Welcome. (And, to some of you, welcome back).
I’m pleased – nay, tickled – to introduce my second novel, The Sixth String. The book is the self-told tale of Nicholae, a Roma (Gypsy) flamenco guitarist, as he travels throughout Europe before and during WW II. His reckless and often bawdy adventures give way to horror as he is ensnared by the Nazi machine.
If your life were at stake, what would you do to survive? How does any human being carry on in the face of inconceivable cruelty? How do you reconcile a thirst for revenge with a plea for mercy? Does the power of love or art matter at all?
These are the questions that confront Nicholae, as he learns “the geography of evil” at Dachau, Rivesaltes, Drancy and, finally, Auschwitz. In the dying days of World War II, and near madness, Nicholae comes face to face with very personification of banal villainy – Dr. Josef Mengele, the infamous “Angel of Death”.
Meticulously researched and vividly written, The Sixth String offers a gripping tale of suspense, a passionate love story (several of them, in fact) and a unique insight into the little-known fate of more than half a million Roma at the hands of their Nazi captors.
Ultimately, the book is a tribute to the artistic spirit symbolized by the sixth string that, centuries ago, Spanish Gypsies were said to have added to the Arabic lute to create the modern guitar. In Nicholae’s words: “And I write for that guitar--my blessing, my passport, my alibi and my curse.”
I offer the first chapter free - for your reading and dancing pleasure. In Canada, the book is now available from General Store Publishing House, the absolutely wonderful people who agreed to publish it. You can go to their website (on the right) to order a hard copy. For US and foreign orders, it's available from Amazon.com. I swear I'll let you know when it's going to be on the shelves or downloadable in multiple e-book formats.
I want to note that I got my ink-stained mitts on some advance copies that sold really well at a launch party held on October 24 in Ottawa. Many, many thanks to the well-wishers, attendees and the usual beer-swilling suspects I have associated with for most of my life for making the event so much fun.
If you have the time, I invite you to wander around the site where you can read about how and why I wrote the book in the Notes on the Writing of section. You’ll also find out about my first novel, On the Rails, whose first chapter is also offered gratis. If you like it, you can buy the print version or download the e-book at the sites listed on the right.
Briefly, On the Rails follows Michael Shymchuk (later Shutt) as he moves across Depression-era Canada and from being an awkward, rebellious teenager to a man in full, both hardened and humanized by his passage through poverty to the brutal and beautiful landscape and people of the Canadian North. In his journey towards understanding and a final, possibly fatal confrontation with the elements, Michael encounters madmen, murderers, sinners and saints and every shade in between.
Author and national columnist Roy MacGregor said this of On the Rails: “It's wonderful. It's terrifically crafted, evocatively written. Powerful..”
To get some idea of what I'm on about, you can go to the FREE Writing section of this site. There, you'll find various stories, essays and sketches including a new story, Five Loves Too Many, from a planned collection called Under This Difficult Sun.
And if you’d like to tell me what you think – good or bad - please do.
And thank you for dropping by.
Order The Sixth String from: