If there was an alternative universe in Buffalo, the author of “City of Blight” might have found it. John Wingspread Howell has written a novel (his third book) that places this city in the midst of turmoil… kinda like it was thirty years ago. But instead of rising, the book showcases a city that continues to spiral downward, steeped in political turmoil, corruption, sex scandals, and the like.
“‘City of Blight’ is a sort of Sopranos meets House of Cards on a local city level, with a great love story thrown in,” said the author. “There is political intrigue, conspiracy, psychological complexity and a story of lifelong — though mostly unrequited — love.”
Like Howell, the lead character of the novel, Paul Cappellano, returns to Buffalo after decades of being away. Cappellano returns to for a couple of reasons. He could never get Buffalo out of his mind, nor his ex love interest – former City Queen aka Miss Buffalo.
Before long, Cappellano finds himself surrounded by controversy as he is framed for the murder of a corrupt politician. So he hires a high profile lawyer to fight for justice – the lawyer proceeds to head down the rabbit hole of political corruption. The press gets wind of the stories that are dug up, and madness ensues.
How far will all of this go? Who will make it out unscathed, or alive for that matter? If you think about it for a hot second, this fictional story is not so farfetched when you consider all of the rumors that have surrounded City Hall over the years. Had Buffalo continued on its downward trajectory, there surely would have been a variety of undesirable characters floating around, just waiting to take advantage of the ineptitude of government officials.
Of course, this is written with good natured fun, but it’s kind of interesting to think about this alternative universe that Howell has conjured up. Now, instead of simply dreaming up the crazy circumstances and the unpredictable outcomes, all we have to do is pick up a copy of City of Blight.
Howell will take part in “Writing for Buffalo: Local Authors and Local Stories,” from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. March 8 in Larkin Square, Buffalo. Please visit larkinsquare.com/author-series for details. For more information on No Frills Buffalo publishing, please visit www.nfbpublishing.com. You can also follow No Frills Buffalo on Facebook for frequent updates.