Work 1 - Description
FROM THE SERPENT PAPERS PRESS RELEASE:
Columbia University alumnus, Jeff Schnader’s debut novel, The Serpent Papers (The Permanent Press: March 1, 2022), a work of historical fiction, will be released just in time to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the April 1972 marches, building take-overs, riots at Columbia University that suspended classes after the University summoned the police to remove the protesting students. Set on the tumultuous 1972 Columbia University campus during the time of nationwide demonstrations against the Vietnam War, The Serpent Papers is the first book of any kind written about the protests and is based on the real-life experiences of a participant and witness to the events of the era.
The Serpent Papers is the story of J-Bee, raised in the violent world of the 1960s, who chooses to matriculate at Columbia in 1971 rather than join the military. A Southern boy who comes from a conservative Catholic military family, J-Bee exemplifies the struggles of his generation and the challenges they faced balancing patriotism with a rejection of the war.
When he arrives at university, he is immediately thrust into the anti-war atmosphere and becomes ideologically trapped between supporting his best friend, who is fighting overseas in Vietnam, and the anti-war cauldron of culture and protest at Columbia. When the moral quandary of an escalating war comes to a head and with his own conscience and the conscience of the nation on his mind, ratcheting tensions and bullhorns incite students to protest, and pro-war and anti-war factions collide in campus riots forcing J-Bee to make the decision that defines his life.
The mysterious “Serpent” is an invisible voice that emerges from behind a screen in a basement café in the crypt of an on-campus chapel. Labeled the “patron saint of The Apocalypse,” the Serpent urges the students to act on their consciences. In this coming-of-age story, the Serpent is the personification of the political ideals of the age.
Schnader, a graduate of the Columbia College class of 1975 and retired full professor from Eastern Virginia Medical College, participated in sit-ins, marches and protests, including the April 25, 1972 riot in front of Hamilton Hall where 1000 students were beaten by hundreds New York City Tactical Police in full battle regalia. J-Bee’s story mirrors Schnader’s life and follows the events of the time by telling the authentic story of what students lived through.
For the Vietnam War generation, the war is still the defining event of their lives and rivets their interest; it created a generational rift between those who fought and those who protested, a rift which this novel aims to heal. The book also features three murders along with a vividly accurate portrayal of 1970s counterculture.
Although not a true memoir, The Serpent Papers reads like one.