Critical Reception

“This is the best book I’ve ever read.” James Adler

“One of the top five books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading.” Nathan Vetter

“David Vardeman’s prose bites. It bites, it claws, scratches and gnaws at our facade of normalcy, at our belief in superiority. It’s fresh. Surprising. It forces us to face the strangeness of the Other and see, by twist of nature, nurture, or quirk of fate, ourselves. Flawed. Absurd. The characters are strange, twisted, surreal, and more like us than we want to accept, for no matter how bizarre they appear, there is a despairing humanity there – and a great deal of humor — why else would we feel compelled to read. And as I turned the pages, story after strange and lovely story, I couldn’t help but imagine scenes from Waters, Cronenberg, and Lynch, with intimations of Beckett, Ionesco, Sarte, Burroughs and Kafka. These characters – Little Fur Baby, Poor Fat Jackie, Mr. “Pighead” Perlmutter, the Peroxide Bitches, Proust-obsessed Beryl Funk, or Mrs. “Spider” Box – they all dwell in a Vardemanian purgatory, a realm governed by bizarre logic, where God is distant, where this no longer follows from that, many seeking some form of redemption, like nasty Mrs Box in The Last Evil, suffering the horrific loss of self-identity, a literal body-snatching, or sad Patrice, disgraced nun of Tramp on the Street, who still talks to God and draws penguins.

Each story is unique, told in a fresh voice, all clearly residing in the only place that would have them, this one wonderful, eccentric universe of Vardeman’s design.” Michael Kuehn

So surreally honored to be recognized by one of my all-time favorite writers: “I have read Sea Above, Sun Below with great delight, find it ‘a cacophony of jubilation,’ and I love the boldness of Salis’ characters, his wit, and the dash of his writing. There is electricity on every page, reminding me of what Dr. Sam Johnson said of Dr. Birch, ‘As soon as he takes up his pen, it turns into a tornado.’” – Alexander Theroux, author of Darconville’s Cat and Laura Warholic

“Finished last night. All I can say is that I’m so glad that I was made aware of this book. Truly beautiful, personal and rewarding. And that this is his first book is even more impressive. I’m happy to have an author to follow. Yeah, we’ve read the classics and the masters but how many of them do we see and read from the start of their career. This is one. Read this book! A soon-to-be classic of American literature.” – Kevin Adams

“There are no boundaries between reality, the fantastic, and dreams, and this gives George Salis a lot of room for the poetic and mythical mode of writing, which he is clearly adept at. […] This is some grand, well-crafted prose. […] I cannot express how much symbolism there is, how much allusion is going on. This is a book that showcases a mind of great learning.” – Chris Via of Leaf by Leaf

“Of the growing body of Vietnam fiction, this book has to be one of the most bizarre literary responses to the war and one of the most damning indictments of the American sensibility responsible for that war.” Steven Moore

“Bursey’s most entertaining novel yet.” Steven Moore

“I’ve been thinking of what to say about a book that, as of this writing, has only 1 other review. First, that’s insanity. This is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever read. It’s moving, heartfelt and poignant. It’s funny as hell. I was blown away by its writing but I was moved by its honesty.

I love a number of things in my life but 3 of those things are 1) being a father 2) books and 3) baseball. I LOVE those things and that’s another set of reasons why I loved this book. I’ve watched Rick’s ‘Master Class in Fiction’ posts. I follow him on various social media outlets. His books are gorgeous pieces of literature. Walk Like a Duck is not only that but one of the best things I’ve ever read.

Rick literally walks us through that summer with his son and the Ducks. This is not a “look how amazing my son is” recap of his summer in little league. He’s honest. He gives us the skinny on everything about the team and league. He clearly knows his shit on baseball and he treats every single person he encounters with respect. Even bunting, well, maybe not. With brilliant chapters named: ‘Where is the Center Fielder?’, ‘Revisiting the WAR war’, ‘Death and Baseball’ and of course…’Bunt!.’ This is as much about his love of the game as it is about his love for his son, Arjun. It’s insanely moving and it sits alongside the great baseball writers (Roger Angell, Mike Sowell, Roger Kahn…).

Many thanks to Rick for writing this. It made this year and summer much better. Baseball is alive and well. Play ball. Read this. Enjoy.” Kevin Adams

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