Essential Newlove

No easy choices here. Newlove has five main fields: Novels about art and artists; writing guides for writers and readers; a trilogy of Hollywood novels; autobiography that focuses on alcoholic writers and recovery from alcoholism; and a work on philosophy and metabiology. Our offerings in the Handbook series and the Hollywood novels are described on separate pages (see tabs under Newlove’s link above.) Otego Publishing also currently offers:

A LITERARY TREAT from start to finish. Blindfolded Before the Firing Squad, or The Brothers Kirkmaus bares the lives of the brothers Fyodor and Rogo Kirkmaus, long time reviewers for Kirkus Reviews, the book review journal read throughout the English-speaking world.

Rogo and Fyodor write novels themselves, often in the tones of Leo Tolstoy or Fyodor Dostoevsky. But they support themselves reviewing weekly stacks of galleys of forthcoming fiction and non-fiction. The years have gone by and for a memoir with this book’s firing-squad title the aging brothers rake through decades of their reviews and write the very pages of Blindfolded Before the Firing Squad as you read them. The reader swims in early real Kirkus reviews of Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, Tom Wolfe, William Faulkner, Margaret Mitchell, J. D. Salinger, Joyce Carol Oates, Stephen King, Robert Ludlum’s Bourne novels, and works by many other famous lights. Special treats lie in essays on Anglo-Saxon prose, Graham Greene, Ernest Hemingwulf, and on the downslide in earnings of Henry James who on one new year’s eve late in life found himself with 26 books in print and a zero bank balance. Writing does turn on money, not just art. The novel enlivens its pages as well with artwork and dozens of entertaining photos.

Rogo, something of a pale criminal, makes a Faustian bargain with the planet’s publishing colossus, Alexander Buda Sugarman, who sucks up book companies as so many chilled fresh Oysters Rockefeller. Many readers will find in Sugarman rich Hungarian echoes of Orson Welles in full throat. Poor Sugarman! He’s a widower but pursued by the ghost of his late wife Ayn Rand, who spurs him into his stranglehold on world publishing. He believes he finds her reincarnated in Fyodor’s wife Nastasya Filipovna, though some may find Nastasya far from Ayn Rand and more like the tragic heroine of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.

Much of the novel takes place in Manhattan’s Strand Book Store and its Rare Books Room and draws into its web many very, very lightly disguised figures that drown daily in this world-class kingdom of second-hand books. What’s more, the novel reveals and leads you into the Strand’s secret subbasement catacomb where the bones of thousands of penniless Manhattan writers lie at rest, watched over by a blind hunchback not too distant from Notre Dame’s Quasimodo.

Do not miss the scene in chapter four at The Time Café where Rogo sells his soul to Sugarman amid tables full of American authors familiar to all who have also sold their souls.

DOWNPOUR, a sexually intense short novel, is set in the early sixties on Manhattan’s Lower East Side during an April in which it rains every day of the month and floods the city –a true event. As retold by a down-at-heels 35-year-old writer, the story takes place amid a sexual revolution in child-rearing. A young mother tries to raise her children guilt-free in a sexually frank home much in line with a revolutionary work in child-rearing from England called Summerhill, which in the sixties created a following by youthful parents in the States. Much larger spiritual issues lurk in the subtext.

Gypsy, the heroine, is a 23-year-old philosophy grad and pursuer of Jungian analytic psychology who has fled her husband in California and hides out with her two children on the Lower East Side. Along with her bright mind and the fresh joy of the love-making, the story’s great strength lies in description and mood-setting and—as its five chapters rise step by step off the earth—a gathering sense of being on track toward heartbreak on an Edenic scale. And so we have the massive downpour and flooded streets as backdrop to a spiritual drama.

Helen’s Ass Strikes Homer Blind! tells of the élan vital of genius as seen in two of Newlove’s late friends, both geniuses — poet Jack McManis and Dr. Nathaniel David Mttron Hirsch. It first follows with inspired verse Jack’s daunting recovery from alcoholism and celebrates sobriety’s fresh charge to his poetry. The second half lifts off into scientific and philosophic rapture as Dr. Hirsch reveals the propulsion of human genius through our genes, and the higher source of that propulsion.

As with Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Hofstadter’s Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, Helen’s Ass Strikes Homer Blind! offers a one-of-a-kind reading experience. Jack McManis, a genius of 200-plus IQ, falls into madness, and then undergoes recovery through the agencies of Dr. Hirsch and Alcoholics Anonymous.

Dr. Hirsch meanwhile has published five books about experimental studies in heredity. These bolster his credentials as a scientist while his Genius and Creative Intelligence surges toward the philosophic plane he later reveals in his unpublished three-volume masterwork Metabiology. Hirsch’s metaphysics of biology leaps with deep originality to heights that few scientists or philosophers have sought. He tells of the brotherhood of genius as a higher form of life embedded on and given wing by genetic protein. Aside from Lucille Hirsch, his wife, I alone have the outline for this work. Metabiology offers as well a visionary sense of time and chance and many like subjects dear to philosophy. As with other geniuses, Dr. Hirsch knew he’d be seen as a crackpot, which he took as a high honor, for only those with pate cracked wide can receive the supersensible.

Helen’s Ass Strikes Home Blind! weighs the great bonding of Jack and Dr. Hirsch. In large part, Jack and Dr. Hirsch speak for themselves. Below are two of Jack’s verses, the first written while an active alcoholic, the second in mid-recovery. Jack’s drunken verses coat the tongue; his sober verse gives the heart a brain.

the dusty miller will eat
the worn carpet flowers
in my furnished room.

William Martin had the gift of hands
laid on the sick-in-soul to make the soul well.
One night he placed his hand on my head and I
came out into light as though just born from the womb
of that void’s interminable nothingness
I’d laid in forever, too terrified to turn or cry out.
I didn’t believe in the laying on of hands
and I’m not sure I believe now, but I remember
as if it is happening and maybe it is —
William Martin’s gift of hands and how he dissolved
an infinity of darkness with a touch of his hand.

COMING SOON FROM OTEGO PUBLISHING: The Donald Newlove Edition of the COLLECTED POEMS OF JACK McMANIS with Selected Letters and a Revised and Enlarged Symphony of Brain Damage Papers (Fall 2012)

TRUMPET RHAPSODIES & Other Pieces of Time
Inventions, revisions and riffs based on magazine articles about famous people, first published in the Sixties and Seventies, every word now improved in a self-portrait featuring real writers and artists, nearly all of them dead, showing the author’s recovery from the illness of youth and meant to be read from first page to last as an autobiographical novel. Featuring Robert Lowell, fantasy artist Frank Frazetta, Samuel Beckett, Andy Warhol, Joseph Campbell, Fred Bass and the Strand Book Store, Gordon Lish, Raymond Carver, Edgar Allan Baudelaire, Elizabeth Lowell, Lana Turner, Pablo Neruda, Tennessee Williams, Cynara Rosewine, Coleman Hawkins, Elwood Babbitt, Jack McManis, Nancy Newlove, Donald Newlove and the author’s bruised mother.
This is a kind of autobiography of my early days as a writer and of my search for a language that trumpeted my youth. All texts have been revamped with inventions and variations that rhapsodize beyond the original scores to sing with improved art. The story “Superman Meets Captain Fiction” was written for this book and has never before seen print. Nor has “Taps”, written sixty years ago, or the poem “Elegy for Bean” written with Jack McManis.. — DN

This book features four works of fiction. The short novel herein of Beautiful Soup, in some ways my ideal version of that story, brings this piece as close to perfection as I can make it. (This version also appears on Kindle in Perfection: A Guide to Finishing a Work and Abandoning It Forever, which has five variations on the story.) The short novel Between Lives novelizes my play of the same name and I greatly enjoyed perfecting it as a short novel. The play version appears in Pleasures of the Night. The novel and the play and feature my late friend the actor-restaurateur Patrick O’Neal and Sir John Gielgud on a Hindu plane bound for Nirvana. Greta Garbo plays Gandhavati, their lissome flight attendant for Final Purification Airlines. The stories “Taps” (1954) and “Mount Zion” (2008) were written more than fifty years apart. “Mount Zion” links with “Taps” and with my ongoing love for the Russian master Tolstoy and more than ever for his short novel The Death of Ivan Illych — indeed, I call myself Ivan Illych in “Mount Zion” It’s great fun getting in the ring with Tolstoy — he was forty-eight when he wrote his story and I eighty writing mine. He beats me flat in every way but metaphysics.

The Three-Headed Pet Dog offers often long poems about people—Greta Garbo, Matthew Brady, Whitman, Chekhov, Poe, Marilyn Monroe, God the Poet, Rilke on his death bed, Annie Proulx, Garrison Keillor, Deborah Digges and others—and then a handbag of spirited serenities and sexy stuff such as “Love on the Night Lawn” and Newlove sharing the shower with his wife and Cleopatra and Ava Gardner. It offers as well the author’s four translations (or performances) of German verse by Paul Celan and Rilke. The longest poem, an elegy for Deborah Digges, shows her spirit as her three-headed pet dog Cerberus leads her from childhood into the underworld of poetry, mortality, midlife griefs and suicide. It is a poem of subtle strength with memorable rewards as Digges’ life grows and the poem’s mythic energy builds.
This is Newlove’s lone book of poems, plucked from over fifty years of writing. Another memorable poem is the large opening poem “Monarch” about the lives of Monarch butterflies which gives the reader the wondrous sense of endless rebirth. Come fly with me, the poem beckons.

Reviews for the hardcover 1979 edition:
(Now available revised and illustrated on Kindle)
. . . In Donald Newlove’s extraordinary novel, men and women are New York’s creatures as much as they are one another’s, even as they huddle tribally in the East Village, in the kind of dormitory-living that deepens mutual dependence . . . Mr. Newlove has a magnificent ear for every scale of language, from conviction to confusion, and he’s also deft with paradox. There’s a girl Scientologist (“I can’t lie to myself if I’m using a lie detector, can I?”); a truly white Negro who vows that he’s black and is hooked on Confessionalism; a Pole with a Hungarian name whose inflammable apartment is stuffed wall to wall with old issues of this newspaper and the News, which—unaware of microfilm—he’s devotedly cross-indexing and means to ship to the University of Warsaw Library. . . and Rosalie, who’s decoding Robert Browning—not only because he’s God, but because his poems reveal plots to murder Elizabeth Barrett Browning: “He couldn’t stand her, she was sick all the time.”
. . . Gabriel is a transcendental painter who gives the others a contact high. Wanting to see angels and to be one, he struggles with his own God-bothering: a brand of Whitmanesque blue-doming, lashed with some rather reluctant Christianity. For Gabriel, madness and divinity are the compost for art, so he risks losing his head for a “reintegration of psychosis.” Meanwhile, as a moderate sado-masochist, he yields his “thirst for chastity” to an occasional binge; to him, the women concerned seem like snakes or whores. Still, perhaps sex ”is as close as we get to God, this side of Bellevue.”
. . . Released after landing in Bellevue, he lives affectionately but warily with Rosalie, who is temporarily switched off Browning and onto Mobilization for Youth. Although she’s a profound schizophrenic, Gabriel is hopeful that they “can get well together.” His spiritual thoughts have dwindled but he misses his delusions. Love means “regaining your lost possessions, everything that you left behind in paradise.”
This constantly comic and (very) painful novel grows and acts upon you—in the best sense, it’s demanding. . . and if you live in Manhattan anything short of raving hardly sounds eccentric. . . It’s immensely moving and Newlove’s illustrations of far-flung religious impulses are just as absorbing and disturbing as they ought to be.

TIME Magazine – Robert Hughes (author of Goya)
Nether sections of Avenue B provide the Boschian landscape of hell. All of these horrors, lit by the glare of burning cars and the flash of pot or amphetamine, are the backdrop of one of the best fictional studies of madness, descent and purification that any American has written . . .Donald Newlove clearly set out to write a first novel about demoniac society. He has combined a morality play and grimoire , or devil’s hornbook, in which every creature is experienced with hilarious and dreadful concreteness.
. . . Gabriel is a prey to tumescent, Blakean mysticism, and an example of the outsider used as a corrective lens through which human absurdities may be studied. In the country of the loon the creative loon is king . . . amid clusters of amiable freaks, all of whom, like him, define a precarious balance by opposing their craziness to the paranoia of the outside city. . . Many of Newlove’s human inventions swell like bullfrogs from the sheer pressure of his linguistic vitality. . . Beside Gabriel the Best heroes of heroes of ‘50s fiction look not merely anemic but ignorant. Gabriel, simply, is romanticism cubed: “Scrape your brain bare, like a battery electrode, expose your nerves like a bush of copper. Get ready to sing or die. Or maybe both! And all this out here, these roofs and smokestacks, will turn into light—and you’ll see right through them—because they’ll no longer be necessary to support the illusion of our lives.” . . . Newlove’s muddy, inflamed picaresque novel is a remarkable performance.

Magnificent Madness on City Streets . . . It’s all real, folks, and presented with the “Vermeer-like clarity” Newlove says was his objective—an aspect of the book which might be missed, the language is so rich, the word-play so fine, and religion, mysticism, madness and revelation so prominent in the speech of its characters . . . a sometimes difficult, always demanding, extraordinary work of art, apocalyptic in subject and masterly in execution, as if Vermeer had undertaken to paint the hideous figures of Bosch.
. .. all the cruelties of the city are magnified in a Bosch hellscape, figures whose conversations dwell on heaven at almost every point, like angels dancing above the flames engulfing the monster city. Their talk . . . keeps the toes just above the fire but they end up in Bellevue, that fortress of death and madness which serves the Lower East Side. The painter Gabriel, who in the beginning is painting a canvas of the city burning, a vision which came to him in an intensity of mystical feeling, wants the angel’s charge.; and finally attains it in the eyes of a loved one gone mad. Donald Newlove has taken our mutually shared lower East Side and transformed it into a field where good and evil, devils and angels dwell, and he does it magnificently.

Newlove’s titles with Otego Publishing can be found by clicking the pull-down links beneath his name in the black bar above, or click here to go to his author page on Amazon in a new window.