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Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich

KalichCOVER CPWx2700

Cover art © Bernard Piga

Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9926552-7-3 / E-book ASIN: B00MWY2XWK

Available now on Amazon and with free worldwide delivery

Central Park West Trilogy is destined to become a cult classic, pressed into the hands of friends with a promise, “You’ve never read anything like this before.”

To read Richard Kalich is to be plunged into an uncompromising world, to be exposed to dark deeds and strange thoughts, to be challenged.

The novels collected here tug at our concepts of civility, identity, truth and art. They are postmodern fables; dark, shocking, funny, astute, and compulsively readable.

They share a ferocious energy and break down standard notions of plot and character to form a body of work that is distinctive.

They are unsettling books, relentless in their demands on the reader – who must pay attention, question the narrator, and stare unflinching at the nightmarish visions unfolding before him or her. The works are written to provoke; the reader may want to recoil and turn away, and yet find themselves caught up in the galloping pace of the plot.

But there is also room for laughter, to find humour in the outlandish adventures of Charlie P in particular. Unsurprisingly, the humour is often a perverse, provocative kind. Kalich doesn’t want his readers getting too comfortable. As he would surely say, what is the value of a book that doesn’t question cosy notions of what it is to be human, to be civilised, to be cultured?

Instead of answers, we are given shattered fragments, from which we must try to piece together the whole. Kalich experiments with narrative form and characters, pulling us into a murky place where we are left to wonder: what is the difference between Kalich the author, Kalich the character and Kalich the man? Can we ever know what is going on inside the head of another human being?


Read an excerpt from Central Park West Trilogy

Read more about Richard Kalich and Central Park West Trilogy here


Praise for The Nihilesthete

 “One of the most powerfully written books of the decade.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“A brilliant, hammer-hitting, lights-out novel.” — Los Angeles Times

“A shocking, chilling fable.” — Seattle Times

“A tour de force… equals the best work of playwright Sam Shepard.” — Columbus Post-Dispatch

“A great black comedy… The names Swift and Kafka are not too lofty to mention here.” — Sunday Oklahoman

“As important and original a novel to have been written by an American author in a generation.” — Mid-American Review

 Praise for Penthouse F

“This is an important work that deserves to be read by everyone interested in serious fiction.” — Marc Lowe, The Review of Contemporary Fiction

 “[Penthouse F] is akin to the best work of Paul Auster in terms of its readability without sacrificing its intelligence of experiment. […] Kalich delivers afresh, relevant, and enticingly readable work of metafiction.” — American Book Review  

“Thrilling and confusing in equal measure, Penthouse F is an important book that dismantles the reader, leaving you in fragmented bits and pieces like the barbed clips that make up the novel’s structure.” — Colin Herd, 3:00AM magazine

“Ghosts haunt this book from first page to last:  Dostoevsky, Mallarme, Kafka, Mann, Camus, Pessoa, Gombrowicz–and, oh yes, most perniciously of all, “Kalich.”  For he is a man who tortures himself both with the novels he has written and with those he has not. Let us forgive him even if he will not forgive himself, recognizing as we do the one truth of this tale that seems to be beyond doubt:  “It was all in his head like everything else about him.”  — Warren Motte, World Literature Today 

“A marvelous book. It manages to do in a short novel what the great postmodernists like Coover and Barth take five or six hundred pages to do.” –Brian Evenson

“If one of the great European intransigents of the last century – say, Franz Kafka or Georges Bataille or Witold Gombrowicz – were around to write a novel about our era of reality TV and the precession of simulacra, the era of Big Brother and The Real World, what would it look like? Well, it might look like Richard Kalich’s Penthouse F.” — Brian McHale

“In the strange, sometimes frank ways that Robbe-Grillet and Cooper and Acker approach a kind of lurking moral presence in their work, Kalich too creates something somehow both spiritually clouded and passively demanding: what is going on here, in this business of words, and people? The answer, perhaps both political and existential, whether you agree with one side or the other, operates in the way texts I most often enjoy to get wrapped up in invoke: a door that once opened, is opened, and you can’t get it all the way back shut, try how you must. This is a book, a body of work, an author, deserving a new unearthing eye.” — Blake Butler, HTML Giant  

Praise for Charlie P

“Charlie P is energetic, delightfully sardonic, dark without being oppressive, playful and very readable. Richard Kalich has hit a voice that commands attention and allows the reader to endlessly and wittily process cultural hyperbole and inflated newspeak. Charlie P is the urban everyman, the self-regarding and coreless creature of our times. Kalich has captured him through endless reflections down the tunnel of the facing mirrors. One reads and reads and smiles. Charlie P captures the note of our late modern times.” — Sven Birkerts

“With his continuous comic exaggeration, Kalich is able to describe, highly uniquely, the overwhelming, vertiginous, risky sensation of being alive.” — American Book Review

“Like most good comic novelists, Kalich is adept at teetering on the precipice wherein he might decide to dilute the fun with the grim, creating that suspense where things might get really bad at any moment.” — Rain Taxi Review of Books

“[Kalich is] after what it means to be profoundly out of step with one’s culture yet still unwilling to let go of the American dream. And this tension between dream and reality makes Charlie P a deliciously painful book.” — Bookforum

“I would rather that the familiar be embraced and the novel resonate beyond itself and intone the spheres of Plato and Beckett. Charlie P resonates.”  – Review of Contemporary Fiction

“Speaks with a singular honesty, power and eloquence about our spiritually diminished modern world.” — Mid American Review


Post a comment
  1. May 28, 2015

    Thank you SO much for sharing your thoughts. We would be very grateful if you would post an Amazon review as well. In any case, it’s always wonderful to hear from a reader who ‘gets’ Richard Kalich’s writing. Thanks again.

  2. Bennett James Galef #
    May 27, 2015

    Wow. In the Nihilisthete Richard Kalich has achieved what every novelist—actually, every writer—tries to do but most all fail to do. He’s captured the essence of the human spirit—triumphant! What a book.
    Brodski represents every person. The Haberman character represents the world.

    “What’s that? He’s lifting his arm stumps? A smirk on his face? A beatific smile! He’s…He’s…in his own head HE’S PAINTING!!!

    -The Nihilesthete, p. 187

    That’s really all I have to say about it. I am so glad to have read it. I could go on with all of these examples, but the essence is clear. I’m a far cry from an intellectual so I am unable to probe in to what this represents in our culture with much depth. I suppose it shows that even though we are having everything taken away from us, and we are in a transient culture that is obsessed with the ephemeral, the human spirit still shines on.
    It’s such a strange coincidence that the most grotesque, sick and twisted novel I have ever read—and perhaps of all time—is also, coincidentally, one of the most beautiful.
    I imagine as well that the Haberman character could represent the culture of the past clawing against the progression of the present, and the new passion of the present and youth culture, in any era, however it ultimately loses, of course…
    Through the awful imagery the book is able to probe into the blackest areas of the human brain, and we can see the spirit still shine on… the energy against it fails. Deep down, Haberman knows he can never win. It is perhaps the act of accessing the spark in humanity that is the act of winning.

    The section about John Lennon’s death was very fascinating—the audacity to say something like that, to confront that part of the human soul… It’s amazing the author still has his sanity—maybe because he did confront it is the reason why. The courage of the novel is the recognition of the hatred and disgust and filth and bile and fury and envy and sadism and destruction and depravity and wasteland in human beings, and the triumph of our spirits that endure through all of it and still go on, forever searching…painting…even in our heads…when all is lost…a beatific smile…

    “…yet somehow managing, miraculously managing, to hold himself erect for the fraction of time necessary to dab the canvas before he collapses under his own weight again. And after using his last smidgen of oil color he paints with piss, shit, dust, dirt, pus, food remains, blood, biting his lip, anything to give him color; anything that allows him to paint; sometimes even mixing it all together ina compound on the floor to give his work an impasto effect. For four accursed hours I’ve watched beauty unfold before me as no man has ever seen it unfold before. As it never HAS unfolded before. One stroke at a time. One momentous stroke. He sustains his ability to call forth all that is left in him, painting each stroke as his last, radiant, exultant with each stroke. His triumph is that of the man who knows the best in him is being expressed. Who knows what it is to be alive, really alive, in the present moment. What does it matter that he’s going to die. He’s lived as few others have. Oh, what I wouldn’t have given to have lived like that. Even for a moment. Especially for a moment. Had I only known a moment like that, my whole life might have been different.”
    -The Nihilesthete, p. 185

    Haberman loves Brodski. Brodski loves Haberman.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. “A Poet of Darkness” | Betimes Books
  2. Richard Kalich acknowledged as an notable postmodernist author | Betimes Books
  3. An Excerpt from Charlie P, Book 3 in Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich | Betimes Books
  4. An Excerpt from Penthouse F, Book 2 in the Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich | Betimes Books
  5. An Excerpt from The Nihilesthete, Book 1 in the Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich | Betimes Books
  6. Richard Kalich | Betimes Books

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