Posts tagged ‘Central Park West Trilogy’
April 28, 2015
I don’t have a method but… and it’s a big ‘but’… I can speak of a pattern that has repeated itself with all four of my novels. And the same will be true with my next. I see my novels metaphorically. By that I mean an image comes to me… and that image, that poetic metaphoric image, contains all I need to know about the fiction to follow. The image is always (to me) more than just an image. Not only does it give me the beginning, middle and end of the narrative, but it also suggests a fundamental elemental universal of our world. I don’t mean to suggest the demonic/divine illumination of the 18th or 19th century novelists, nor do I want to glorify or romanticize the artistic process, but this is what I’ve experienced as a Writer.
If pressed, I would say this metaphoric image is a gift; some poets have it, I’m told. Where it comes from… who knows? I call it… the fecundity of the unconscious.
My particular unconscious showing me the way: Before words or thought or deliberation or calculation that which lies deepest inside me articulates itself with this image. Once it appears I allow it – or it allows me – to form, shape, edit and refine itself over a gestation period that can last two to twenty years. The image never leaves me. And though as a Writer and person I evolve and change, recreate myself and the forms I might make use of as a novelist, the first image, the central image… stays the same. I’ll give you an example. The day I finished my novel The Nihilesthete an image came to me of a man hovering over a surveillance camera while hiding in his closet, spying on a boy and girl. It only took me twenty-plus years to find the courage to write that novel now titled Penthouse F.
Richard Kalich is the author of CENTRAL PARK WEST TRILOGY, including The Nihilesthete, Charlie P, and Penthouse F.
March 7, 2015
Colin O’Sullivan about PENTHOUSE-F by Richard Kalich
– So we are going to do this like a courtroom drama, or an interrogation?
– Yes. We are. We are indeed.
– Because most of the book is done in that style.
– I see. Was the book impressive?
– Yes, very impressive. Mr. Kalich is a great writer.
– And he appears in the book too?
– Yes, if it really is him, if you know what I mean…you can call the book postmodern, or that he uses meta-narratives or…
– That all sounds a bit confusing.
– In theory yes, but it’s a very entertaining book. Says a lot about writing. And the creative process. It’s playful, but not flippant. We’re dealing with a serious artist here.
– Oh, really?
– “He’s an idiot. So disconnected . . . conflicted . . . torn apart.”
– Just joking. That’s actually a quote from the book. He often sidesteps you like that. Reminds you of…
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February 14, 2015
From the chapter “The young harpist”
At age fifty-seven Charlie P fell in love with a twenty year-old Bulgarian harpist entering Juilliard on scholarship. Besides being young and beautiful, she came from a good family, too. Her mother not only taught ethics at the university, but practiced what she preached. Her father discovered the cure for cancer. Her grandfather assassinated both Hitler and Stalin, and what makes these deeds even more remarkable is that he accomplished them before the War. It has been thirty-three years since Charlie P had last been in love. And now this. How lucky could he get. Miracle of miracles. Wonder of wonders. Charlie P never thought it would happen to him again.
On their first meeting, Charlie P wanted to buy the young woman the world. And with an outpouring of generosity that the world has rarely seen, he bought the young woman all of Manhattan as well as the Brooklyn Bridge. And in the wee hours he sneaked off with her to Paris and brought back the Eiffel Tower, too. At the date’s end, for his generosity and kindness, the young woman told him she loved him. But when Charlie P leaned his head forward and pursed his lips, all she gave him was a peck on the cheek. It’s only to be expected, said Charlie P. What else could an old man like myself expect from such a young and beautiful girl. Who comes from a good family, too.
From the chapter “Love is war”
What if the love of his life is not all he made her out to be? What if only for a fleeting second Charlie P opens his eyes and can see?
From the chapter “Do you know the difference…?”
“Do you know the difference between an artist and a businessman?” said Charlie P in one of his many arguments with the young harpist. “I’ll tell you.”
“A businessman is interested in power, lives for power, first and always is power, he’s a power monger. No amount of money or power is enough for him. Only those things tangible and palpable, of flesh and blood reality, those things he can touch, smell, see and hear, interest him. To obtain those things he instrumentalizes and manipulates the world. Accumulation, more and more is his sole aim and credo. His raison d’être and clarion call.”
Charlie P pauses for a deep breath. When he continued his voice had changed noticeably.
“The artist on the other hand pursues truth and meaning, and the making of all things beautiful. He has no use for the tangible and the palpable. The functional and the material. He’s sensitive and delicate and cannot pass a glowing sun or a pale moon or a patch of cloud or a sheet of rain without stopping to gaze in awe and wonder. He lives in the clouds with only the starry constellations spinning in his head.”
“Just as I thought,” said the young harpist. “I know the difference.”
“Yes. And I prefer the businessman.”
February 4, 2015
Review of The Nihilesthete, by Richard Kalich (Betimes Books)
When social-worker Haberman finds a limbless wheelchair-bound man observing a street artist, it’s as if all his birthdays have come at once. He can now set about the task that he may always have been destined for, to take this unfortunate victim under his monstrous wing and systematically abuse him (mentally and spiritually) until he is somehow sated.
Why does he do this? What unfortunate events in his past have compelled him to carry out such atrocities? Wrong question. It’s like asking how Winnie got buried in sand in Beckett’s “Happy Days”: the fact is that she just happens to be buried in sand; the fact is that Haberman just happens to be this way, like Simenon’s Frank Friedermaier in Dirty Snow perhaps, bad to the bone. Those looking for easy armchair-psychology rationalizations have come to the wrong anti-hero.
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January 1, 2015
“…wrought with dark humour and a multitude of literary, philosophical and psychological references. The trilogy is an essential read for anyone who enjoys a challenge: predictable neither in content nor in form, CENTRAL PARK WEST TRILOGY is not your average novel.”
Full review here: http://www.palatinate.org.uk/?p=52129
Richard Kalich’s book is on promotion in the UK and Australia. Don’t miss it!
November 28, 2014
From “The Party” by Richard Kalich:
“The entire affair was catered by the world’s greatest chefs, and platters of sumptuous foods were served by geishas in kimonos and men in black. Champagne flowed like April rain. Every guest was given a token of appreciation for not attending, diamonds and gold; and for those who didn’t wear jewellery, thinking it ostentatious, Picassos from the Blue period. And the entertainment was world class. From the Three Tenors, Nureyev and Fontaine, to rappers and hip-hop. From chart-breakers and the current pop, to has-beens and never-was’s. Fireworks lit up the night sky before, during and after the party. Needless to say, there was something for everybody. For every taste and desire imaginable.”
October 14, 2014
“Looking at the collection as a whole, Central Park West Trilogy is a stimulating glimpse into Kalich’s unusual approach to his art and his craft, as well as his unique approach to the absurdities of life. I think Albert Camus would have approved.” — Lee Harrison
Sometime in the ’90s I acquired a strange little book called The Nihilesthete by Richard Kalich:
Not only was the cover artwork strange, but the format of the book was peculiar, being of unusually small dimensions and filled with 143 pages of tiny print on cheap paper. This was an edition published by Compac Reader Group and could be found at check-out stands of various stores, alongside gum, Slim Jims and the Weekly World News. The publishing outfit had other titles too, each small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. I don’t know if they are still around or not, but it’s been years since I’ve seen that sort of format. I don’t think that was the edition in which The Nihilesthete was originally published, but that’s the one I have.
Anyway, I didn’t read The Nihilesthete for many years and it was only when I re-discovered it…
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September 27, 2014
When we were designing the cover for “Central Park West Trilogy” with JT Lindroos, we were looking for a work of art that wouldn’t simply ‘illustrate’ the title but mirror Richard Kalich’s writing and vision. And we have found more than just one work of art: we have found the Painter. Bernard Piga’s expressionist paintings could have been inspired by Richard Kalich’s metafictions. The two artists have never met, and such an encounter is now impossible in the physical realm (Piga left us in 2008), but we are happy to have contributed to a spiritual reunion of a great Writer and a great Painter. To discover and re-discover.
More of Bernard Piga’s works: http://www.bernard-piga.com/natures.htm
September 26, 2014
“My studio apartment has all the features of an artist’s garret now. Everything careless, lackadaisical and purposefully strewn about. The only thing missing is the proverbial skylight, but I do have bay windows and a park view. Still, Montparnasse it’s not. There are canvases everywhere: rolls of canvas, stretched canvas, some stretched and mounted on canvas boards. Also a dozen paintbrushes, round and flat and long, and even more tubes of paint in all colours; Payne’s gray, burnt sienna, burnt umber, viridian, sepia, zinc white, Naples yellow, cobalt blue, yellow ochre, thalo green, venetian red. And an artist’s smock and easel, and roto tray, and turntable, and palette. Everything and anything that goes into an artist’s studio is here, plus all of Brodski’s own special equipment.
The little fellow doesn’t know what to make of it. He peers open-mouthed as I strap him to his artist’s chair—the relaxation chair with nineteen different seating positions and seventy more for the upper body—and commence attaching his arm and hand prosthesis. The occupational therapist I employed has taught me well and I know how to use each piece of equipment as well as how to staple the stretched canvas tightly to the canvas board so it won’t ripple. When he is seated at his workplace (easel) with the canvas before him and rivulets of paint already squeezed out on his plate positioner (palette), I say: PAINT.
He looks at me, at the canvas, at his surrounding, dumbfounded. Not paralyzed, but stricken in another way. As if in limbo. As if groping to understand, to come to terms with what lies before him. I am tempted to help him. It would be such a simple matter for me to demonstrate how to “finger” the paintbrush with his table writer, or, for more exact control, his pencil holder; how to, with what for him would amount to a Promethean effort, touch the canvas with his brush. But I do not. It wouldn’t be fair. The rules of the game do not permit it. The first stroke must be done by him. The discovery has to be his. The miracle must come from him alone. To be godlike, one has to create his own world. It is enough for me (now) to show him the way.
We sit there five, ten, twenty minutes; an hour passes, two. I do not say anything. Do not coax him on. Not so much as a word or hint passes from my lips. Absolute silence pervades the room. Then: he begins to move. Slowly at first, with imperceptible little stirrings of his body, followed by epileptic twitchings and wrigglings of his arms and hands.
What’s this? He’s stretching-reaching-picking up the paintbrush lying on the plate positioner in a glass cup, just begging for his use. He’s dipping it in a glob of paint. He’s . . . He’s . . . HE’S PAINTING!!! His first stroke is slow, halting, tenuous, as if a spanked child were reaching out for the object that caused him harm. He looks enthralled—no, terrified.
After his first stroke he jerks back; his paint brush drops from his utensil holder against the glass cup and pan holding the other brushes and tubes of paint, and the entire collection as well as the roto tray spills to the floor. He doesn’t even notice. Awestruck, he just continues to stare at the canvas. At a gashed slightly less than linear violet smudge: HE MADE!
A tiny wet spot wells up in his eye. A soft voluptuous half sigh, half groan, and then more tears, a sound that emanates from deep inside him, an indistinct murmur, a shriek, an ecstatic outcry, a crescendo of uncontrollable and involuntary body-racking shakes and sobs. He is crying. Really crying! Not his usual “cri du chat”; but crying like us. Like we humans do.
A half hour passes before he is able to start up again. This time by trial and error, each dip and dab of his brush reminiscent of a naked hand in a fire struggling to save a beloved object. After each new impression, he stops haltingly to examine it. Not for aesthetic reasons. He has no concern for that now. But for the sheer effect of it. The impression he is making on the canvas. ON THE WORLD! It is the first time he has ever been able to affect the world. Make his mark. HE IS PUTTING HIS STAMP ON THE WORLD!!!
After maybe another minute or two he falls back exhausted. I push his chair away from the canvas and together we look upon his creation. Grazing my hand ever so slightly on his utensil holder, as if touching the finger of God, I begin to cry. We begin to laugh and cry together. We stay there in tableau like that, both crying and laughing, the rest of the night.”
Painter’s Studio © Bernard Piga
September 11, 2014
About Charlie P, one of the novels in CENTRAL PARK WEST TRILOGY by Richard Kalich:
“There is little that resembles a plot, nor is there the kinds of tensions elicited by the more ‘conventional’ novel. Yet there is still a world, consistent in its inconsistency, and in that world a life, however unlived. In effect, Charlie P simultaneously asks how little is too little, and how much is too much, to create a coherent, believable narrative.
Charlie P is a carefully wrought novel with a deft sense of humor and a strong awareness of its place in literary discourse. With each answer it prompts new questions; with each added detail, it destabilizes certainty. For all that, readers must have temerity, curiosity and the ability to build on constantly shifting ground – or a willingness to subject themselves to the elements of the indeterminate and the multiple.
Though it is widely agreed that Emerson was right when claiming that ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds,’ the thoughtful and creative manipulation of a sustained consistency can be a challenge to the vastest and deepest of intellects. Richard Kalich is able to effect this type of consistency throughout the whole of Charlie P, an accomplishment to be admired.” – Christopher Leise, Electronic Book Review