An Author’s First Look

pressfieldWith all due respect to Steven Pressfield the master of historical fiction, Stephen King the master of fiction Kingperiod and countless other authors like Ron McLarty and Leif Enger who I read with fervor, I Memory of Runningmust admit that I consider Mark Helprin THE master of writing.  By the way, if you click any of the covers, you will go to the book on Amazon.  Every since I engerread Winter’s Tale the first time 30 years ago, I’ve often said of Mark HelprinMr. Helprin’s prose, “If you open any of his books at random to any page and begin to read, what rolls from your tongue is pure poetry.”

Yesterday afternoon as I worked my Friday shift at the Redemptorist book store, Marie called to let me know that the physical proof of my new book Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ had arrived at the house.  I couldn’t wait to get home.  After you spend over two years researching, writing and re-writing a manuscript, there is something very special about holding the physical fruit of your labor in your hands.  Even as I write this, the book smiles at me from the corner of my desk.

When I returned home, the plain, unadorned brown box waited patiently for me where Marie had placed it on my desk.  I carefully opened Gasparthe package and finally held the book in my hand.  Gaspar is my sixth novel in 10 years, and the longest by a considerable margin.

I read the two opening paragraphs aloud to my wife.  “I like that,” she replied.  Then I did the Mark Helprin test and opened the book randomly and read another paragraph

We glide into the mist.  It is thick and moist, then light begins to penetrate its weakness and it begins to rise like a flock of birds hiding in a marsh.  Land emerges before us and extends as far as we can see from east to west.  This is no small spit of land like those islands we have passed during our thirty days on the water.  This land has substance.  It is a real place.  I believe it is the end of the world.  Exhausted, we collapse on the rocky beach, and within minutes, the sun’s warmth lures us to sleep.  Dog runs off to explore the nearby forest ….

While I’ll make no claim to be Mark Helprin, I’ll stand by my words.

For whatever reason, the book begged me to read the final paragraphs.  Hard for me to explain, but I had difficulty getting through them; I kept getting choked up, not because it was the end of the book, but because I find the conclusion as emotional as I read it now as I did when I first wrote it a year ago.  Marie smiles and turns away to allow me my private tears and emotional release.

I will post the announcement tomorrow that Gaspar, Another Tales of the Christ is officially available on Amazon.  I expect the Kindle version to be up by mid-August.  Thanks for your continued interest and support.

2 thoughts on “An Author’s First Look”

  1. Gene,
    I knew I liked you for a reason! Mark Helprin is one of my top three…..most people have never heard of him. My first Helprin was “Soldier of the Great War”, followed by “Memoirs from Ant Proof Case” and….well, you get the picture. He’s the guy that gets raised eyebrows when I recommend him.

    You are an inspiration of confidence. The excerpts from ‘Gaspar’ are beautifully written and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. No Kindle for me. Amazon here I come.

    Blessings on your continued journey.

    1. Amazing, Alistair! Loved Soldier of the Great War as well as Memoir from Antproof Case. I had a friend and business associate from Mexico City about 15 years ago; his name was Leopoldo Martinez. Leopoldo asked me one day how he could learn ‘better English.’ I loaned him my copy of Memoir from Antproof Case. “Read this,” I told him. “This man writes like the English language is intended to be spoken.” All of my Helprin books are stored in my special, enclosed bookcase along with my 1876 edition of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by SAMUEL CLEMENS before he turned his name to Mark Twain. I just went and checked … when Leopoldo returned the book to me, he had it covered in a brown paper cover he had made — the kind we used as kids in grammar school in the 50’s. I never removed the cover and there it resides with my other ‘best books.’

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