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Posts tagged ‘Charlie P’

Interview with Richard Kalich in AM FM Magazine

March 3, 2016


“High Art can of course be found in all the disciplines, music, painting, all creative writing, film, etc.  For me…all that I define as High Art has but one categorical imperative.  It makes as its inherent demand and calling that we, as humans, stand before it and surrender ourselves wholly and completely to it.  It doesn’t happen often, but when it does:  That’s Art.”   –Richard Kalich

Full text here: On the Fecundity of the Unconsciousness as Inspiration

Anti-Valentine! Excerpt from CHARLIE P by Richard Kalich

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.”

“You do?”

“Yes. And I prefer the businessman.”


Richard Kalich’s interview on Books Go Social

January 15, 2015


“I’m not completely nihilistic. I believe that as long as we can still ask questions about the meaning of it all, there’s hope for an authentic life.”

Richard Kalich in conversation with Lucy Sweeny Byrne on Books Go Social

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“CENTRAL PARK WEST TRILOGY is not your average novel.”

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:

Richard Kalich’s book is on promotion in the UK and Australia. Don’t miss it!

Richard Kalich: “I see the world metaphorically.”

December 23, 2014


Richard Kalich in conversation with Lucy Sweeney Byrne

It is clear, when talking to Richard Kalich today, that he is a novelist whom, once you hear of him, you wonder to yourself how you haven’t heard his name before. He is not a writer one would describe as prolific. He has endured writer’s block and the terror of creative writing for a sustaining portion of his life. As he says, he’s read too much and knows all too well the standards his work will be held up against. A daunting task, he says, when your first literary Gods were no less than Dostoyevsky and Thomas Mann. This understandably has held his output down. Having said that, the works he has produced over the years, have been of exceptional quality, as is reflected in the recognition he has received from the academic and literary elite. Kalich has won The American Book Award and has been nominated for both a National Book Award and The Pulitzer, and his writing, in its daring experimentalism, surreal absurdism, and especially because of the dark demonic depths he has mined of the human interior, has been favourably compared to writers such as Kafka and Beckett. Needless to say, this is no lightweight author we’re dealing with.

I talk to Richard (he prefers to be called Dick), and almost immediately I grasp that he’s exactly what you would expect when one thinks a New York literary writer, an avant-garde post-modern novelist—and then some. Kalich is opinionated, quick-witted, funny, and simply brimming over with all of the things he has to say about the spiritual impoverishment of our contemporary age. We discuss, among other meandering subjects, the death of the word, the loss of Transcendence, the diminishment of the Self, artistic inspiration, films and musicals, and, of course, the release of his current most recent publication, Central Park West Trilogy (2014), a collection of three of his critically-acclaimed novels; The Nihilesthete (1987), Charlie P (2005) and Penthouse F (2010).


LSB: The first question I pose to Kalich, is an attempt to create a tidy summary of his writing (silly me). I say that his novels (there are four in all – added to those collected in the Trilogy is The Zoo, published in 2001) have been described by critics as ‘postmodern fables’, suggesting, by definition, that they are designed to convey a particular moral. Does he consider this a fair conception of his work? And if so, what is the moral message he is attempting to convey?

RK: No, I don’t think it’s correct to define my writing as fables. There are themes, yes, but I’m not trying to offer some categorical cure-it-all to the problematic situation of Man. I’m neither theologian nor a politician. My concern in my first novel, The Zoo, was loss of inner life. After long years of writer’s block, the novel just exploded out of me. Thirty days. All too quickly to really do it justice. With my second novel, The Nihilesthete, I was taken by the spiritual diminishment and the all-pervasive powerlessness that I felt was taking over our culture which in turn prevented and inverted my lead character’s full expression. Such is the motive-force behind the almost banal, cerebralized cruelties he harbours upon his arch-enemy, the artist, Brodski. The artist, of course, representing spiritual fecundity. The novels themselves are metaphorical. I see the world metaphorically. The first thing that happens, is that I see an image in my mind. This image is the epicentre of what I build my narrative around. It provides the beginning, middle and end for my story. The image just comes to me. It’s a sort of poetic gift. I’m told some Poets see the world like this. For example, with The Nihilesthete I saw a limbless being strapped to a wheelchair, a prosthesis attached to his arm stub which served as a hand, struggling to paint on a canvas held just out of his reach by an ominous male figure. The image gestated in me for a long time, five years, before I finally found the courage to write the book.

LSB: Why is that?

RK: Fear. Dread. The Terror of Creation. More specifically, for me it’s always been the fear of judgement. Dostoevsky or nothing. I carried that burden with me the better part of my entire adult life.

LSB: But why so hard on yourself? You never outgrew it?

Read the full interview here: Kalich interview full text


Richard Kalich’s Central Park West Trilogy, including The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F and Charlie P, is available for purchase here: (currently on promotion on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia)

Excerpt from GIFTS: Bittersweet Christmas Stories by Richard Kalich

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.”



Read or download GIFTS for free here:
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Or get an e-book here:

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Electronic Book Review about Charlie P (CENTRAL PARK WEST TRILOGY)

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

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