by A. B. Hollingsworth
With the surprising success of Flatbellies, the hardcover publisher requested a sequel – no easy task given that the finale of Flatbellies was a movie-ready ending, wherein the only reasonable addition would have been “happily ever after.” Nevertheless, writing under a contract (the most comfortable experience a novelist can have) that included softcover publication by W.W. Norton in New York, Dr. Hollingsworth finished the draft in one year, and University Boulevard was published in 2003.
With imperfect timing, hardcover publisher Sleeping Bear Press sold its assets to Clock Tower Press, which then went out of business, all occurring around the release date for University Boulevard. Propped up by the near-simultaneous release of the softcover edition from Norton, University Boulevard found a new audience as mainstream fiction, and for one weekend, was paired with Flatbellies at every check-out register in Barnes & Noble nationwide.
While Flatbellies had the carefree feeling of the pre-Vietnam era, University Boulevard took on different themes, as the author tried to capture the darker mood of the nation after the protest movements brought the Vietnam War to the forefront (1967 in Oklahoma). Too, Hollingsworth wanted to write a fraternity novel with a more serious side than the typical “Animal House” story. To that end, the novel explores the emotional and philosophic crises that can occur for some people early in life, in their first experience living away from home.
Professional authors and writing critics heaped more praise on University Boulevard than Flatbellies, though the reading public favored the latter. University Boulevard was named as a Finalist in the “Oklahoma Reads Oklahoma” competition held during the Centennial Celebration of statehood in 2007. Today, both books are still available, and University Boulevard can be read as a stand-alone work, independent of Flatbellies.