To order, send an email to email@example.com and let Rick know which books you would like, along with your mailing address. We still use paypal.
The Catalogue is arranged mostly in chronic order of logic, temporally, with some exceptions. Lacking the facile organization of a fine web page, we nonetheless consider this arrangement beneficial in that it exceeds reasonable expectations based on our talents, with the bonus that the book covers are generally lovely works of art in themselves, if not actual reproductions of works of art with our titles printed on them. Thanks you for your attentions.
Rick Harsch, Chief editor
Oskar Submerges, by Zachary Tanner
Pocket book, 527 pages, 10€ only
The Wolf Leaps, by Chandler Brossard (Originally published in 1973 as Did Christ Make Love?)
With an introduction by Zachary Tanner and a previously-unpublished 20-year-old foreword by Steven Moore
pocket book, 142 pages, 10€
Letters of Thanks from Hell, a play by David Vardeman
10€ 186 pages pocket book
The Appearance of Death to a Hindu Woman, by Rick Harsch
10€ 376 pages pocket book
Bedraggling Grandma with Russian Snow, by Joao Reis
10€ 220 pages, pocket books
Wandering Stone, the Streets of Old Izola
10€ 216 pages, 275 black and white photographs Pocket book
an impalpable certain rest, stories by Jeff Bursey
pocket book, 10€, 318 pages
She Sange to Them, She Sang
pocket book, 10€, 425 pages
The wait for this highly anticipated cult book is now over, yours to enjoy!
Here’s what Steven Moore says:
“Written and illustrated during the final months of the Trump presidency, America and the Cult of the Cactus Boots: A Diagnostic transmogrifies that bizarre period into a dystopian fantasy about what might have happened had Trump and his totalitarian troglodytes triumphed. Metafictionally calling itself an “unreal, esoteric, exotic, metaphysical adventure,” the novel features three talented rebels—the author, the illustrator, and the publisher—who defend independent, nonconformist thinking against an Orwellian war against the written word by way of superfetatious prose, sci-fi/occult tropes, Pynchonesque/Wallacian erudition, psychedelic excursions, and postmodern pyrotechnics. Going to absurdist lengths to dramatize the liberating effects of creative thought, the novel also demonstrates the power of the right book arriving at the right time to change one’s life. Recommended if you like Burroughs’s Sixties novels, Brossard’s freak-show epics, Robert Anton Wilson’s trilogies, and/or Mark Leyner’s fiction.”
America and the Cult of the Cactus Boots: A Diagnostic – by Phillip Freedenberg, illustrated by Jeff Walton
600 pages, 20€ + Shipping Send email to (firstname.lastname@example.org)
As The Wolf Howls at My Door, by Chandler Brossard, large paperback reproduction of the Dalkey Archive original, liner notes by Steven Moore, back blurbery by Brossard.
476 pages, 20€
c\s’s first large print book, this is An Angel of Sodom, alone, without the 13 stories that supplement the other volume, as increasing the print size nearly doubles the length of the singular sorrowful, funny examination of…rotten luck?
10€, 190 pages
The Assassination of Olof Palme, an anthological novel, vol. 2; by Rick Harsch et al., 356 pages, 10€
A Circumnavigation through Maritime History, by Rick Harsch, 390 pages, illustrated, pocket book, 10€
Tendrilopolis, by Vesna Radić, 80 pages, illustrated, pocket book
WAKE UP. WE’RE ALMOST THERE
Large paperback reproduction of the original hardcover, 540 pp., 20€
Introduction by Zachary Tanner
Zen and the Art of Buggery
by Zachary Tanner
“I’m not sure that it’s even fair to ask you to write a foreward, introduction, or whatever, because I would not want to put what I experience with Brossard into words, you know, uh (long drag of a cigarette), be like (sip of coffee), like fucking someone who’s telling you as you’re going along what you’re feeling and why.”
It is no coincidence that I share a first name with the bearded Zen master of Wake Up. We’re Almost There, as you are he, as you are me, and we are Chandler all together, constantly falling into and out of the abyss of one another’s “eternal and fathomless” human consciousness. Zachary (I, you, he, she, we, they) reminds his pupils “the mind flows out as it naturally enters into contact with any environment” and we’ve all been ruined by “Aristotelian logic…Everybody except April.” Who’s April? The most notorious vixen since Juliette for one, but, more pertinently, a single player in a bizarre troupe of Everymen conspiring over 500-some-odd pages in the grand delusion of staging reality by the magic of sensual clairvoyance and osmotic kinesics. As the novelist-within-the-novel George says “I am someone else, or several people as we go on, and boy do we go on.”
Next year will mark 50 years since the first hardcover edition of Wake Up (Richard W. Baron, 1971) and 49 years since the last paperback edition (Harrow, 1972). You may wonder: why have I never read this book? Why did it take the Great Anti-American Novel a half-century to be repatriated by an infinitesimal nonprofit press in Slovenia?
Part of it is retaliatory suppression by a gatekeeper from the New School.1 In April, 1971, Anatole Broyard, Brossard’s former friend and lifelong literary nemesis, published an obscene review of Wake Up in The New York Times titled “A truly bad book just doesn’t happen.”2 The review opens “Here’s a book so transcendently bad it makes us fear not only for the condition of the novel in this country, but for the country itself.” What a preposterous sentiment! Surely by 1971 any decent American citizen was beyond zeitgeist crisis and had personalized the horror, wondering: how-the-fuck-do-I-get-out-of-this-filthy-wasteland? The prudish review complains of the novel as “sexual circus,” of its “revolutionary rhetoric,” and “well over 500 pages of copulation, cunnilingus, and fellatio.” Call me pervy, but I’ve never read a negative review that buttered me up quite like this one. Have I been desensitized by too many dirty French books with talking cunts and naughty frontispieces? Perhaps. Later, Broyard is also quite humorously baffled by the “indiscriminate couplings” of Brossard’s prosody and gives four examples of befuddling language some of us would call poetry, the set of which Steven Moore later reclaimed as synesthetic Zen koans.3 The coup de grâce is in the penultimate paragraph when the Broyard invalidates not only himself but the entire ass-wipe publication in dismissively lumping Wake Up together with Joyce, Céline, Genet, Henry Miller, Günter Grass, Thomas Pynchon, and John Barth. A stacked roster, to be sure. Anybody whose home library contained even worn paperbacks of these works would be a fast friend of mine, but more likely a reader who has heard of any of these authors has a few HCDJs from each. How unfortunate that even in 2020 such dreamboat intellectuals are less common than flat-earthers. What is more, Broyard fails to note the Marquis de Sade (who is mentioned more than once in the text) or Marguerite Young, their Greenwich Village contemporary whose landmark Miss MacIntosh, My Darling (Scribner’s, 1965) is equally dense, phantasmagoric, and forgotten. Two years after Wake Up, when Brossard published his manifesto distinguishing “literature” from “fabulous fiction,” a public indictment of the rampant fraudulence of the mod-lit scene, he aligns himself no less with Homer, Hugo, Melville, Proust, Queneau, Jünger, Kafka, and Musil, among others.4 It also calls to my mind Nabokov’s transgressive masterpiece Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (McGraw Hill, 1969), or the 8mm mud shark pornos and monster dicks of The Mothers’ Fillmore East – June 1971, though it seems unlikely Broyard would have been loose enough to enjoy either of those. Nor could he have known that the Nazi orgies in this transcendent doorstopper predate those in the National Book Award-winning Gravity’s Rainbow (Viking, 1973) by two years and the complex sociological motion of McElroy’s Women and Men (Knopf, 1987) by sixteen. Sadly, not everyone shares Brossard’s (and my) contempt for conventionality, and the review virtually banished the dear author to the Borgesian labyrinth of little presses.
But finally, itis coming back across the Atlantic in a paperback reproduction of the original hardcover of the first edition in all its sic glory, as if via wormhole from an alternate, utopian reality without copy editors or record company tycoons in which the Grateful Dead were actually able to title their second live double album Skull-fuck.5
But Wake Up is more than the masterpiece that the counterculture forgot. What better time than now to bathe in its “indifference to difference.” Here’s a book for anyone with a respectable amount of self-contempt. It is a tool, like the I Ching or a tarot deck, to free your mind from “the shit of the bourgeois world.” It is an escape from the cultural diarrhea of the “Zonk box” in which the reader-participant is welcomed on equal footing as an intellectual and a compassionate human being. Dream with me, Brossard screams through his characters, and together we can subvert society for its lack of love. Rim jobs can save the western world! Leave behind this “Cannibalistic inhuman culture where the kids are brought up to hustle each other and real human emotion and contact are regarded as some awful disease that must be stamped out by crash programs to develop a vaccine against it if life is to be lived to a ripe age. Even sex, that ultimate diamond, is tarnished into human commercialism and thus is turned into a crummy zircon to be worn around the ankle.” Remember the “first law of humankind…We are all each other, floating in and out of each other’s dreams and fantasies and everyday acts even the most intimate moments being crowded with dozens of others. No man is alone. If that cat only knew the half of it! I have been Hector on the Trojan barricades and will be the first woman on the moon, four months gone with a homosexual night club singer. Moonblood, moonooze. Not an artichoke here that doesn’t call me by my first name!”
Sheer need drives multiple claims of an affinity for Bosch, but here we have a book that is actually worthy of its several allusions to the infernal visionary. They may “want to obliterate your infinity,” but don’t fret, for you are “as free as your own imagination and circumstances allow you.” Refuse to be a victim “of other people’s hallucinations!” If you have sought and failed to find satori in meditation, yoga, or the controlled use of psychedelics drugs, return to this sublime penny arcade of the psychoses of western civilization, and the next time you feel inclined to fold in on yourself and spew hatred, pick up Brossard instead and learn to laugh, as Shakespeare taught you to quip, Burton to ruminate, and Proust to remember.
- To read the story as told by Brossard, see his essay “Tentative Visits to the Cemetery: Reflections on My Beat Generation” in The Review of Contemporary Fiction; Volume 7, Number 1; Spring 1987: Chandler Brossard Number. This issue also features a number of illuminating essays on the early, steal-the-bread-from-your-dinner-table Village Brossard, an interview with the author conducted by Steven Moore in the summer of 1985, and Moore’s indispensable “Chandler Brossard: An Introduction and Checklist,” required reading for future Chandler groupies that features quite possibly the only fair criticism of Wake Up ever written. For those without a university library, the essay was reprinted in My Back Pages: Reviews and Essays (Zerogram Press, 2017) and the interview is available at https://www.dalkeyarchive.com/a-conversation-with-chandler-brossard-by-steven-moore/.
- Anatole Broyard, “A truly bad book just doesn’t happen,” Review of Wake Up. We’re Almost There, by Chandler Brossard, The New York Times Print Edition (April 4, 1971): Section BR, Page 51. https://www.nytimes.com/1971/04/04/archives/wake-up-were-almost-there-by-chandler-brossard-540-pp-new-york.html
- See “Chandler Brossard: An Introduction and Checklist.”
- “Commentary (Vituperative): The Fiction Scene” Harper’s 244 (June 1972): 106-110.
- Phil Lesh, Searching for the Sound (Little Brown, 2007), 196.
The Assassination of Olof Palme, an anthological novel by Rick Harsch et al., vol. 1
10€, 348 pages, flaps, holmen paper
The first of two volumes, this books is best described by an introduction that’s in the book. It’s called a prologue because there is already a preface, a preratta, and the whole of the following text is an introduction:
Despite clear evidence that humans have been a rather grand evolutionary mistake, an oblivial force dwells within that reminds us daily that this could have been a finer existence, if still dreadfully short. Like the rare daguan that survives only around one or two small islands near New Guinea that’s ultimate demise was the concoct of desperate botch that led to its summit as a creature (100s of thousands of years ago) coinciding with the development of something very much like a rudimentary lung that weakens imperceptibly with time such that its doom is built in, and yet its tail fin and webbed hinders are of daily benefit, I am sure that whatever moves us to write is connected to some similarly accidental evolutionary neither here nor there, call it that oblivial force, which hasn’t the slightest capacity to thwart that within us that has—inevitably—led to our negation of ourselves, that which has created the mitigated yet triumphant dystopia, the ugliness that saturates the world of the gasping human, now a bottom feeder and a fluke, big oddfish in a small pinguid puddle in a sink slunked in a lavaic asphalt parking lot where the two survive in a biological buddy system genius desperado artifice akin to the retreat of the species to a single cell. Sooner or later the last pair will be blown from one of these unparked lot seagull deadzones by an executive, a subman, wearing a suit no different from what hangs like reality in closets throughout the monied kingdom. He will use a sawed off shotgun. If I can believe this without contortions of my being, it is quite likely that I am not alone, and if I am not alone, that howling noise is neither wind nor wolf but the cry of the artist for sane company. Thus I account for my optimism despite the quotidian wallops and insults suffered from the acts of my fellow gregarians.
This book, like many others I have written, began as a certainty without precise contours. Sometimes the books I write begin as certainties without need for contours, the words pushing like manic sperm to explode toward a fracas of infinite eggs. Not this time. In fact, this time my conception was a new species, and as I wrote early on I experienced the strange paradox of knowing less about the creature the more I explored its scales and depth. Never mind why just now that in a book that was certainly going to be called The Assassination of Olof Palme, I was going to write the character Moe Berg, lousy hitter, great linguist, OSS spy in Yugoslavia, follow him to Zurich, where he was in shared history sent to assassinate Werner Heisenberg if during a talk there Heisenberg gave the slightest indication that the Germans were nearing completion of an atomic bomb. Berg was met, provided a pistol and cyanide pill. Nothing came of it. This was the turn in the tunnel system. I could find nothing on the actual speech that Heisenberg gave, but I felt it was more important than any other part of this story, and not only that, I soon knew that Heisenberg’s speech was not about physics or atomic matters of any kind, that in fact he had given a speech about the Zoot Suit Riots in LA the summer previous. No one knows how writers know these things. But that is hardly a breakthrough. The actual path toward fresh air and light was my immediate understanding that Sesshu Foster, a writer from Los Angeles, was the perfect person to write Heisenberg’s speech. That was the birth of this anthological novel.
Had the world I have been writing in been micro-managed by the very same forces that have made of writing a commodified, grotesque, self-distortional nightmare, the project that is the inevitable result of an honest response to a welcome intrusion would have been immediately aborted. But such are the wilds in which we ramble that many of us writers have found comfort in incorruptibility, the infinitude of paths available away from the nightmare pyramid endlessly fascinating, our own recurrent nightmares of screaming figures falling against the legal statutes of physics out from the lower levels of the pyramid to their relatively rapid deaths mere bloodbursts of what must be back there, and found the womb of obscurity as fructiferous as the Amazon used to be. Dreaming of burst capillaries and skullpops we awaken sustained.
Indeed, why in the millennia of human endeavor, on an earth entuned by such anthropics as south Indian gopurams, did the act of creating art through the act of writing communally never become even a fragment of an assertion of human oblivial force? In deadly tubelight poisons flourish, yet alchemy has ever been the individual’s dungeoned failure. The human being has never lacked for imagination: ipso facto, we have no answer but the accumulate allergy that spread violence into the fear of inspiration. Writing communally became as welcome as bare balls and labia at the altar. Woe betide that species that first silenced a fart. The fatal contradiction: the panicked need to improve that which is not first understood.
I did not mention that this novel is autobiographical, lest you suffer that uniquely human discomfort that precedes suicide of the other. The human species is yet again distinct in that it prefers murder to suicide. To any other animal, suicide is but attempted murder. So steady now. Step back from my ledge. The narrator is already an imposter. Woe to the reader who believes in the writer, particularly the marriage of narrator and writer. This narrator, to refrain from combobulatorian assertion, not to say rampant egomania, has no idea who is narrating his novels. Trapped in the tripe of a trilogy, lest I trip in the third headlong into a fourth, I once killed Rick Harsch to ensure the end of the sequence. How important it is to despise sequentials! Little did I know how badly I would need that same Rick Harsch for my autobiographical novel. This opens with his revival. Or would have, had it not been condemned by that relentless circle surrounding the autobiographer, his family, before I could get one eye out of the womb. So, then, early on, he is revived. He was a good sport—which is perhaps to be the expected outcome, we agree on so many things. Most important, I suppose, is that we agree that autobiographical is a complex field of fiction, involving far more of what we did not directly experience than that which we did. The most pregnant example is the effect on my life of the Frail Nancy, wife of Ronald Reagan, whose existence did as much as any to affect this life I am about to recount. For without Reagan, not at all to underscore the great man theory of history if that isn’t obvious, my life would have not Oliver North, Al Secord, artificial daisies, gutters running along cities under hills, daily weather reports of plumes of gaseous disgust when no sane feller would venture out of doors. Yet Reagan was very much a product of what was diagnosed by C. Wright Mills, what was generated by the victorious oligarchs after World War II, and so not only did my life have to endure victory laps following on amorals in defeat, I had to suffer the knowledge of secret anti-communist cells that committed such atrocities as providing fascists in Italy with C-4 explosives and sheltering Klaus Barbie before ushering him by ratline out of Europe that he might live free another 37 years after his butcheries in Lyon.
That’s to provide some notion of what kind of autobiography is in store for the readers, bringing us to the question of method. If I am right, fiction is no longer welcome in Tuscaloosa elite reading clubs if it is not of Menippean satirical nature. Yet, when history delivers Klaus Barbie, renegade, to the very heart of US reconstruction headquarters in Germany, a mere few hundred kilometers from Lyon (Augsburg), and he is discovered by a naif US linguist, and the linguist’s boss tells him to shut the fuck up and get out of his office, and to Barbie himself falls the task of bucking the youngster up, what is documentary if not menippery? At the same time, madness unloosed is uncontainable—which is why the rush to get this first volume out, before the authorities realize novelists will have to be institutionalized to contain said madness—and the frankly nonsensical notion of standard menippean becomes like a brainy goiter that guides the novel grotesquely neckfirst about the globe.
Does one capitalize menippean? I don’t know. Nor does it matter, for early on in this novel, the narrator, or one of him, announces that he is fucking sick of such nonsense that has been weighing down fiction for his entire lifetime as proofreading, that there will be none of that shit in this book. Students of narrative voice, this is where you pull out your monocles, for the lack of proofreading gives rise to stretches of havoc from either the same unknown as the rest, or…well, or not. Nor will this book use blurbery. Nor will authors be identified. What would be the point? If I can’t be sure of myself, how can I be sure of Jomme Keller, the most identifiable of all the communal authors? As for me, Rick Harsch…I’m sitting right here.
The Vardeman Flip
10€ pages: 243 plus 112
This flip book consists of two novels by David Vardeman written ten years apart. Suddenly, this Summer is a dark mystery; April is the Cruelest Month is a dark farce. The change is not in Vardeman at all. As you read either of the two novels, the Vardeman of the other novel is lurking, and maybe laughing…even scoffing.
Suddenly, this Summer, turns you into an intelligent beetle and sets you free to roam the mind of Roberta Sookey, Iowa librarian, fat woman, woman beset by tragic circumstance, iron lady, proto-feminist, fearless, with the moves of a boxer or ice skater and a mind like a patch of ice she didn’t see coming. Your time inside her head will change nothing outside your door.
April is the Cruelest Month may be the cruelest book. But you will laugh at it, and therein is your complicity. Eddie P’Poole strangled his mother and then shot himself, and there you sit reading and laughing. What kind of monster are you?
Cynicism Management by Bori Praper
A satirical tour through contemporary Europe, from the Orkney Islands, to airport toilets, Slovenia, and, well, either Africa or the Middle East, for two plots are misaligned in the manner that our dystopian modernity manages quite easily. If you have a tattoo on your ass, you might be of more interest than you ever wanted to be as a musician. Ironically, the music is actually produced, laced throughout the novel, and is available through some mysterious processes younger people than I will have no difficulty navigating. That must make this meta-publishing. The plot of the novel is thoroughly senseless, yet easy to follow, as it amounts to a satire involving recognizable 21st century humans being manipulated by opaque forces, and generally running about attempting to avoid senseless annihilation. It is not history, but neither, unfortunately, is it fantasy. There is indeed an evil corporation called Omnipile, and that alone should sell the book to any remaining thinking primates. The virtual need to compare the book to John Kennedy O’Toole’s suicide not is prevented by the insistent repetition of Bob Dylan sardonic comment after meeting Columbus: I just said good luck.
The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas by Rick Harsch
For his magnum opus, Harsch reached into a bag of tricks left in a closet in Brussels by forgotten literary masters, and as the punning title might suggest, he attempts no less—and much more—than to come to grips with what empire has wrought, and how over the recent two centuries the United States rose to global economic mastery and a nuclear-proliferate madhouse. Harsch is able to render the story of Hugh Glass and the grizzly with dark humor and quotidian accuracy. Yet Harsch plays no tricks with time: his modern characters are modern and his historical rendering of their ancestors slot into their proper niches in historical time, vividly lit within historically corrective tales running from the days of the mountain man right up to those of nuclear testing, down the Oregon Trail, with the gold rush, into the nuclear age, Vietnam, and even Blackwater. Meanwhile, this book is a romp through history and the present, story after story told in the jargon of the mountain man of the Old West, the ‘Indians,’ the coal miners, the Joycean, and more.
“Rick Harsch’s word-drunk, transhistorical odyssey The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas—which feels at times like a rollicking collaboration between François Rabelais, Hunter S. Thompson, and Thomas Pynchon—is one of the most impressive novels I’ve read recently.”
—Steven Moore, author of The Novel: An Alternative History
Raging Joys, Sublime Violations by Chandler Brossard
Please see the Raging Joys page for the introduction you will find in the book itself. This is a tremendous moment for the press, publishing the long forgotten Chandler Brossard. The first edition hardcover of this book was recently on sale for 2,000 dollars or so, which is utterly absurd. It’s time for Brossard to return to print. This was the logical place to start as Steven Moore, who edited Brossard’s last collection and his last novel (As the Wolf Howls at My Door, which we will publish as soon as we can after we publish his Wake Up. We’re Almost there), had the computer files for our convenience and the generosity to help get this ready for a typesetter in Slovenia, though more to the point, Brossard’s scathing and sexsodden rampage against the architects and gymnasts of the Vietnam war serve to warm the reader up for whatever rage he or she lacks and to demonstrate the continuity of malevolent, arranged insanity propelled by greed and allowable only given the snail–those brilliant snails–pace of evolution as a sort of means of cushioning the shock of a nightmare that is, after all, working within the same rules of the nightmare Brossard diagnosed.
An Angel of Sodom by David Vardeman
In each story, and in the titular novella, Vardeman’s characters seem to be confounded by the banality of normal, while the undertow of an unglimpsed all-powerful strange tugs at them. What they don’t notice, luckily Vardeman does. His writing provides a variety of pleasures, including humor and puzzles that prick the intellect to discomfort, but his primary talent lies in providing endless surprise. Not a page goes by without unpredictable reactions, urges, indabas, insights, petty cruelties, and odd moments of tenderness which in this world are indeed odd and not likely to last.
Unidentified man at left of photo by Jeff Bursey
201 pages…. 10€
The author of the utterly unique satire Verbatim, and the utterly Canadian Mirrors on which Dust has Fallen, two highly acclaimed underpurchased books, along with a book of criticism, Centring the Margins, Jeff Bursey was buffeted by fate to corona\samizdat with the duty to raise the quality of our catalogue, which he does in a very funny and very perilous act of writing fiction before the reader’s very eyes. As a writer, I was nervous throughout, waiting for him to fall off the highwire (admittedly, though it was a very this string it was only about half a metre off the ground), which he DID NOT DO, not even once, not even under extremely the force of tremendous winds. If you don’t live in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, you will think you are not in this book, but you will come to realize that you are NEVER safe from fiction writers.
The Driftless Trilogy by Rick Harsch
This satirical noir trilogy, consisting of The Driftless Zone, Billy Verite, and The Sleep of Aborigines, has long been out of print. Though of the noir genre, the three novels within have their own variegated styles, registers, and plenty of post-modern inventiveness, all certainly playing by their own rules. They are funny, dark works that would please the original Dadaists of a century ago.
Skulls of Istria by Rick Harsch
A man sits at a bar in Piran on the Adriatic coast in former Yugoslavia and tells his story to a large man who speaks no English, yet plied by free liquor remains, at times in a drunken sleep, head on the table as the words drift over his skull. This tavern confession is told by a defrocked historian from the United States, who unwittingly, perhaps naively, brought his talents to the turmoil of the Balkans. His tales in the first chapter take us to Capodistria, Ancona, Venice, and back to the bar where we began, linked by the physical presence of a wind known as the Burja (the Italian bora), a great wind capable of lifting cars into the air. But the unnamed narrator is not simply telling random stories. As we move through the next four chapters, we realize that this book is indeed confessional, an apology of sorts, yet with a broken man’s defiance; it is a meditation not only about hats and a historian’s attempt at written redemption, but about love and politics, history and warriors who drink blood, the isolation of a stranger in a strange land and the choices that lead us to death and our inability to use language to transcend ourselves.
Arjun and the Good Snake, being an ophidiological account of six weeks in India without alcohol
This is a memoir about alcoholism and venom, all things Indian and some things half, for instance, the author’s son. Rick Harsch is a writer living on the coast of Izola where great wine is cheap and suicide is on his brain. He determines on a trip to stay with his Indian wife’s family in Chennai, India, that he will stay dry, spend his six weeks writing, searching for snakes, carving coconut masks with his son, and veering about Chennai. The book refuses to spare the author as it ranges from gruesome confessional to architectural analysis, the humor of his relationship with his son, his rage against forces he sees arrayed against him, at times quite misguidedly so.
Walk Like a Duck: A Season of Little League Baseball in Italy by Rick Harsch
The Staranzano Ducks are a northern Italian baseball team in a country that is a palimpsest for history, the kind of place baseball, a game of instant historicity, sinks its hooks into a people for whom history is a quotidian backdrop. Walk Like a Duck chronicles one season of Italian baseball yet, written in diary form by a US expatriate living in Izola, Slovenia, just across the border from Trieste, the book is steeped in culture and history, ranging from hilariously mocking to fascinatingly informative.
“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