"The Laws of Attraction" is Howard Reiss' third novel.
Howard Reiss' second novel, "The Year of Soup" was inspired by a dinner at a small restaurant in Northampton, Mass. when an old professorial looking gentlemen with a bottle of wine in a paper bag sat down at a table in the corner and was immediately joined by the young, female proprietor and chef. Although he couldn't hear their conversation, he tried to imagine it and their stories as well. This novel received the Silver Medal for Best Fiction in the North-East Region at the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013.
Howard Reiss' first novel, "A Family Institution," published in 2011, was based on a true incident involving the discovery of an aunt hidden from the family who spent most of her life in Pilgrim State Hospital. The main character's quest for the truth about what happened takes him to Pilgrim State where he takes a job in the records department, learns a lot about how the mentally ill and, in particular, his aunt was treated in the 1950s, and in the process turns his life and family upside down. It's a serious subject approached with a strong comic touch and has been a growing favorite of book clubs around the country.
Howard Reiss is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Columbia Law School. He won writing prizes at both institutions, but confined his creative energies for the first 25 years after graduation to designing greeting cards and writing songs for his wife and daughters on the guitar. He also wrote a law book, which sat proudly on his parents’ coffee table. Howard helped found a soup kitchen in Nyack, New York where he lives and runs, supports book publishers by buying more books than he can possibly find the time to read, and is somewhere north of 50.
A Family Institution
Based on an event from the author’s life, this is a story about an unusual mid-life crisis triggered by the discovery of an aunt who was mistreated for mental illness in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Coming to terms with his own family history leads to a journey of self-discovery that tests not only current relationships, but new ones as well. This novel about secrets and revenge is told with a comic touch and will have you reading until the wee hours of the morning.
The Year of Soup
At the age of 30, Tess has had three jobs and three significant relationships with two men and one woman – each lasting three years. Drifting through life, confused about her sexuality, Tess decides to live a life of celibacy and to open up a restaurant devoted to soup. Tess has a talent for making soups with strong medicinal and spiritual qualities – something passed down from her great-great grandmother, a descendant of one of the alleged Salem witches.
In the second week of the restaurant’s opening, an elderly professor of English, Roger Beanstock, comes in at closing time. Beany, haunted by his own past has lived a celibate life devoted to his work. He visits the restaurant every Thursday night for the next year to share soup and wine with Tess, which she calls the Year of Soup, before taking his life. Shortly after Beany’s death, Tess meets Jim at the restaurant, a furniture maker with his own reasons for keeping to himself. It is through a series of letters that “Beany” has left for Tess that she learns the truth about the Professor, is able to come to terms with her own sexuality, and discover Jim’s own tragic secret that will change both of their lives.
The Laws of Attraction
At 88-years old Ben Everett is killed by a loose truck tire that smashes into his windshield and his grieving family soon discovers that he has left his multi-million dollar estate to his new 24-year old wife, Susannah McCreedy. When the marriage and the will are challenged in court, Susannah claims to be the reincarnation of Ben’s first wife, Rose. This quickly hits the national wires and the small town of New City is turned into a circus with reporters, demonstrators, believers and non-believers jeering at each other across from the steps of the courthouse, and the trial takes on biblical proportions with testimony from an academic expert on reincarnation. A no nonsense judge, two zealous attorneys, including one who was himself the child of a May-December marriage, an old friend of Rose’s, Ben’s three sons, a small town jury and an old-time private investigator who scours the country searching for Susannah’s past make for a rather unusual and somewhat comical trial to determine whether there is indeed life after death.