Posted on Thursday, July 31, 2014
Thomas C. Greene ‘93, president of Vermont College of Fine Arts, has published his fourth novel, "The Headmaster's Wife" (Thomas Dunne Books and St. Martin's Press). Inspired by the loss of his infant daughter, Greene explores the way that tragedy and time assail one man's memories of his life and loves.
The novel explores the life of Arthur Winthrop, headmaster of Vermont's elite Lancaster School. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell police about Lancaster School, the place that has given him his life and is also the site of his undoing. His memories collide into one another and the true nature of things- a narrative of love, of marriage, of family, and of a tragedy emerges.
"A truly remarkable novel, I read the second half of The Headmaster's Wife with my mouth open, my jaw having dropped at the end of the first half," wrote Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize winning author of "Empire Falls." He added, "Greene knows how to hook a reader and land him."
Greene is also the author of three other novels. In "Mirror Lake" (2003) Nathan, a young man who just lost his father, loses control of his car and drives off the side of the road. Wallace, an older man, nurses him back to health and, while doing so, begins telling his story - a love story filled with passion, obsession and tragedy. Suspecting that Wallace is not telling him the whole truth, Nathan sets out to discover for himself what happened 50 years before.
"I'll Never Be Long Gone" (2005) explores the journey of two brothers whose lives are changed forever when their father commits suicide and bequeaths the family restaurant to only one brother, leaving the other brother instructions to follow his own path.
His 2007 novel "Envious Moon" depicts the life of Anthony Lopes who gets himself into trouble after deciding to rob a house with his best friend. During the robbery, Anthony is hypnotized by a young woman's silhouette at the top of the stairs and doesn't see her father crouched in the darkness. In the struggle, the man falls from the staircase and is killed. Filled with remorse, Anthony becomes obsessed with the girl and begins an all-consuming odyssey to earn her forgiveness and convince her of his love.
Greene's fiction has been translated into 11 languages and has found a worldwide following. His writing has been called "incandescent" and "poetic" and has been nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.
In 2006, Greene was asked to lead one of the MFA programs at Vermont College where he had graduated from and had previously served as a senior administrator. Shortly thereafter, the university that owned the campus announced that the campus was for sale to developers and the three nationally acclaimed MFA programs were in danger of closing.
Greene mobilized the college and larger central Vermont communities to create a non-profit that could buy the campus and the three academic programs. In two years, Greene with his business partner, Bill Kaplan, raised $13.5 million in capital, built a national board of trustees, and developed a strategic plan and an infrastructure to manage and run a new academic entity. On June 23, 2008, Vermont College of Fine Arts became the first new college in Vermont in more than 30 years. Greene was named the college's founding president, a position in which he still serves today.
Born and raised in Worcester, Mass., Green earned his MFA in writing from the former Vermont College. He has had a wide range of jobs, including oyster shucker, pizza delivery person, and working on the line in a staple factory, before serving as a deputy press secretary for a presidential campaign, the director of public affairs for two universities and as a professor of writing and literature. He earned his B.A. in English from Hobart College, where he was the Milton Haight Turk Scholar. Greene now resides in Montpelier, Vt. with his wife and daughter.