Debut novel by Matthew Gallaway '95 praised in New York Times

Matthew GallawayMatthew Gallaway ’95, whose book, The Metropolis Case, was published in December, received what few first-time novelists dare to hope for: a glowing New York Times review.

“The book is so well written—there’s hardly a lazy sentence here—and filled with such memorable lead and supporting players that it quickly absorbs you into its worlds,” wrote Scott Timberg in the December 27 edition. Timberg added, “The relationship between art and life is a hoary theme, yet Mr. Gallaway breathes new life into it.... It makes you wonder what Mr. Gallaway, who manages to inhabit so many different worlds, real and otherwise, convincingly in fewer than 400 pages, will pull off next.”

What’s next, Gallaway says, is a novel about a corporate environment in hard economic times—not an untimely topic, partially inspired by the tedious-workplace theme of David Foster Wallace’s as-yet-unreleased final book. The theme is in sharp contrast, however, to that of The Metropolis Case, which features a varied cast of characters in storylines occurring not just in modern-day New York and Pittsburgh but also in 19th-century Europe. The unifying element: opera. (The author is a big fan.)
Gallaway, now senior acquisitions editor in Oxford University Press’s law division, has a longstanding interest in music of all kinds. After graduating from NYU Law, Gallaway toured for several years as the guitarist for Saturnine, an indie rock band, and worked in a record store before entering the legal publishing world. He was a senior developmental editor at Wolters Kluwer Law & Business prior to his current position at Oxford University Press. Among his instructors at NYU Law were Dean Emeritus John Sexton, Benjamin F. Butler Professor of Law, who taught him Civil Procedure, and Harry First, Charles L. Denison Professor of Law, with whom Gallaway took three classes and a seminar, all related to antitrust and white-collar crime. 

Words have always been important to Gallaway. “Studying law, because it’s so language-based, teaches you to be a very careful writer and thinker,” he says. “That’s very important for any kind of writing, whether it’s creative or writing a brief or a research memo. The legal field is an intellectual one, and there’s often not a big dividing line between, say, literature and studying law.” In a nod to Gallaway’s vocational background, one of the novel’s main characters is a New York attorney.

Gallaway found further inspiration in the ever-evolving blogging world. “Some of my prose heroes are still people who really made their names in the blogosphere,” he said. “There’s so much great language to be discovered.”

The eclecticism of his influences—opera, indie rock, the law, blogging, a love of travel—is central to Gallaway’s work: “There’s no real need to make these arbitrary distinctions between high art and low art. It all falls on a continuum.”

Posted on January 10, 2011