BOULDER - Adam Bradley was a freshman in college and taking an African-American literature course when he first read
Invisible Man, a novel that vivified America's racial divide.
The book changed his life.
Ralph Ellison's classic novel helped Bradley explore the complexity of his own biracial identity. It also shaped the
direction of his career, as Bradley became a writer and scholar - spending 15 years conducting the literary detective
work needed to bring Ellison's second novel to fruition.
Ellison's incomplete, posthumous piece Three days before the shooting ... : The unfinished second novel goes on sale
Bradley, a University of Colorado associate professor, is one of two editors who made the book's release possible. In
the book, a racist, white" U.S. senator is assassinated by a black man who, it turns out, is the senator's son. The
senator's surrogate father, who is black, tries in vain to save the senator.
I'm feeling this tremendous degree of excitement at the prospect of sharing this book with Ellison's readers," Bradley
Bradley said he's received e-mails from people who read Invisible Man in the 1950s and since have been waiting for a
second book from Ellison.
It's an important day for American literature," Bradley said.
He said because the novel is incomplete, it prompts readers to become co-creators of the fiction.
It's a natural response - when presented with an incomplete story - to complete the story yourselves," Bradley said.
At the same time, it presents another opportunity to come to terms with indeterminacy."
Later this year, Bradley will teach a CU graduate seminar about Ellison, and Yale University Press will publish Ralph
Ellison in Progress, his critical exploration of Ellison's fiction.
Ellison died in 1994, leaving behind 27 boxes of manuscript for his second novel that included handwritten notes,typewritten pages and more than 450 computer files.
Just two months before his death, Ellison told The New Yorker magazine he was working on the second novel and that
there will be something very soon."
As an undergraduate at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., Bradley became intrigued with Ellison, whose father
died when he was a child. A character in Invisible Man tells the protagonist: Be your own father, young man." The rich
theme of father-son relationships struck Bradley, who was raised by his white mother and met his black father for the
first time in his 20s.
Ellison was a clarifying voice for me during that part of my life," Bradley said.
His professor at Lewis & Clark - John Callahan - happened to be a friend of Ellison and executor of Ellison's
estate. Callahan, impressed with Bradley, asked him to co-edit the second novel.
At age 19, Bradley began cataloguing Ellison's writings. He earned a doctorate in English and American literature and
language from Harvard University before fully devoting himself to the project.
In 1999, Callahan released a small portion of Ellison's second novel in a work titled Juneteenth.
Today's release of Three Days before the Shooting ... will give readers their first view of the most complete and
cohesive version of Ellison's magnum opus.
The Boulder Bookstore on Pearl Street ordered a couple of copies of the $50 book, said head buyer Arsen
He said the book isn't garnering as much attention as Juneteenth.
I think it has a potential to become a big deal, though," Kashkashian said. It's a very interesting literary