Hello, dear prospective reader! Or perhaps dear curious person who happened to type in the URL at the bottom of a cool-looking card that you picked up at Unsolicited Press‘s table from the Portland Bookfest. I don’t know who you are or how you actually came upon this page, but welcome!
So…what is Lines? It is a novel. And it is due out on October 29, 2024. That is a long time from now, but as we all know, time flies, and in a blink that faraway date will be upon us. A little before then, you’ll be able to put in an order for it, but right now, it’s too soon. But let me bend your ear and tell you about this book, since you’re here anyway.
First, the front cover:
This is my fifth novel, and without a doubt it is my most favorite cover. The artist is Jun Cen, an illustrator who’s been there and done that and then some (he drew the artwork for one of my New York Times essays). What I love most is that black square smack the middle. That negative space really draws your attention, doesn’t it? What does it mean, especially because it looks like the two people there, the man on the left and the woman on the right, are about to meet?
Or do they?
Below, the teaser for Lines.
On a foggy morning in New York City, a man and a woman are about to run into each other, literally. Upon impact, they fall to the ground in an instinctually protective hug. The fog dissipates, and they stare into each other’s eyes in disbelief, at the sheer magnitude of their bodily collision and their subsequent, spontaneous coupling. They laugh. The man, a writer, invites the woman, an artist, for coffee and they talk until lunch. They date. They fall in love, hard. They marry just two months later. And four years later, their marriage is on the precipice of disaster.
On a foggy morning in New York City, the same man and woman pass through the fog, oblivious of each other’s existence. Until five years later, when the writer finds an oval-shaped locket no bigger than his thumbnail, a tiny white dress painted within the boundary of its golden border.
Lines is about possibilities, about the choices we make – or fail to make. It’s a star-crossed love story; it’s a bitter tragedy. It’s about Josh and Abby and their intertwined lives, together and apart, through births and deaths and the beautiful mess in between.
And now here’s the copy that was sent around when I was trying to sell the book:
Meet Josh: a corporate drone/struggling novelist who’s just turned forty. Meet Abby: a painter of tiny paintings who’s about to find out she’s pregnant. On a foggy Saturday morning in the city of New York, these two people are about to run into each other…or not?
Lines is a novel depicting parallel lives of Joshua Kozlov and Abby Kim. In one line (“Apart”), they are in relationships with other people (Marlene for Josh, Ted for Abby). In another line (“Together”), Joshua and Abby are married but Marlene and Ted circle their respective orbits (Joshua and Marlene work for the same company; Abby and Ted share an office). The twin narratives move linearly and the two lines often dovetail into each other, in surprising/contrasting ways (i.e., Abby becomes pregnant in both lines, to very different effects). The setting is current, the locations suburban New Jersey and New York City. Roughly nine months pass in about 80K words.
If I still have your attention, and I hope I do, then please, do one of the following.
1. Enter your info for my extremely occasional newsletter. So occasional that I’ve sent out a total of two missives so far…in its entire history. It’s kind of sad that I have sent out less newsletters than I have written books, but there you go. I can guarantee you that you will not hear from me often.
2. If adding your email is TMI (Too Much Information, for those not into acronyms), you can follow me on:
- X (a.k.a., the website formerly known as Twitter when it wasn’t owned by a billionaire megalomaniac who also makes beautiful cars and shoots off rockets into space)
But I do hope you choose to join my newsletter, because then you can join my friends and family — I’m fairly certain 95% of them are exactly that. So who knows, you may even get a holiday card? You never know. (Actually, you won’t, because I still send out physical cards and I don’t have your mailing address!)
Wait, I almost forgot — maybe I’ve buried the lede — here are three writers way more successful than I am who were kind enough to say nice things about the final draft of Lines.
“With its star-crossed lovers and fickle downtown art scene, Lines is a sweet, sharp-eyed New York fairytale bound to appeal to fans of smart romantic comedies. While Sung J. Woo’s deft use of his fugue structure will remind readers of Sliding Doors, his feel for Josh and Abby as they navigate their many missed connections recalls the pure, exalted yearning of Haruki Murakami.”
—Stewart O’Nan, author of Ocean State and Last Night at the Lobster
“A thoughtful exploration of the choices we make, and how one chance meeting (or lack thereof) can change your life in complicated and unexpected ways. Smart and meticulously crafted, Lines is a story that will stay with me long after finishing the last page.”
—Brenda Janowitz, author of The Liz Taylor Ring and The Grace Kelly Dress
“A witty, observant, exhilarating pleasure, with much to teach us about the complexities of loving and the complexities of living a life devoted to art.”
—Brian Morton, author of Starting Out in the Evening and Florence Gordon
They wrote that regarding my final draft — can you imagine what they’d say about the actual, finished book? I think they may be so awesomely thunderstruck that they’d be left speechless.
One last thing, which also may be the most important thing of all. If you did indeed pick up one of those cards I mentioned all the way at the beginning of this post, your eyes no doubt marveled at the tiny circular paintings on front and back. They are by none other than Dina Brodsky. In the paperback edition, those paintings will appear on the inside front and back covers, closer to their actual size than on the card. In the limited hardcover edition, the card you are holding will be included so you won’t miss out on their full-color beauty. These paintings are the backbone of this novel — they are so integral to the book that I’m not exaggerating when I say that Lines would not exist without Dina’s paintings.
Okay, you can now unbend your ear. I’m sorry for bending it all this time. Thank you for listening.
– Sung, 10/31/2023
p.s. One last ear bend! The title of the book means many things, but one thing for sure is that it is a reference to Katie Herzig’s song “Lines.” The epigraph of the novel is this very song. ❤️