There You Feel Free

This week’s other featured books, “You Will Never Be Normal,” by Catherine Klatzker and “All Bleeding Stops,” by Michael J. Collins, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: There You Feel Free, 2nd Edition

PUBLISHED IN: 1st Ed 2015, 2nd Ed 2021

THE AUTHOR: Nate Ragolia

THE EDITOR: Marisa Roemer

THE PUBLISHER: Black Hill Press (1st Ed.), Spaceboy Books LLC (2nd Ed.)

SUMMARY: There You Feel Free is the story of five people whom you might call hipsters.

The Kid struggles to put his life together after his relationship, and the economy, falls apart. Cheyenne tries to define herself against the members of her kickball team. Doug faces isolation amid his long list of online friends. Paul attends a support group for struggling geniuses. And Nick battles the sinister feeling that life isn’t going as planned.

There You Feel Free by [Nate Ragolia, Marisa Roemer]

They all cross paths inside and outside a poem: a loving rewrite of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land refinished with contemporary references to indie music and pop culture. Packed with laughter, levity, reflection, and revolution, There You Feel Free captures the intricate quandary of the Millennial Generation.

Originally published by Black Hill Press / 1888 in 2014, the Second Edition presents the book with the original footnotes, reflecting the chaos and upheaval in trying to find meaning and purpose in the Millennial generation.

THE BACK STORY: In 2014, I had written a hipster-ized / indie rock-infused homage to T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, titled The(se) Waste(d) Land(ings). After engaging with the book’s original publisher Black Hill Press, then in Orange, CA, I began writing stories about the Millennial experience, to be embedded in the poem via footnotes. This book is one of the most life-inspired things I’ve ever written, and hopefully resonates with other people who grew up with landlines and now live in the time of social media, still searching for meaning and purpose. The first edition was published in 2015, and in 2021 when Black Hill Press shuttered operations, it was reissued as a second edition, using the original footnote structure that serves to break up the poem, and the stories, in mimicry of the confusing and chaotic nature of 21st Century life in America.

WHY THIS TITLE: In the original Eliot poem, there is the line: “In the mountains, there you feel free.” And since that speaks to something both beautiful and terrifying… the literary sublime, I felt that it also captured the sublime nature of modern living.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Perhaps you’re a Millennial, or you love Eliot’s work and are interested in a modernized interpretation. The stories of the five hipsters that weave between the poem’s cantos are also somewhat universal and folkloric. This is a book about finding oneself, searching for meaning, and learning to love, with the early 21st Century as its backdrop (including all the creative ups, financial downs, and perpetually changing middles).

REVIEW COMMENTS:

 “There You Feel Free does an exceptional job of balancing open satire with an incredible amount of honesty, and the ability to impact the reader in a way that feels real.” – Dani Hedlund, F(r)iction

“In the tradition of Nabokov’s Pale Fire and David Foster Wallace’s meta-commentary-as-novel, Nate Ragolia brilliantly updates T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” for a contemporary, post-ironic era marked by continual uncertainty, dissatisfaction, and borderline peril. Ragolia captures the urban, “hipster” landscape with compelling prose and dry humor; in the process, he pays tribute to the wit and complexity of Eliot while also forging a new path that could only be beaten through this creative and inspiring remix.” – Jen Moore, author of The Veronica Maneuver, Smaller Ghosts, and Easy Does It.

“There You Feel Free is unlike any other book I have ever read. It is the perfect homage to T.S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land” embedded with the struggles of five hipsters: The Kid, Cheyenne, Nick, Paul and Doug. Ragolia crafts a beautiful poem filled with love, heartbreak, anger, regret and wit. Alone this poem would have been simply an insightful homage to T.S. Eliot; however, Ragolia artfully included footnotes filled with vivid, in-depth scenes that magnifies a Millennial’s (also known as Generation Y or the Me Generation) struggle. The intricate scenes found in There You Feel Free felt similar to a Jim Jarmusch, day-in-the-life film—a gritty display of young adulthood shared with the perfect Instagram filter. There You Feel Free is truly a testament to the human condition—our ability to have passion and the desire to do great things, but live in a society that only wants to see us fail.” – Amanda Moses, The Spring Creek Sun.

“There are distant echoes of other voices—Allen Ginsberg’s and, at other times, Jack Kerouac. But Nate Ragolia dances to a different Beat. Small wonder that both the poetry and prose is seemingly scored in a musical context—concerts, DJs, all chased by riffs of cheap beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon), games and gamers, cigarettes and reefers. In the clouds of this smoke and mirrors are a herd of hipsters, haunted by a despair of sorts— drowned dreams, unrequited ambitions, near-delusional self- images and aspirations defined by a world that will neither accept nor absorb them—all but swallowed up by techno- terrorism in an Aldous Huxley-like electronic Erewhon world of screens, sites and indecipherable algorithms of a seemingly alien planet. Worse, in an effort not to ‘sell out,’ they come to the conclusion that it is they who are the ‘aliens’. They are right, of course. They are misfits in that world. But hope springs eternal expressed in a monologue of sorts by the principal protagonist railing against a ‘nowhere’ and a numbness of the mind and soul.” – Diane Root, painter, The New York Times Magazine published writer, and editor.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Nate Ragolia grew up in rural Colorado reading science fiction and comics, and imagining strange worlds beyond our own. He was labeled as “weird” by a girl in his first grade class and it stuck. These days, he’s a writer and publisher in Denver. He’s authored the books, There You Feel Free, and The Retroactivist, co-founded Spaceboy Books LLC (readspaceboy.com), and edits BONED: A collection of skeletal writings (bonedstories.wordpress.com). He also dabbles in webcomics, The Illiterate Badger (2009 – 2016, illiteratebadger.com) and The Right Corking Adventures of Cecil Larkbunting and Alastair Wakerobin (2013 – present, larkandrobin.com). When not creating, he’s spending time with his wife, petting his dogs, and voraciously devouring other peoples’ works.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: It’s interesting how quickly life, and the world changes. This book was written in 2014 and 2015, and there are ways in which it may seem quaint now, but also ways that the commentary on war and economics and individual purpose versus community ring truer than ever.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). https://www.amazon.com/There-Feel-Free-Nate-Ragolia/dp/1951393090/

LOCAL OUTLETS: Any store can special order it at your request.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/There-Feel-Free-Nate-Ragolia/dp/1951393090/), Bookshop.org (https://bookshop.org/books/there-you-feel-free-9781951393090/9781951393090), Barnes & Noble (coming soon), and by request from any local book store.
PRICE: $9.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: You can find me on Facebook at @NateRagoliaAuthor and on Twitter at @nateragolia.

Published by

bridgetowriters

Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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