PRESS RELEASE 02/20/2013 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from a Cold War, a Novel, (Sunbury Press, Feb. 2013), Joseph Carvalko.
We Were Beautiful Once is a psychologically complex courtroom novel that builds an intriguing web of events, creating a sustained sense of anticipation from chapter to chapter in the mold of John Grisham’s The Pelican Brief, where trial lawyer Nick Castalano tries to uncover the fate of Roger Girardin, MIA during the Korean War, and discovers he may have been murdered in a POW camp. Before the war, Jack O’Conner, Hamilton, Girardin and Julie, Girardin’s girlfriend and Jack’s sister, hung out. In part the story follows the lives of the survivors, who after the war, with Roger’s disappearance and Jack and Trent having spent years in a North Korean hell-hole, change dramatically, notably Jack goes through life teetering on the edge of insanity (believing he may have killed Girardin) and that his murderous act will be discovered by his sister, who waits her entire life for Roger’s return.
Josip Novakovich wrote: “Carvalko has written a wonderful military mystery novel, with great authentic details and deep psychological insights–a thrilling trip into our past.” Novakovich is a current nominee for the Man Booker International Prize 2013, Whiting Writers’ Award recipient and bestselling author of April Fool’s Day, Yolk, Salvation and Other Disasters, Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust.
Da Chen wrote: “Carvalko writes with such convincing realism and lyricism that I was at once brought into the landscape of his literary vision and grip of his storytelling. His prose is wiry and wise, steely yet soulful. His tales are tethered to real life, lived and thoroughly pondered. In right light, he is a cross between James Patterson and Scott Turow, only wiser and much more generous.” Chen is New York Times bestselling author of Colors of the Mountain, a memoir, Brothers, a novel, and My Last Empress, a novel.
Joseph Carvalko is an American writer, lawyer born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The novel, We Were Beautiful Once, Chapters from a Cold War was inspired by a case he tried in Federal Court to locate a Korean War POW. A 2004 documentary “Missing, Presumed Dead: The Search for America’s POWs” narrated by Ed Asner details his trial efforts. In addition to numerous professional and academic writing, other of his publications include: The Techno-Human Shell-A Jump in the Evolutionary Gap (2012), which details the rapid rise in cyborg-like technology; A Road Once Traveled, Life from All Sides (2007); and A Deadly Fog (2004). In 2012, he was one of two finalists for the 2012 Red Mountain Press Prize for Poetry, for The Interior, A Memoir; and one of three finalists for the 2012 Esurance Poetry prize, for his poem The Road Home. When he is not writing, he plays jazz piano. He, his wife Susie and four cats live between the Connecticut and Florida coastal areas.
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All in the Family: MFA Alum A.J. O’Connell’s Interview of MFA Alum (and book prize winner) Nick Knittel
I expected someone older when I met Nick Knittel. It was 2009 and Knittel was part of my second-ever workshop at Fairfield University’s low-residency MFA program. He’d submitted a story about two little boys who’d lost their mother. Because the story featured a compassionate father, that’s kind of who I expected when I checked in on Enders Island.
Instead I met a young man, just out of undergrad, who could write a mean piece of short fiction.
Two years later, Knittel won our MFA program’s inaugural book prize (judged by poet Charles Simic) for “Good Things,” a collection of deep, quiet short stories. The book was released by New Rivers Press in October 2012. Now that first story I read – the one about the grieving little boys – is available for all to read, along with nine others.
For entire interview, please click here
- In Corporeality, Hollis Seamon’s latest fiction collection, we meet the cat lady, the professor dealing with a plagiarist while coping with personal hardships, sibling rivalry of the unnaturally cursed kind, the dog that goes beyond everyday dog sense and scent to protect its owners. These are some of the eclectic characters and settings that make Corporeality irresistible and difficult to put down once you’ve started reading. Like her preceding collection Body Work and mystery novel Flesh, this book is a testament to Seamon’s ample gifts as a storyteller.
PRAISE FOR CORPOREALITY:
Hollis Seamon’s Corporeality is a wonderful collection of stories, dazzling and unsentimental, full of everyday tragedies, fairy-tale motifs, and rambunctious, life-affirming characters who stand up to bullies and to fate, whether in a hospice, a flophouse, or a university classroom. It’s a feast of language that you won’t soon forget.
—Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative and Alone with the Owl
The characters in Corporeality are smart. Smart enough to see that the world is chaos and decay, but sometimes too smart for their jobs, whether they’re professors or trash collectors. And they are way too smart for their undependable bodies, which is the great rub of Hollis Seamon’s fine and original stories. How do we cope, these carefully calibrated stories ask, when our minds grow daily more perceptive and sharp and witty, yet the darkness still approaches?
—Dave King, author of The Ha-Ha
What a magical collection! Hollis Seamon’s enchanting stories will make you marvel anew at the forever strange, blessed, and heart-breaking affliction we share as human beings on this earth. Seamon’s lovingly-rendered characters will linger in your memory for a long, long time.
—Edward Schwarzschild, author of Responsible Men
These stories make memorable the people you wonder about in passing—the cat lady, the deformed, the witness to a questionable death, the professor who walks out of class never to return, the teen boy in hospice, the neighbors of the crazy, victims of acts of god, the loveless and forlorn. Written with both humor and pathos, the quirky characters in Hollis Seamon’s stories drew me in and left me, as she writes, “astonished by life.”
—Eugenia Kim, author of The Calligrapher’s Daughter
These stories have grace, wit, adventure, danger, humor, compassion, magic, and rage. Hollis Seamon casts full and dazzling light on those who are often overlooked—teenaged lovebirds in hospice, flood victims before the flood, plagiarists, arsonists, old ladies, fat dogs. She brings them to life so tenderly and powerfully that they stay with you, long after the last page.
—Nalini Jones, author of What You Call Winter
Nabokov meets Dream of the Red Chamber.
“Chen (Brothers, 2006, etc.), a Chinese-born writer and now resident of New York’s Hudson Valley, has a profoundly developed feel for the sweep of history—though here, unlike in Brothers, he compresses what might have been a saga into 300 pages. His story has an epic feel all the same: Samuel Pickens, a Yankee born into wealth and privilege, falls into head-swooning love with the daughter of a New England missionary who has spent her youth in China.”
To read the entire review please click here !
“Spare, tightly constructed and meticulously crafted, these stories tell of lives of lower-middle-class Americans, the isolated and marginalized people many of our contemporary writers somehow manage not to notice. These are tough, realistic and well-told stories. Knittel has a deep understanding of his characters and their complicated and often hopeless circumstances, but he doesn’t judge them. He writes of them with compassion, and, as he does, the reader cannot help but be moved too.” – Charles Simic
The MFA program at Fairfield University was one of the greatest experiences I could have had as a writer. Nestled on the beautiful Enders Island, the program provided a solid and tight-knit community of students that, by the end of the first day, felt less like a group of strangers meeting for the first time and more like the long-lost family I never knew I had. It is a vibrant, diverse, and highly talented group of individuals that raised my skills as a writer higher than I ever thought possible. The two years of education, inspiration, and friendships have created a lifetime of memories. – Nick Knittel
THE WHIPPING CLUB – Deborah Henry
“The Whipping Club takes us to mid-20th-century Ireland, where a good Catholic girl decides to give up her half-Jewish child for adoption. Secrecy, lifelong guilt, and remorse aren’t even half of what she and the child will suffer in Deborah Henry’s novel.”
—O – Oprah Magazine July Summer Reading Issue 2012
“Henry weaves multilayered themes of prejudice, corruption and redemption with an authentic voice and swift, seamless dialogue. Her prose is engaging, and light poetic touches add immediacy. Echoing the painful lessons of the Jewish Holocaust, Henry’s tale reveals what happens when good people remain silent. A powerful saga of love and survival.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“The prose of The Whipping Club is gripping, and almost poetic in its emotional depth, while the research is concise and accurate, and the story haunting…The Whipping Club holds the promise of a long and meaningful career for Deborah Henry as a serious writer. Bravo!”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer?
“Set in 1960?s Ireland, Henry’s riveting debut novel explores the?far-reaching effects of a single decision.”
“Deborah Henry’s eloquent, magnificently designed novel . . . A story that will draw out every straw of emotion in your soul. This is the best novel I have read in three years.”—Herald de Paris
“Deborah Henry’s The Whipping Club echoes in my thoughts the way only a truly great novel can resonate. Eloquent yet never mannered, it captures the four corners of the Irish psyche: mirth, love, fortitude and tragedy. Now stop reading the review and buy the bloody book.”—San Francisco Book Review
“Henry dives headlong into deep, often dark issues with the consummate skill and finesse of a seasoned writer.”
—MPH Quill Magazine – Malaysia and Western Australia
“Henry’s debut novel is immensely assured, grabbing the reader from the first page. It’s the kind of debut that publishers dream of, confident, clear and appealing to a wide audience.”
–Cahir O’Doherty, longtime arts editor for The Irish Voice, Irish America and IrishCentral.com
“Author Deborah Henry has said about the writing of her debut novel: “I wrote The Whipping Club because what I found hidden, I needed to uncover.” An understatement, no doubt, as first novels of this scope aren’t written by merely turning over a rock. That had to be at very least a sizeable boulder, and the courage to write it equally so.”
–The Smoking Poet
“Deborah Henry is a natural storyteller and she is far more.
Her novel The Whipping Club is a compelling read, but it also seriously explores the terrible ways the world –as a society, as individuals — often fails its children. And most importantly, her book offers a searingly lovely vision of how wrongs can be made right. Deborah Henry is a splendid young novelist who deserves a wide audience.”
—Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler
“The Whipping Club is an intimate, assured first novel, the story of Marian McKeever and her child hidden by cruelty and custom. It rings with the authenticity of shame and courage. You can put it down but you will not forget it.”
—Jacquelyn Mitchard, best-selling author of The Deep End of the Ocean
“Deb Henry’s debut novel, The Whipping Club, is a wonderful portrait of a world seldom depicted in fiction, that of a small Jewish enclave in early 20th century Ireland. Echoing Joyce’ Ulysses, the novel nonetheless creates its own compelling vision, peopled by vivid characters and compelling voices. With near pitch-perfect dialogue, the story’s long-buried secrets compel the reader forward in a way that is both intriguing and heart-wrenching. The novel is at once a love story and a tale of redemption, following a brave woman’s struggle not only to fit in a world dominated by bigotry and ignorance, but to succeed and find her own home in the world. The Whipping Club introduces us to a new and exciting voice in fiction.”
—Michael White, best-selling author of Soul Catcher and Beautiful Assassin
“The Whipping Club at once evokes a hauntingly beautiful literary landscape, engaging me immediately. Henry writes with great passion, deep vulnerability and sharpest prose about perils and plights, joy and triumph. Commanding a winsome literary voice, Henry would go far to tell many a tale. And she should.”
—Da Chen, best-selling author of Colors of the Mountain and Sounds of the River
“The Whipping Club, which is set in 1960s Ireland, is a family drama that unflinchingly confronts prejudice and violence in Catholic orphanages, in the ghettoized Jewish community, and in Northern Irish Troubles. The world’s madness plays out in Marian and Ben’s family. Through their secrets and lies come redemption and hope. Deborah Henry is a novelist who is fearless in her gaze and compassionate in her heart. This book is on fire.”
—Martine Bellen, author of The Vulnerability of Order
“Deborah Henry’s The Whipping Club gripped me from the beginning. Henry beautifully evokes the terrifying journey in and out of church-run systems in a heart wrenching and lyrical manner. She creates a frighteningly authentic world of authority gone mad and the long term effects of abuse. Her provocative novel is very timely in today’s Ireland which still suffers from the ghosts of those whose lives were destroyed. Yet what makes Deborah’s book so unique is that she transcends the horror and gives us the hope of the human spirit through her words and her characters. Henry has a great future ahead of her. A beautiful writer and a stunning debut.”?—Alan Cooke, Irish filmmaker and writer, winner of a 2009 Emmy for Home
Exquisitely written, unflinching and spare, The Whipping Club is the haunting portrait of a family that challenges a system whose chilling atrocities toward children are at once beyond comprehension and altogether real. Deborah Henry is a gifted storyteller. The steely realism of her prose, her fiercely drawn characters and startling plot twists make The Whipping Club one of those rare novels that linger in the mind long after the last page is turned.
—Dawn Tripp, best-selling author of Game of Secrets
“Harrowing, haunting, and brilliantly written, Henry’s stunner of a novel is about secrets, so-called sins, and the way even the deepest scars can begin to heal. So breathtakingly good it seems burned into your heart.”
—Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You
“A story of survival, redemption, and the courage that is born of love. One of my favorite reads of the decade!”
—Susan Henderson, author of Up From The Blue
“Deb Henry is a writer of impressive parts adding up to an irresistible whole: an ear for dialogue, an eye for what body language reveals, and the heart of a natural storyteller who knows how to keep readers reading.”
—Lary Bloom, playwright and author of The Writer Within
Chris Belden’s novel Carry-on was published in January 2012 by Rain Mountain Press.
In this dark and achingly funny debut novel, Chris Belden chronicles one man’s dizzying spiral into obsession and loneliness after the sudden breakup of his marriage. Bereft and plagued by anxiety, Caleb journeys from heat wave-stricken New York City to the Pacific Northwest in search of relief, self-discovery and love, only to find that we always drag our baggage with us—literally and figuratively.
Click here to see a Q&A with the author about the novel.
“Osborn’s powerful novel, set during the dog days of summer in a small Midwestern town in 1967, begins with a bang when a man bombs the drugstore employing his estranged wife. The tragedy devastates a community just beginning to feel the repercussions of the escalating Vietnam War and the growing civil rights movement, and Osborn focuses on four individuals to map the intersections of local drama and a world in upheaval. Already troubled by decisions confronting members of his flock, a minister falls from grace when the presumed dead bomber surreptitiously seeks his counsel. The minister’s own daughter narrowly escaped the bombing, a coincidence that leaves her confused and ignites her adolescent anger and angst, framing her as a compelling window into the ’60s youth movement. The druggist’s widow quells her grief with an act of redemptive creation, and a policeman desperately hunts the bomber, all the while struggling to train the force’s first black officer amid an atmosphere of casual racism. Osborn (Patchwork), employing a restrained ruthlessness, maintains the tension throughout, and appropriately refuses easy outs for a satisfying conclusion.” From Publisher’s Weekly
For more information, please go to: http://www.karenosborn.net/
Fairfield University MFA graduate publishes brutally honest memoir
David Fitzpatrick, a 2011 graduate of Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing program, has turned a lifetime battling self-destructive psychosis into a searing memoir that is gaining acclaim for its honesty and hopefulness. Fitzpatrick will discuss “Sharp,” his look back at years of institutionalization, and the healing and writing process on Wednesday, August 22 at 7 p.m. at Fairfield University Bookstore, 1499 Post Road, Fairfield. The talk is free and open to the public.
“Sharp” details Fitzpatrick’s 17-year battle with self-injury, in which he was compelled to cut himself with razor blades to relieve his inner torment, leading to multiple stays in mental health facilities. While still in treatment for bipolar disorder, he reached out to award-winning novelist Wally Lamb, a Connecticut writer he admires who encouraged Fitzpatrick to tell his story.
“While reading ‘Sharp,’ I was at turns frightened, appalled, enlightened, and overcome with sadness,” said Lamb, author of bestsellers such as “She’s Come Undone” and “The Hour I First Believed.” “Throughout I was fully engaged and, by book’s end, reassured about the triumph of the human spirit and the healing power of a family’s patient and abiding love. For those of us who seek a better understanding of mental illness, David Fitzpatrick’s ‘Sharp’ is a must read, remarkably told.”
Lamb and Fitzpatrick will read from their works together at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 24 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at 2289 Broadway (at 82nd Street) in New York City.
Fitzpatrick entered Fairfield’s MFA program in the winter of 2008, joining other aspiring writers on Ender’s Island, off Mystic, for four 10-day residencies over two years. Writers in the low-residency program work independently with an advisor for most of the year, but enjoy the residencies as times for constructive criticism and encouragement from each other.
It was on Ender’s Island that he met writer Lary Bloom, who, like Lamb, has taught in the program. He found Fitzpatrick shy, but compassionate and insightful. “When it came time to go over his piece, and for us to offer suggestions for it, I was stumped,” Bloom wrote in a recent story for Connecticut Magazine. “Only once before as editor or teacher had I been in such a situation: When I read David’s 20-page essay about some of his worst days, I was stunned both by its power and its craft. There wasn’t a single comma I wanted to change. Believe me, that is rare.”
Fitzpatrick worked with an old friend who is a literary agent, but they initially received the rejections most aspiring writers know all too well. Then Lamb stepped in and asked his editors at HarperCollins to read the memoir, which they agreed to publish. It hits bookstores on August 21.
Early reviews of the book have been positive. Publishers Weekly called it “mesmeric,” and author Kate Christensen (“The Great Man”) said, “‘Sharp’ is a courageously honest book by a gentle, damaged soul who fought his way to the light with a ferocity he never thought he possessed.”
Lamb and Fitzpatrick will also read from their works together at 7 p.m. on Monday, September 24 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at 2289 Broadway (at 82ndStreet) in New York City.
Author Michael White, director of Fairfield’s MFA program, isn’t surprised by the accolades. “What makes this memoir so riveting and so unforgettable isn’t the myriad of horrors that its narrator inflicts upon himself,” he said. “It’s the razor-sharp humor and abiding wisdom and depth of humanity with which its author graces the reader. Sharp cuts deep into your heart.”
Fitzpatrick, who lives in Middletown, Conn., with his wife, graphic designer Amy Holmes, has also been published in Fiction Weekly, The New Haven Review and Barely South Review. He is currently writing a novel.
He credits the MFA program with making his writing dreams come true.
“On Ender’s Island, I found inspiring faculty and fellow writing students that pushed me, that made me pick my game up and bring it to the next level,” he said. “My two years was a wonderful experience, and now I’ve got great friends in a writing community to keep me connected.”
For more information on Fairfield’s MFA in Creative Writing program, visit www.fairfield.edu/mfa.
Reprinted from Fairfield University Press Releases
By Meredith Guinness
Deborah Henry spent two years crafting her first novel in Fairfield University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program and all her hard work has paid off: The Whipping Club (T.S. Poetry, March 2012) has been named one of Oprah Winfrey’s must-reads for summer in O Magazine.
Set in mid-20th-century Ireland, the novel centers on a “good Catholic girl” who decides to give up her half-Jewish child for adoption. “Secrecy, lifelong guilt, and remorse aren’t even half of what she and the child will suffer in Deborah Henry’s novel,” according to the recommendation in “O‘s 2012 Summer Reading List,” which includes 33 books.
Henry, a Fairfield resident who received her MFA in July 2011, said “this particular recognition from Oprah Magazine, Oprah.com and the O – Oprah app for iPad is really exciting for me because I am a huge admirer of Oprah Winfrey. Her appreciation of art and how books in particular can make a difference in the world resonates with me. The Whipping Club is a historical novel but the major issues are still relevant today. Eight years of writing and rewriting, this accolade from Oprah brings huge joy.”
The O pick is just one of the many accolades Henry received for The Whipping Club. She has received strong reviews from top trade magazines and newspapers including Publishers Weekly, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Herald de Paris and notably, a starred Kirkus Review that calls The Whipping Club “a powerful saga of love and survival.” Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler calls Henry “a natural storyteller who deserves a wide audience. Her novel The Whipping Club is a compelling read, but it also seriously explores the terrible ways the world – as a society, as individuals – often fails its children,” he said. “And most importantly, her book offers a searingly lovely vision of how wrongs can be made right.”
She’s likely to find that wide audience now that she’s been recognized by Winfrey’s organization. A recommendation from the popular former talk show host, who now has her own television network, often sends books to the top of the bestseller list.
“Deb Henry’s novel, The Whipping Club, is an enormously compelling and readable story,” said Michael White, Ph.D., director of Fairfield’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. “It was a joy to see her and her novel develop in our MFA program. We are all very proud of her and her success, and look forward to many more books from her.”