In the vel, the first-person narrator lives near the Mohawk River in upstate New York during the 1950's, '60's, '70's, and '80's. He tells a series of related stories about what he threw into the river and why. The first story concerns an incident that occurs when the narrator is four years old, and the final story occurs in 1988 when he is 37. That final story is the most dramatic of all, takes up 50% of the vel, and is based on a real incident.
Since January of 2000, Jim LaBate has worked as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York. Originally from Amsterdam, New York, Jim graduated from Saint Mary's Institute and Bishop Scully High School. He earned his bachelor's degree in English from Siena College in Loudonville, New York, and his master's degree, also in English, from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York. Jim has spent his entire career as either a teacher or a writer. He taught physical education as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Golfito, Costa Rica for two years. He taught high-school English for ten years (one year at Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York, and nine years at Keveny Memorial Acadmey in Cohoes, New York). Then, he worked for ten years as a writer for Newkirk Products in Albany, New York. Jim lives in Clifton Park, New York, with his wife, Barbara, and their two daughters: Maria and Katrina.