- UNDER THE TABLE BOOKS
Zany, yet deeply meaningful adventures of an ersatz family of eccentrics living in and around an anarchist bookstore. With drawings by the author.
Set in an anarchist bookstore somewhere in Northern California, Under the Table Books is a collection of thought-provoking tales that, when read sequentially, comprise a novel. Extremely contemporary, yet anachronistic and timeless, the stories illuminate the lives of a collective of artists and renegades — an ersatz family of gentle social outcasts — for whom the bookstore is home, community center, and a grand experiment in pragmatic mysticism.
The main characters are Lord Bellmaster, a poet and the instigator of the collective; his partner Jenny, a painter; Moustafa Kahlil, a baker, Frisbee guru and penny ante broker; Mrs. Armitage a.k.a. the cat lady; Denny, the book scavenger who ranges far and wide in his school bus looking for books; Peter Franklin, a dead ringer for the late great Alec Guinness; Derek, a ten-year old genius; Mr. Laskin, a homeless savant who claims to have once been the richest man on earth; Natasha, a brown-skinned singer extraordinaire; Z, Natasha's most ardent suitor; Ben, Natasha's white-skinned brother and a master chef; Pinky Jones, a former television star turned recluse and recently returned to the world of people; Tomas, master guitarist and migraine mitigation expert; Iris and Leona Spinelli, identical twin eighty-eight year old sisters; and Numero Uno, poet laureate of the commune.
As these fascinating and funny individuals go through their changes large and small, the collective changes with them, for the bookstore is as much a character as any of the people who reside and work and love therein. And as their personal struggles mirror the challenges facing the world at large, they are inexorably drawn into larger dramas transcendent of their separate personal dramas.
In the end…well, I don't want to spoil all the fun. We plan to publish this book in the not-too-distant future.
- BENDER'S LOVER
A contemporary musical mystery love story told by a fabulous piano player.
I wrote Bender's Lover in 2000 and rewrote it in 2002. This is a novel told in First Person by one Felix Bender. An eccentric musician, Felix lives in an old house in San Francisco and derives his minimalist income from playing piano and giving piano lessons. His playing and teaching techniques are so unorthodox as to be virtually inexplicable — yet Felix tries again and again to capture in words the experience of making music improvised from the emotions of the moment.
Our story begins when Felix is called to play piano for Lucy Lundy, a superb chanteuse singing in the Venetian Room of the Fairmount Hotel. Despite her initial wariness of a pianist who can't read music, Lucy and Felix synergize to give a transcendent performance that wows the audience and ignites a series of events that bring Felix face-to-face with several amazing characters, among them an Armenian gambler, a mysterious femme fatale (the love of his life?) and a man who turns out to be one of the most powerful people on earth.
Most definitely a comedy and a romance, we almost sold this book to Viking in 2002, but the editor there who loved it could not convince Sales to take a chance with me, and thus the book remains a manuscript.
- THE SEXUAL FRIEND
A contemporary emotional saga recounting a key year in nine interlocking lives.
The Sexual Friend is a contemporary novel set in Berkeley and San Francisco involving eight fascinating humans and a number of equally interesting animals. The story is centered around Edward, a youthful middle-aged man. At the outset of the novel, Adele and Maureen — accomplished artists — are Edward's lovers by an arrangement they, not he, invented. When Edward invites a young homeless woman named Cindy and her young son Timothy to share his house — and shortly thereafter he moves with them into the big house of an extraordinary healer named Mrs. Millicent — the plot quickens and thickens. Spanning one year, the novel is divided into four sections. The other lead characters are Diana, a ghost writer, and Olga, a martial artist.
This saga of intertwining lives is as much about single people in middle age questing for meaningful ways to live their lives as it is about sexual relations, though sex is the aperture through which much of the questing is framed. I completed this novel in 2006.
- TWO RIVERS
A novel of redemption set among the poor and the crazy of Sacramento.
Two Rivers was completed in 1986. Two literary agents tried valiantly for some years to place the book with major publishers, and each succeeded in winning the support of editors who were, alas, unable to convince Sales (the new rulers of the publishing world) to take a chance with such an "experimental" novel.
Two Rivers is set in the underbelly of Sacramento, California, and involves a young man who becomes obsessed with a psychotic Vietnam veteran and the world of outcasts wherein he wanders. I spent three years writing and rewriting this book, which is as much an epic poem as it is a novel.