Two Californias

This week’s other featured books, “O, and Green,” by Paul Hoover and “Crossing Kansas with Jim Morrison,” by Lindsey Martin-Bowen, 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: Two Californias.

PUBLISHED IN: November 2019.

THE AUTHOR: Robert Glick.

THE PUBLISHER: C&R Press. Conscious & Responsible Press is an independent press that has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry since 2006.

SUMMARY: Quirky, bittersweet, and darkly funny, Robert Glick laces the psychological realism of family drama with lyric, associative language and intricate plot structures. A young boy goes on a quest to buy an elephant pendant that he believes will save his parents’ marriage. An anarchist, channeling his rage from his father’s premature death, starts an underground needle exchange program. Trapped between his alcoholic pharmacist boss and his best friend, who is illegally trafficking Ritalin, a teenager learns empathy through Ms. Pacman and elder care homes. From the suburbs of Los Angeles to the countercultures of the Bay Area, the emotionally powerful, intricately woven stories in Two Californias explore the unexpected and unorthodox ways we come to terms with everyday tragedies.

THE BACK STORY: The stories in this collection came together over time. The oldest story (“Release,” or “Zombie 1” as I call it) came out in 2007, when I was still living in Amsterdam; the novella “Failure Mechanism” didn’t come out until 2017, by which time I had moved to Rochester. I didn’t think of the stories as a cohesive unit, however, until I realized how important place (California in particular) was to all of them.

WHY THIS TITLE?: Two Californias was, in fact, the third title I had come up with (earlier: Irreversibilities and Hotel Grand Abyss). Each title encapsulated the book in a particular way; yet Two Californias did a bit extra. In its simplest sense, each story takes place in California, and setting (or feeling) matters a great deal. But for me, it also did something at a deeper level. People are always talking about there being “two Californias;” Socal and Nocal. As someone who grew up in Los Angeles and came of age in the Bay Area, that binary made no sense to me, and did injustice to the complexity of the state (and its extraordinarily diverse inhabitants). From there, the notion of there being only two Californias also represented the ridiculousness of all binary or overly simple systems, and I hoped that the characters and situations in the book evoked the complexity of our lived existence.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I hope, of course, that the book will reach people who love short stories, literary fiction, and stories set in California. The stories sometimes employ unorthodox structures and time signatures, and so this book will also appeal to people who enjoy voice-driven, character-based stories that work in ways that run slightly against the grain of traditional short stories.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“What a rollickingly alive debut! —Aimee Bender.

“Disturbing, tender, revelatory, and gorgeously expansive, Two Californias offers provocative pleasures even as it delivers us to the endless grief of desire, the bewildering repercussions of kindness, the terrible cost of unveiled devotion. Readers fierce enough to plunge to the depths of their own fears will be exhilarated by the emotional complexity, abiding humanity, and transcendent beauty of this eloquent collection. —Melanie Rae Thon.

“Two Californias is a fizzing, crackling, nightmarish wonderfest. I was in from the dusty oaks in the first paragraph to the rattlesnake in the last. “—Laird Hunt.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I teach creative writing, electronic literature, and the occasional course on zombies at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Excerpts from my novel-in-progress, THE ASTERISMS, have won the Summer Literary Seminars and New Ohio Review fiction prizes; other sections have been published in The Collagist and The Los Angeles Review. Having passed through Los Angeles, Oakland, Amsterdam, and Salt Lake City, I now live in Rochester, NY with my partner Anne Royston, our dog Toby, and our untitled newborn.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: “One of my hopes is that readers will have intellectual questions to grapple with alongside the emotional conundrums the characters face. In this light, the book often makes reference to other works of art, writing, philosophy, or politics. A conversation I had with the fiction writer Andrew Farkas (https://www.theliteraryreview.org/book-review/authors-andrew-farkas-androbert-glick-in-conversation/) opens out these questions in what I hope are some evocative
ways.

SAMPLE:

Here’s the opening from the first story in the collection, “In the Room / Memory is / White”:

Around the corner from the Mulhouse’s adobe-tiled two-bedroom, teenagers hang out on a short, hilly dirt road. It’s a few blocks from the high school. When necessary, they retreat behind the dusty scattered white oaks. It is rarely necessary. Dorian stands at the top of the hill, kicking odd-sized rocks down towards the stop sign.

Crap, she says to her friends. Gotta hustle. If Dorian’s boyfriend is monkey-fingered with matches, she is clumsy with time, and is almost late, again, to take care of Jacob. She gives away the rest of her cigarette. Faint polka dots of ash cover the canary-yellow mailbox next to her.

She has been kidsitting Jacob for two months now; for two months, since the Mulhouses’ first Dine and Debate night, she has held a vague, low-level worry for him. She likes Jacob, likes how he stretches out her name. She mistrusts Dr. and Mrs. Mulhouse. They overpay her, which is either stupid or arrogant or both. They can ask any of their friends the going rate. Dorian feels especially uneasy this afternoon. Something’s accelerating, becoming smelly, a cheap slab of meat gone bad. Mrs. Mulhouse calls her for Dine and Debate nights; never for afternoons. During the day they let Jacob take care of himself.

LOCAL OUTLETS: Ampersand Books at Writers & Books in Rochester, Shop12 on the RIT Campus.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: C&R Webshop, IndieBound, Small Press Distribution, or Amazon.

PRICE: $18.00.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Feel free to write me at rdglick@gmail.com. You can also check out my web site (https://www.robertglick.com) or my Insta page (rdglick1x).

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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