“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
The Mad Patagonian
By Javier Pedro Zabala; translated from The Spanish by Tomás García Guerrero 
1268 pages; list price: tradepaperback $30
Release date: February 26, 2018

‘Cuban writer Javier Pedro Zabala and Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño first crossed paths in Mexico City in the mid-seventies.  Their very first meeting, recounted at some length in Zabala’s diary, occurred in April of 1975.’  So begins the ‘Translator’s Introductory Remarks’ to Zabala’s masterpiece, The Mad Patagonian.
The Mad Patagonian is a multi-generational epic spanning three centuries and five continents in which members of the Escoraz family are looking to find true love (and some version of paradise) in a world that has been torn apart by the random even bestial violence of Fascism in all its forms. So what does Zabala’s novel have to do with Roberto Bolaño? According to Tomás García Guerrero, the translator, The Mad Patagonian provides a competing vision, a stark counterpoint to the darker vision of much of Bolaño’s work. Guerrero believes that the novel is an effort on the part of Zabala to engage his friend Bolaño in a metaliterary conversation about the true nature of the world. Guerrero also suggests that the subtextual interplay between Zabala’s vision and Bolaño’s is crucial to understanding the novel.

The nine interconnected novellas that make up The Mad Patagonian take the reader backwards through time and history, a journey which begins in that sunny paradise we call Florida and the familiar urban/suburban American landscape of both Jacksonville and Miami in the 1990s. From Florida we then travel to the historical melting pot of Logroño, Spain during the latter part of the nineteenth century (1870-1899), where the mythic stories of two pyschics, Escolástica and Isabel Escoraz Vda De Miranda, unfold. From Spain we then head to Santiago, Cuba, circa 1900-1907, a tumultuous period in Cuban history when forgotten poets lingered in the shadows before descending into oblivion, the determined followers of José Martí were still seeking liberty and equality for every Cuban citizen, and brujería magic was a force to be reckoned with.

Next we travel to a film nourish 1950s Havana, with swanky, exclusive nightclubs overflowing with the sounds of sultry danzón singers; a world in which corrupt government officials and remorseless gangsters who read Pirandello find themselves in a battle to the death with a mysterious group of German anarchists and ex-spies who believe they are working for a sinister, alien (as in outer space) race intent on subjugating the Earth; and then we find ourselves in a contemporary parallel universe America (with one Kafkaesque detour thru parts of France, Germany, and the city of Prague) where an aging Basque immigrant who fought Franco, a World War One tank commander, Latin-American revolutionaries, CIA operatives, FBI agents, ex-poets, ex-priests, atheists, an internationally acclaimed porn star, an expert on Nazi mysticism and the occult, a modern-day saint, a Hollywood movie director who was nominated for an Academy Award, and a hairdresser from Buenos Aires who once cut the hair of Jorge Borges in a hotel room in New York City, all take their turn on center stage, and the hope of finding paradise takes on profoundly spiritual dimensions.

About the Author  
Javíer Pedro Zabala was a product of the multicultural forces that have been shaping the Americas for over five-hundred years. His father, Miguel Octavio Cercas, was born in Matamoros, a border town in northeastern Mexico.  His mother, Anabelle Elizabeth Zabala, whose surname he ultimately kept, was from Miami, Florida.  Zabala was born in Miami in 1950 but moved to Mexico with his father in 1964.  In 1976, while living in Mexico City, he married Blanca Barutti, a recent graduate of the Facultad de Medicina UNAM.  Blanca was originally from Santiago, Cuba.  After a short honeymoon, the couple moved to Cuba and took up residence in a tiny cinder block house with a tin roof and a view of the Caribbean Sea in La Boca, Cuba, a small seaside village in Sancti Spíritus province.  He lived in La Boca for the last twenty-six years of his life.  He was unknown as a writer during his lifetime and died in June 2002 at the age of fifty-two of an aneurysm, two months after he had completed his novel, without fanfare, unnoticed by anyone save his daughter.
About the Translator
Tomás García Guerrero was born in San Pedrito, Mexico in 1937. He earned his Doctorate in Linguistics from UNAM in 1962 and taught at various institutions throughout Mexico, retiring in 1998 from the University of Tamaulipas, Mexico.  This is his first translation.
To purchase your special edition advance copy of The Mad Patagonian, proceed to checkout.
Special Note if you are ordering from
Canada, Mexico, or Europe!!

Our customers living in the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe pay the same price for The Mad Patagonian; however shipping outside of the United States is more expensive. The actual shipping cost of one copy to Europe is $32.07 for the postage and $4.41 for the packaging. The costs to Canada and Mexico are similar.  However, we will only charge you $22.50 to ship a single copy of The Mad Patagonian to Canada, Mexico, or Europe!
PRAISE for The Mad Patagonian
“Epic in proportion, capaciously endless in breadth and
depth, The Mad Patagonian submerges its reader into seemingly bottomless seas of Cuban history, mythology, and chismes that surface as a rollicking, evocative, glistening, incomparable and peerless novel.”

- H. G. Carrillo , author of Loosing My Espanish

The Mad Patagonian is a beautiful work. The writing is exquisite. And the story, my oh my, the story is heavenly.”

- Susan Wingate (winner of a 2015 USA Best Books
Award for fiction for The Deer Effect)
The Mad Patagonian is a very intelligent novel, enviably so, which will leave you wondering where reality ends and fiction begins. Indeed, it is precisely this question that leads the reader, at least this reader, into the book, into its layered complexity and variously fascinating and conflicted characters. The Mad Patagonian
is a crazy, fun, profound, brilliant book.”

- Pablo F. Medina (author of sixteen books,
including the novel The Cigar Roller, a Book Sense
Notable for 2005, and Cubop City Blues, 2012)
Read the 'Hot Review' of The Mad Patagonian on Library Thing by Early Reviewer Larry Riley
(June 11, 2017)
Read the latest review (September 19, 2017) of
The Mad Patagonian on Library Thing by Rick Harsch
Current Back List
Eternity, My Beloved 
By the author of The Sea Remains, winner of the 1964 Grand Prix Catholique de Littérature.
Somewhere Between Earth and Heaven

By James E. W. Sledge

96 pages; list price: trade paperback $10 (In Stock)

1st River Boat Books edition (August 2002)


Somewhere Between Earth and Heaven embraces a forward looking vision where the poet functions as "the antenna of the human race." This collection uses historical, cultural, and personal experiences to explore the nuances of negotiating current trends in Postmodern spirituality, relationships, and diversity. The essays and poems in this stunning debut collection focus on the symmetries between the spiritual, the physical, and the emotional worlds, challenging each reader to explore possibilities that might otherwise remain taboo, and in so doing, remind us of what it truly means to be human.


The four divisions of this book demonstrate a powerful and eclectic range of topics. Readers encounter an Italian love poem, Shakespeare and Company in Paris, Aristotle in Belgium, the Holocaust, and poignant portraits of Africa rarely seen.
James E. W. Sledge lives and teaches in central Pennsylvania. 

By Jean Sulivan

146 pages; list price: trade paperback $15 (In Stock)

translated from French by Sister Francis Ellen Riordan; introduction by Dr. Joseph Cuneen

1st River Boat Books edition (July 3, 1999)


Eternity, My Beloved tells the story of a rebel priest, Jerome Strozzi, who falls between the cracks of both church and state during the German occupation of Paris during World War II. Befriending prostitutes, petty thieves, and con-men, he becomes the unofficial pastor of the notorious Pigalle district. Told by a skeptical narrator who is himself searching for Strozzi's secret, this contemporary lyric masterpiece becomes a sustained meditation on love and freedom.


Jean Sulivan was born in a farming village in Brittany in 1913. In 1938 he was ordained a priest and served as a university chaplain. In 1958 he published his first book, and with the success of his third book, The Sea Remains, received permission from the Cardinal of Rennes to set aside his pastoral duties and devote himself to writing. He moved to Paris in 1964 and over the course of the next sixteen years wrote over 30 books. He was considered by man to be the best Catholic writer in France at the time. He died in 1980 in an automobile accident.


Jean Sulivan won the Grand Prix Catholique de Littérature in 1964 for The Sea Remains.  Eternity, My Beloved is his first work translated into English.



One Last Dance with Lawrence Welk & Other Stories 
A 1997 Minnesota Book Award Finalist

By Peter Damian Bellis

143 pages; list price: trade paperback $9 (In Stock)

1st River Boat Books edition (1996)


The stories in One Last Dance With Lawrence Welk And Other Stories give us a glimpse of a surreal world inhabited by off-beat yet heart-warming characters. It is a world where anything can happen. A young boy from Minnesota brings two ghosts together through music, a wealthy gadabout recalls the night of his death, an ancient miracle man travels the country roads of Florida in search of customers for his Blue Elixir of The Nile. 



Critical Praise for One Last Dance with Lawrence Welk & Other Stories


"A real display of virtuosity - Peter Damian Bellis' stories sail across landscapes armed with mythic charms, finely tuned details, and enough grittiness to take the paint off your car.  Peter Damian Bellis is a genius of the unexpected."

-Jonis Agee, author of Sweet Eyes

(A NY Times Notable Books of the Year)


"I love the stories of Flannery O'Connor and Joyce carol Oates.  And Gabriel Garcia Marquez, of course.  Peter Damian Bellis is also a writer who has had a great influence on me."

-Luana Monteiro, critically acclaimed

author of Litte Star of Bella Luna

(Delphinium Books/HarperCollins Publishers)


The Conjure Man 

By Peter Damian Bellis

248 pages; list price: Trade paperback $15 (In Stock)

Hardcover $27 (currently out of stock);

1st River Boat Books edition (July 3, 2010)


After Thaddeus Jacobs, the adopted son of a traveling preacher, is found naked with a young woman, he is expelled from the only family he has ever known. Guided by visions and a mysterious voice, he makes his way to a coastal South Carolina island, where he struggles to make his peace with God and himself in spite of his own strange cravings and the superstitious hatred of the islanders, who think he is the devil. The price of his inner peace, however, is absolute isolation, and it is only when he meets Kilby, a thirteen-year-old boy, that he rediscovers what it means to be human.

Part myth, part fable, part satire, and part coming-of-age story, The Conjure Man plumbs the emotional depths of the human psyche in prose both dreamlike in the images it conjures and intensely vivid in the psychology it reveals. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Kilby and Thaddeus, it depicts a world where magic does exist, and miracles are possible.


Click to watch a video trailer of The Conjure Man
The first video trailer selection was created by an Independent film company in Los Angelos in May 2010 simply because they liked the book.  The second was created when we took The Conjure Man on tour in the summer of 2010.  The website for the book (conjureman.net) no longer exists, but the book is still in print.  Also, if you share these video links with your friends, we will give you two copies of The Conjure Man for $20 (the videos say 2 copies for $25).
To purchase any book from our backlist, proceed to checkout.
Critical Praise for Peter Damian Bellis and The Conjure Man
"Peter Damian Bellis has a most original and compelling style."
-Joyce Carol Oates
"Mr. Bellis is a gifted storyteller with a knack for engaging the reader's sense of wonder."
-James Cox, The Midwest Book Review 
"The author's ability to heighten the poignancy of the mundane by adding a touch of the surreal is his greatest talent.  One moment we are confronted with fragile poignant moments, and the next, humorous glimpses of the human condition."
-Clayton Eliott, Lexicon
“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.” 
― Rainer Maria Rilke, The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge