomas had other ideas. He discarded the suggestions and, assuming his rightful place, said, “We’re going to Nassau Street.”
Knowing that there was nothing open on Nassau Street at that time of night, but also not knowing what exactly Thomas had in mind, the group dropped silent. They walked with him of course, not so much pulled along by his gripping arms as by the power of his heart propelling them forward like a rolling boulder.
The walk took a little longer than usual though, for a few stumblers had to be lifted up. Nevertheless, the bunch passed the library and the thick shrubs of the yellow house, marching side by side until they parked themselves in front of Nassau Hall.
“What are we gonna do here?”
There was a question.
But Thomas didn’t answer, for he was gazing up above the empty street at the green sign hanging over the intersection. “Nassau Street.”
Looking around, he saw all sorts of trash cans that were too short, trees which were too far from the middle of the road, and cars that were too parked to be of any service. However, he did find an alternative. On the other side of the green – about two hundred yards away – there was, parked and chained by a tree, a hard topped golf cart. Immediately heading over to it, Thomas formulated in his head an idea. Not exactly aware of what was going on, his friends followed him all the way to the end, and then stopped a few feet away. Proceeding towards the cart, Thomas inspected the security device, then turned and said, “Guys, we need to break this lock.”
“What are you trying to do Thomas?”
“Here, hand me that cinder block over there.”
In order to get to the cinder block, one of Thomas’s friends had to climb over the construction site security fence (they were cleaning the side of the building, presumably). However, it wasn’t strong enough to support his weight, as a real fence would have been, so, much to his dismay, as he reached the summit the entire fence collapsed underneath
him, sending him face first into the gravel. With half his friends behind him laughing and the other half glancing around nervously, the disheveled boy grabbed the block, stepped over the wrangled metal fence, and stumbled back to Thomas. With gritty hands he was wiping the dirt off of his face just as Thomas took the block back from him, and he was
still trying to clean his chin when he saw him smash it down on the cart’s lock. After three hits, the block split in half, but fortunately on that very try Thomas had broken the chain as well, freeing the cart from its post.
“Push it over to the sidewalk,” Thomas said.
United, the six were able to get quite a bit a speed behind the little cart, which was perhaps foolish, for they made quite a ruckus when it crashed headfirst into the wall by the street. Nevertheless, the place was deserted, so they were able to discretely push the cart through the gate (forgetting in their drunkenness that it was the gate only graduates were supposed to walk through), and then stopped and looked at Thomas for directions. Peering down both sides of Nassau, Thomas saw no cars, nor did he see any people around, so he led the cart out into the middle of the street, and then turned around to his face his fellows.
“Alright, here is what we are going to do. Madison, you climb on the roof of the cart, and then I’m going to get on your shoulders. A car might come, so we’d better hurry.”
Because they had to focus so readily on the task at hand, the cohorts did not stop to think precisely why Thomas would want to get on Madison’s shoulders on top of a golf cart in the middle of Nassau Street. It didn’t matter though, for they watched in silence as he pushed Madison onto the top of the cart, lifted his legs over his squatting shoulders, and then held on tight to his shirt as he stood up. On top of the four-foot cart and the six-foot kid, Thomas was able to reach it.
Madison whispered to him, “Thomas, whatever you’re doing, hurry, because I’m not that stable, and this car top is kind of slippery.”
“Shhh, just concentrate. So long as you don’t fall . . .”
So Madison stood there, stalk-still as a drunk boy could, while Thomas puzzled over his problem. The sign was bracketed to a pole hanging over the street, and Thomas had to find some way to yank it down. As he studied the fasteners, however, Madison’s face suddenly lit up with the bright lights of an oncoming car.
In panic he could do nothing else but fall flat from the roof of the cart, while alone in the void above Thomas instinctively grabbed the sign for balance. As his support slipped out from under him, he found himself clinging with both hands, suspended high above the street.
With a crash he fell suddenly, however, his weight ripping the connections from their moorings on the underside of the long bar, sending him bouncing off the top of the cart and onto the asphalt. Bracing himself against the fall, he leapt up quickly to see the oncoming car lights speeding toward him. Looking down, he saw the now freed sign was
loose in his hands.
The others, who had remained frozen, took off. The squad car blared its siren at the pandemonium as the boys scattered in all directions. Seeing that they had a head start, and that he would never be able to catch them, the policeman set his sights on the wavering, dazed figure clutching the sign. Though he slammed on the brakes, the car skidded a little on the wet pavement, and then slammed into the golf cart. Stopped thus, the policeman jumped out of the driver’s seat, bounded over the hood of the golf cart, and reached out to grab Thomas. Still holding the sign, Thomas leapt to his feet as the gloved fist came within inches of grabbing his arm. Faced with nothing but pure terror, he darted off down the street, fleeing wildly to escape the pursuit of the wide-brimmed cap only a few feet behind. The policeman’s club bounced uncomfortably against his leg as he ran, while the rough metal of the clutched sign cut into Thomas’s hands. Refusing to let go, he flew down Nassau towards the corner, made a sharp turn and then took off . . .