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

 
‘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!
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PRAISE for The Mad Patagonian
  
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)
  
“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)
  
  
Read the 'Hot Review' of The Mad Patagonian on Library Thing by Early Reviewer Larry Riley
(June 11, 2017)
  
  
Read the November 6, 2017 review by of
The Mad Patagonian
by book critic Tom Murr of The Lectern 
  
  
Read the review by The Mad Patagonian by
  Rick Harsch (September 19, 2017) 
 on Library Thing
  
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Skulls of Istria
By Rick Harsch 
152 pages; list price: tradepaperback $15.95
Release date: May 15, 2018

SPECIAL ADVANCE EDITION AVAILABLE NOW

 
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 – a paradox, as the language does indeed transcend, not as poetry transcends, but as exceptionally precise prose armed with irony, with philosophical insight, transcends. But I must do better than that when trying to describe the impact of the prose! There are passages throughout that possess a Joycean verbal inventiveness, emotionally charged language and unsettling images that force the reader to capitulate to a vision of reality that resonates with a beauty we rarely glimpse, and a truth that of necessity must expand our notion of whatever reality we think we inhabit. As example: “You look at me in that aggressive quid pro Balkan way, sizing me up by what you take to be elemental 


mammalian factors — how much can he drink, how long can he hold a live and kicking sheep over his head, how many Turkish boys will he rape, how long can he stare into the squidless Adriatic ink with his miner’s helmet and not see himself, what fair widow could make tender his heart—but you don’t see all the dimensions available to you, you don’t see a past. An admirable blindness, I grant you, to be envied. Whereas a trained historian such as myself sits next to you and I can smell your past like the placenta from a birth of pigs rotting in the sun. I can’t look at you and avoid your past.” In short, the tales in the first chapter and those that follow, in particular an eponymous episode that captures the horror of the Balkan war through historic mayhem, with an echo of both Hamlet and Breughel, are all lost in the trail of a Burja, that great wind which is like a cleansing of the soul. And that is in the end what Skulls of Istria is – a cleansing of the soul, comparable to similar novels such as Camus’ The Fall, which it exceeds in artistry, and Antonio Lobo Antunes’ South of Nowhere, perhaps the only comparable book of its kind.




___________________________________________
PRAISE for Skulls of Istria
ABOUT the Author

Rick Harsch hit the literary scene in 1997 with his cult classic The Driftless Zone, which was followed by Billy Verite and Sleep of the Aborigines (all by Steerforth Press) soon after to form The Driftless Trilogy (an excerpt from which will soon be published by the University of Wisconsin’s The Driftless Reader in the fall of 2017). Harsch migrated to the Slovene coastal city of Izola in 2001, just as the Driftless books were published in French translation by a French publisher that went out of business a few years later. Rick is also the author of Arjun and the Good Snake (2011, Amalietti & Amaliette), Wandering Stone: the Streets of Old Izola (2017, Mandrac Press), Voices After Evelyn (2018, Maintenance Ends Press), and The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas (2018, River Boat Books).

Rick lives in Izola still, with his wife and two children. He teaches about 100 hours a year at a maritime academy in Trieste, and has co-authored numerous scientific works in the maritime field. He is currently at work on an extended essay on Trieste and a novel called The Assassination of Olof Palme. His recently completed magnum opus The Manifold Destiny of Eddie Vegas will be published in May 2018 by River Boat Books of St. Paul, MN.




Rick Harsch’s tavern confession novel, Skulls of Istria, is more seamless than Camus’ The Fall and every bit as erudite as Antunes’ South of Nowhere. The narrator is as cognizant of the tragic tectonics of political life as those in Harsch’s other books and as feckless in his attempts to navigate the proscribed resultant quotidian. Though the plot is an attenuated thriller, the real thrill of the book is an exquisitely horrific encounter with literal skulls I found either surreal or hyper-real or both. This is a book that tears the skin off the skulls of modern man and butts them against the skulls of history.

-Trent Stewart, Author of Flood Summer and The Mysterious Benedict Society


Rick Harsch — one of the few legitimate heirs to that honorary son of Trieste, James Joyce — revels in the effluvia of digression, the lewd off-stage whisper, and to the great woe of translation, a disrespect for the grammatical constraints of English. If I sought to explain our trans-national Weltgeist to a worthy friend (or better yet, to an intriguing stranger from Mars), I could make no better choice than to recommend this book and its astounding author.


-Scott Coffel, American poet and author of Toucans in the Arctic, Etruscan Press, 2009.





To purchase your special edition advance copy of Skulls of Istria, 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 Skulls of Istria; 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 Skulls of Istria to Canada, Mexico, or Europe!

We also have a second option. If you purchase six copies of Skulls of Istria, the shipping to Canada, Mexico, and Europe is STILL ONLY $22.50. This is because whether we send a single book or six, the USPS requires us to use a small flat rate envelope for International Priority mail. In other words, we will be able to put six copies of Skulls of Istria in one envelope. If you wish to select this option, hit the button that says Skulls of Istria: Six-Book package.

  
Read the 'Hot Review' of Skulls of Istria on Library Thing by Early Reviewer Larry Riley
(November 8, 2017)
  
___________________________________________
The Seven Madmen
The Flamethrowers
By Roberto Arlt
Translated by Naomi Lindstrom
324 pages; list price: tradepaperback $16.95
Release date: May 27, 2018

By Roberto Arlt
Translated by Larry Riley
324 pages; list price: tradepaperback $16.95
Release date: May 27, 2018

WHAT ARE THESE TWO BOOKS ABOUT AND WHO IS ROBERTO ARLT?
(from "An Introduction to Roberto Arlt's The Flamethrowersby Rick Harsch)

1. The Flamethrowers, by Roberto Art, originally published in Buenos Aires in 1931, is without question the most important Spanish language novel unavailable in English translation until this curretn edition.

2. The Seven Madmen, considered by English language literary critics the most important novel written by Roberto Arlt (published originally in 1929 in Buenos Aires), has been translated twice.

3. Neither book is a novel.

4. The Seven Madmen is the first half of a novel and The Flamethrowers is its second half.

5. Roberto Arlt knew this. And I have no doubt that Julio Cortazar and every other Spanish language reader inspired by Arlt knew this as well. And since Arlt is considered a precursor to the ‘Magic Realist’ boom in Latin American literature, some would say its godfather, this strange fact of its botched delivery into English is an obscenity not without charm.

6. In fact, Arlt likely published the book in two acts as he did for financial reasons. And of course it is for financial reasons that no one has bothered to publish The Flamethrowers. (Our translator, Larry Riley, knows more about this, for in addition to the difficulty of selling obscure translations, it seems there was a difficult heir in the Arlt family.)

7. Certainly the two translators of The Seven Madmen—Naomi Lindstrom and Nick Caistor— knew that they were not really translating a whole novel. Arlt said so at the end of The Seven Madmen. Lindstrom and Caistor had to translate this: ‘*Commentator’s note: The story of the characters in this novel will continue in a second volume, The Flamethrowers.’ If that seems ambiguous it is because the commentator is unfamiliar to you as a voice who is telling this singular and, if multi-splenetic, single novel. And then there is that most benignly adamantine voice among Arlt’s nephews, Cortazar’s, in his introduction to the latest publication of The Seven Madmen (in English), referring with casual authority to ‘...what is in truth one novel with two titles.’

8. Arlt’s novel is unusual in that it is imbedded in time from which he deracinates his characters.

9. The Great War provided urgent impetus to Arlt’s characters; they viewed the horrific episodes of World War Two with wry, sating curiosity despite Arlt’s grave.

10. Born in 1900, Arlt died in 1942.

11. The Enigmatic Visitor of The Flamethrowers was not surprised that atomic bombs did the work that a few dedicated madmen with phosgene could easily have accomplished.

12. Early in The Mad Toy, Arlt’s first novel, a group of visionary urchins forms a club, at which the following, among other, proposals is made: “The club should have a library of scientific works in order for its associates to be certain that they are robbing and killing according to the most modern industrial procedures.” This proposal is made directly after a discussion regarding replacing a chicken egg’s natural contents with nitroglycerin.

13. Circuitous routes are pioneered by admirers of Arlt to reach the point where they feel it is safe, finally, to say that his writing was, after all, human. Yet what separates Arlt from all writers of his time is his anguish that the human is finished, finishing, knocked off, an anguish that is expressed like no other anguish has ever been expressed in literature, in the character of Remo Erdosain, whose essential phenomenological disturbance is an obsessive leitmotif of The Seven Madmen, quicksand for the tender readers like myself who recognize the tin skies, cubical rooms, geometric incursions of light and thought, and, anguished, Arlt compelled again and again to describe Erdosain’s anguish, perhaps already knowing that one impending horror was the inevitable scrutiny of the actions of Erdosain by Giacommetti figures picking Beckettian through ruined literary landscapes.

14. It is difficult to argue seminality, particularly in fiction, which lacks the immediacy of painting, and more—it assumes a lack of transfer between the arts. So when Roberto Arlt is credited with being the originator of magical realism, not only is the issue absurd, it serves to deflect the meaning of Arlt’s great work, The Seven Madmen and The Flamethowers. He may have preceded Guernica, but not Tzara, and not the city scapes and madmonsters of Grosz. What makes Arlt’s work great is to some degree indeed its originality, his private cubysmal canvass that combined the abysmal industrial architecture and working conditions of the most modern of human creatures with the existential madness this engendered, and awareness of historical defeat, and the other side of that, what lurked temporally beyond, the advanced cannibalism of technological weaponry and worse, the acceptance of it. The chapter The Enigmatic Visitor in The Flamethrowers in which a jaundiced, fully uniformed (gasmasked!) soldier appears to Erdosain at night, their subsequent, almost blase conversation about gasses, including the support for Erdosain’s belief in the efficacy of phosgene as a mass murdering agent, and worse, the final declaration of the visitor, places Arlt beyond the future in which he is accursed with being labeled progenitor. For Arlt, civilization is over. As he writes, it is dying a slow death, and still is. Witness the writer who perhaps best reflects the influence of Arlt, intentionally or not, Rodolfo Walsh, who in his astonishing work of investigative writing, Operation Massacre, refers to ‘...this cannibalistic time that we are living in...’, in a book that in retrospect seems to have ushered in a regime much like that of the United States, in which the faces change, but the cannibalism gathers strength, so much so for Argentina that some 20 years after the publication of that book Walsh published an open letter to the regime and left his home with a pistol knowing he was going to need it that very day—and indeed was murdered at five in the afternoon. This is Arlt’s greatness, a diagnosis not a prophecy, and an accurate diagnosis at that. In Arlt there is absurdity, surreality, some Kafka, some Beckett, some Joyce, but mostly there is what may be called hyper-reality, an umbrella term, which to Arlt was merely the horror of reality.




PRAISE for Roberto Arlt
“Let’s say, modestly, that Arlt is Jesus Christ.”          -Roberto Bolaño


“Roberto Arlt is one of our greatest visionaries . . . writing for him is cauterization, acid that etches, a magic lantern projecting, one after another, glass slides depicting a cruel city and its men and women condemned to live permanently on the prowl, like dogs, . . . . that is art, like the art of a canyengue Goya (Arlt would have punched me in the face if he read this), of a street-fighting Francois Villon, of a Kit Marlowe wielding his knife in taverns. . . art that puts us face to face with ourselves, as only great art can.”
  
-Julio Cortazar (translated by Katherine Silver)
  

Roberto Arlt
How to Order Both Books!
The Official Release for both books is May 27, 2018, however we are sure to have Special Edition Advance Copies available for purchase in time for the Christmas Holidays. If you wish to be notified when both The Seven Madmen and The Flamethrowers are availabe, please click on the button below and fill out the form that pops up (name, address, email). 
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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