No Man’s Brooklyn Reading

For those who wish to tune in and take a trip through the ol’ neighborhood, I will be reading from my novel, No Man’s Brooklyn, as part of the Southern Colorado University reading series.

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Inspiration Runs Warm

A golden mantra of a passage from David Mack’s KABUKI: The Alchemy:

“I find that to accomplish anything, you need initiative, persistence, discipline and will. And most of all the decision to just do it. And to set it in motion. The conventional idea of talent is an illusion. So many people have a natural talent and do nothing with it. You must do something in order for your talent to show up. You don’t just wait for it to show up and do nothing. And some people know they have a talent and passion for something but do nothing with it because they are waiting for someone to validate them, or to give them a job, or guarantee them some kind of security before they pursue it. So they never do it. It doesn’t work that way. You do the work first. And then you get the ripple effect. Not the other way around. You have to set it in motion for your talent to emerge and shape itself. You start something even if you are not sure how to finish it. You see the first stepping stone and you jump to that. You can only see the next stepping stone after you get to the first one. Not before. At each jump, the next stepping stone comes into view. But every creative endeavor begins with a certain leap of faith.”

Artwork by David Mack

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Seeds

The heart is the first organ which develops in embryo.

Remember that, next time you have sworn off inspiration,

or the marvels abounding in that speck of moonlight you swallowed

on the day your heart met your mouth, and you hungered

for divinest means.

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Rise

Infinite potential

is a glimmer and a wink,

a nod from the moon to the tides,

where you agree to go under

a spell,

and sing yourself to rise,

in the poached dark.

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Oh, the Places You’ll Sow!

Nothing can be done except a little at a time. This Baudelaire quote has been one of my mantras, one of my steady running mates since as long as I can remember.

The world runs on inspiration. Warm fevers, lightning sieges, happy contagions, shared fates, fool’s moons and their little dogs yipping.

The world, in its base molecular structure, is inspiration manifest. A three and four D show in a mutable multiplex. Ah, there you are. You, the movie. You, the screen. You, the projector. You the film-reel that burns in the sun and twists into origami refuse. So beautiful, so beautiful.

Imagination runs amok, because it wants to catch you with your pants down. Your head in the clouds. Your ground in your feet shuffling sideways to a neverending beat. Stagnation signals death. Inspiration makes guests and hostesses of us all.

We are cheerleaders for our own spirit-being. For the being-ness of others. Pom-poms are our birthright. Inspiration turns us into favored fools.

Kiss the back of your hand, and rest assured that the universe wants to make out with you under the bleachers some Sunday afternoon, or in the shadows of an attic where your dreams turn over nightly.

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Kabuki

Just finished reading David Mack’s KABUKI graphic novel series, The Alchemy, and it is everything that is good and true and essential about art, story, and the twin worlds of spirit and imagination. A masterpiece on multiple levels, that keenly touches upon identity, loss, self-fulfillment, dreamscaping, inspiration, hope, compassion, and learning to trust in and abide by the trail of existential bread crumbs which generate patterns of personal meaning in the walking of one’s path.

What more can I say about Kabuki, this treasure found which has got the goblins in my brain doing cartwheels, and a thousand inner monkeys standing in for Hamlet and jitterbugging with a remixed Ophelia?

Kabuki: religions have been founded on less.

Kabuki, in which Gustav Klimt is channeled through medium savvy, and tours the Bardo hand in hand with the Sandman, while free jazz plays in a cubist lounge and melted crayons are offered in place of drink.

Kabuki o Kabuki, bopping and grooving to recursive pop (scratch … bring it back) bopping and grooving to recursive pop in a house of origami folding in on itself. Mirrors everywhere. The shape of broken water reflecting like water seeking its own level.

Kabuki destroying the snooze button. Offering solace to the disturbed, and compansionship to the lonely. Holding fast to dreams like milk and honey in the mouths of babes. Collage consciousness manifest, and paper cut outs from the ether.

Kabuki say (fortune cookie crumbles style): Quest is best. Leave here yesterday to find tomorrow now.

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Brooklyn in Taos

Review of No Man’s Brooklyn in this week’s edition of the Taos News, as well as an interview about the novel, growing up in Brooklyn, and the writing life.

No Man’s Brooklyn
by John Biscello
CSF Publishing (2021, 164 pp.)

“Anya, a ghost from my past life who had been more alive in my heart than perhaps anyone else.”

Narrator Daniel Trovato’s life, at 37, has been filled with “Anya-agains.” A writer living in Los Angeles, Daniel has written about the troubled Anya – his childhood friend from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn – obsessively in his work. “Anya, who in varied incarnations I had loved and killed off in many different ways in different stories. Yet I always resurrected her, or parts of her, through the recycled guises of other women.”

Now Daniel, sober three years and gaining a kind of cult following from his graphic novel The Sworn Witness, receives the news that Anya has died, probably by overdose.

His old friend from Bensonhurst, Charlie, one of the so-called Dirtbags of the Universe, as the guys called themselves, delivers the news by phone: “But f– up people do f– up shit,” Charlie says. “That’s just the way it goes.”

For Daniel, the news is shocking, yes, but complicated, as it brings up unresolved feelings both about Anya, whom he loved although they could never quite make it as a couple, and his own mother, who also died by overdose when he was a young teenager. He is sure his mother died by suicide, but his gruff, hard-drinking dad, Louie, won’t hear of it.

Daniel resolves to return to Brooklyn, for the first time in 10 years, ostensibly for a comic book convention in New York. But he is revisiting the scene of the crime, as it were, his Bensonhurst neighborhood. The slender novel sways delicately between the memories of the past – involving Anya, always – and navigating the coarse interactions with his old pals from the Italian Catholic ‘hood and his unlovely father.

Is Daniel looking for Anya, or for himself? Taos author and poet John Biscello (“Nocturne Variations”, “Moonglow on Mercy Street”, etc.) endows narrator Daniel with a Holden Caulfield kind of guilelessness and sincerity, and it becomes increasingly clear that he is much like the Sworn Witness character of his graphic novel, merely a voice, a bodiless observer inhabited by shadows.

Read the full review here. 
And the interview.

 

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No Man’s Brooklyn

I am happy to announce that my fourth novel, No Man’s Brooklyn, has officially been released. Books can be ordered through Amazon  or other online booksellers.

For those who wish to order a copy directly from me, I will have a limited number of signed copies available for purchase. Contact me for details.

Reviewers are also welcome to contact me, if interested in obtaining a digital copy for review.

From the valentine boneyards of working-class Brooklyn, comes a tale of first love, lost innocence, tragedy, and healing. Daniel Trovato, having left his native Bensonhurst years ago to start a new life in L.A., is recently sober and enjoying cult success through his Sworn Witness series of graphic novels. When he receives word that his childhood love, Anya, has died from an overdose, he is compelled to return to the “old neighborhood.” It is there that he will walk through the ghostly twilight of an unfinished past, and revisit both the romantic lore and shadow life of his youth. The enduring torch he’s carried for Anya, “the girl from nowhere,” who was found in a trash can and adopted by a Russian family; the hazy circumstances of his mother’s suicide when he was fourteen; glacial estrangement from his father; the street-and-concrete beats and rhythms of an urban boyhood.

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Recursively Yours

Anya, a ghost from my past life who had been more alive in my heart than perhaps anyone else.
Anya, who in varied incarnations I had loved and killed off in many different ways in different stories. Yet I always resurrected her, or parts of her, through the recycled guises of other women.
Anya, to whose absence I had remained faithful.

Excerpt from No Man’s Brooklyn
Coming soon from CSF Publishing
Photo by Anthony Distefano

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Rainy Night

Something in me couldn’t bear the prospect of sitting next to Anya on the train, of us talking. I didn’t want there to be any words between us. Ours had become a ghost story and I wanted silence to fulfill its arc.

Excerpt from No Man’s Brooklyn
Coming soon from CSF Publishing
Photo by Anthony Distefano

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