Shooting of Rabbit Wells by William Loizeaux
An American Tragedy

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Bill Loizeaux grew up in a pleasant little town in semirural New Jersey, in idyllic, gently rolling foothills. For Loizeaux, though, the communities of Bernardsville and Basking Ridge will always be remembered as the place where, in 1973, a shockingly bright and well-liked high school classmate named Rabbit Wells was shot to death by a policeman outside a bar where Wells was trying to help break up a fight. It is a simple, forgotten incident, only one of thousands upon thousands of senseless killings before and since. Yet for Loizeaux, it remains the turning point of his life."I am haunted by the hills of my youth," Loizeaux writes, "by what was right and what was wrong in the gentle lives we led there." He puts himself in Rabbit's head and retraces decades-old footsteps, imagining an older Rabbit, an upright pillar of the community; he invents situations that Wells could have lived and acts out the roles of the participants.Interviewing the man who killed Rabbit Wells, still a Bernardsville policeman, Loizeaux hopes that the cop will share his fervent belief that a full accounting of the incident, a "setting straight," is the only way to bury Rabbit properly and move on. This is a first-rate fiction built on a bedrock of fact, in which Loizeaux takes a simple story and asks us to believe and care about a young man whom no one ever got to know. --Tjames Madison

About William Loizeaux

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William Loizeaux is the author of another memoir, The Shooting of Rabbit Wells, short stories, essays, and two novels for young readers, Clarence Cochran, A Human Boy, and Wings, which received an ASPCA Henry Berg Children’s Book Award and was the 2006 Golden Kite Honor Book for Fiction. He has a second daughter, Emma, and lives with his wife, Beth, in Boston, where he is Writer in Residence at Boston University.
Published December 1, 1997 by Arcade Publishing. 272 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History. Non-fiction

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And while the transitory presence Wells had, even for those who became closest to him, understandably makes for a dearth of solid facts 25 years later, Loizeaux's rather flat novelistic reconstructions of speculative events become unwelcome as they mount up, repetitively signaled by phrases like ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Rabbit Wells was a mixed-race, 21-year-old bystander at a bar fight in 1973 when he was shot and killed by a police officer in Bernardsville, N.J. Loizeaux (Anna: A Daughter's Life), a high-school cla

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Publishers Weekly

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When interview subjects cast events and feelings in ways that fail to match his expectations, Loizeaux concludes that his subjects are probably repressing difficult truths and so creates his own interpretations of their words and emotions.

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