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SUNDAY STORY:Set in Newport Beach

Author Liam Callanan's fond memories of the city fill the pages of his second novel.

June 03, 2007|By Jessie Brunner

Writing from more than 2,000 miles away, Callanan relied heavily on the Internet and local contacts to garner the necessary details about the Newport Beach locale, visiting twice while on Thanksgiving vacation from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where he is an assistant professor of English.

"It was so cold where I was writing, and I think that made my descriptions of Newport Beach even more vivid," Callanan said, joking that he is waiting for global warming to turn Milwaukee into a "hot Riviera." "I could really imagine what the sunshine and the palm trees were like while I was freezing."

As recognized in the book's acknowledgments, Ed O' Sullivan of Newport Beach served as one of Callanan's geographers/historians. O'Sullivan formerly worked in a Los Angeles-based law firm with the author's father for many years.

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"He was asking me about various places on the island and on the peninsula, and I have some familiarity being that I've been a resident here for almost 40 years," O'Sullivan said. "It's going to be very interesting to read the book and get his take on the area."

Apparently, the Newport Beach setting has intrigued several other locals. The two copies of "All Saints" at the Newport Beach Central Library have been very popular since they were released and were waitlisted for several weeks, said librarian Mary Ellen Bowman.

"What is neat about his book is while you are reading it, you think, "I know where this place is,' " Bowman said. "It speaks to you personally, and I think the local element just adds to the joy of reading."

In addition to spotlighting area hotspots like the Wedge and Balboa Island's Marine Avenue, the novel gives a brief mention to St. John Vianney Chapel, the island's sole church.

Though it is only blocks from the heroine's home, she does not attend Mass there as it is "overrun with University of Southern California alumni and fans" who pray for victory during football season, according to the book's narrator.

The description is based on O'Sullivan's recollection of a time when the entire congregation stood and sang the university's fight song after winning a heated game against Notre Dame.

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