Monthly Archives: October 2012

Kristoffer Collins of Pittsburgh Magazine says, “Simply put: Dave Newman is my new favorite writer.”

Undercover: ‘Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children’
Pittsburgh native Newman’s latest work is a comedy of bad manners that shows the writer’s evolution from his debut novel.

Simply put: Dave Newman is my new favorite writer. This is so much the case that I’m thinking of making T-shirts with that statement emblazoned across the chest.

Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is his second novel — and it’s a giant leap forward from his precocious teen noir Please Don’t Shoot Anyone Tonight. Newman’s latest concerns itself with people who love books. They love writing them, and they love reading them. Set in the writing department of a local university, Raymond Carver is a comedy of bad manners. Dan Charles is a happily married writing instructor and father of two. He and his wife, Lori (also a writer and teacher), are doing their best to keep their jobs, which don’t even pay the bills (they’ve each taken on second jobs), while raising a family and attempting to somehow find time to pen the books they dream of writing.


What shows through in these pages, well beyond the drunken sprees and academic slapstick, is Newman’s love of being a writer. Specifically, his love of being a writer in Pittsburgh. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve read that have rendered our city as beautifully, and with as much emotional resonance, as Raymond Carver does…

Read the full review at Pittsburgh Magazine:

Arnold Snyder on David Newman’s novel: “a good job creating a dark character trying to feel his way to the light”

Dave Newman’s Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is about getting over the life you thought you were supposed to live, so that you can get on with living the life you have. On the surface, the story is much the same as the story in Bukowski ‘s Post Office: A guy gets a job. He doesn’t like the job. Sometimes he shows up drunk and sometimes he doesn’t show up. Then he gets fired. The End. What’s different is that Newman’s Dan Charles has something Bukowski’s Henry Chinaski never had—a family he’s determined to stick it out with …

Read the full interview at Write-aholic:

Fred Shaw reviews “Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children” for Pittsburgh City Paper

With pointed humor, Dave Newman’s new novel portrays the life of a lowly college writing instructor.
Much of Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is a satirical send up of today’s student, as well as Pittsburgh’s literary scene.

Write what you know is a dictum straight from page one of any creative-writing instructor’s playbook. It’s advice well-heeded by local writer Dave Newman in his second novel, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children.

Newman has widely published both poems and stories, winning the Andre Dubus Novella Award in 2004, in addition to having had all sorts of workaday jobs. Newman’s narrator, Dan Charles, seems a semi-autobiographical version of himself: a 40-ish Pittsburgh native who teaches writing, is married to a woman named Lori and lives east of the city with two kids. (Newman’s spouse is Lori Jakiela, herself an accomplished writer and instructor.)

To the uninitiated, being both a published writer and professor at a respected university would seem to make Dan Charles financially successful. However, this life is anything but secure …

Read the full interview at the Pittsburgh City Paper:

Diamond Dogs

DD cover

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A fiercely original novel about fathers, sons, and fatal choices.

Seventeen-year-old Neil Garvin lives in a small town outside Las Vegas. Abandoned by his mother when he was three, he blames his abusive father ― the local sheriff ― for driving her away. Neil is good-looking, popular, the quarterback of the high school football team ― and as cruel to his peers as his father is to him. Obsessed with Neil Diamond, Neil’s father is a charmer in the eyes of strangers, but a monster to those closest to him. Neil plans to get out of town on his “million dollar arm,” until the night when he accidentally commits a terrible crime, which his father, unasked, covers up for him. Over the course of the three days that follow, Neil returns to school and attempts to go through the motions of his everyday life. But when the FBI arrives and begins to close in, Neil and his father become locked in a confrontation that will break them apart ― and set them free.

With unerring insight into family secrets, the bonds between fathers and sons, and the complexities of small-town life, Diamond Dogs is a triumphantly accomplished and powerfully moving debut novel.

Editorial Reviews Review:
Penzler Pick, October 2000: This disturbing first novel, set in Nevada, is the story of Neil Garvin, a high school football star who, in his own words, tells us of the night at Fred Billings’s house when he drank more beer than he can remember.

Drinking beer is what high school jocks do, and for Neil, it also drives away the anger he feels at his father, at his life, and at the fact that his mother left them when Neil was a baby. Neil blames his distant and abusive father for driving her away. A charming man to those who don’t know him, Neil’s father spends his leisure time drinking Midori and listening to Neil Diamond, after whom he has named his son. (The scene where Neil’s father takes him to Las Vegas for a Neil Diamond concert is a memorable one in a book filled with great scenes.)

Driving home from Fred’s house in his father’s car, Neil hits and kills a boy who is walking home from the party. Drunk and disoriented, Neil stuffs the body in the trunk, drives home, and passes out. When the body disappears from the trunk, Neil knows his father has found the body and hidden it, although not a word about this passes between them. Since Neil’s father is the sheriff of the town, he is called in by the dead boy’s family to find their missing son.

The investigation is seen through Neil’s eyes as he squirms through his father’s seeming inability to find any clues about the missing boy and his own growing closeness to the boy’s family, especially his sister, who see Neil and his father as friends and allies. He also watches as his father battles with the FBI (the dead boy’s uncle is an agent) over jurisdiction of the case.

While it is difficult to feel sorry for Neil as the net slowly closes around him, and his fear of being caught turns to self-loathing, the reader knows exactly what happened and feels like a participant. It is an uncomfortable feeling for the reader and a difficult mood for the author to maintain, but Alan Watt manages to pull it off without a hitch.
– Otto Penzler for


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Debonair oddball B. K. Troop is delighted when Chris Ireland, a 25-year-old aspiring writer, moves into his apartment building in January 1984. The dark-haired, sexy Christopher (as B. K. insists on calling him) is still reeling from his divorce from an aspiring actress, but B. K. is convinced he can work his subtle charms on the younger man.

Like any entertaining seduction yarn, things don’t quite go according to the seducer’s plan. Christopher responds to B. K.’s overtures of friendship but nothing more. Under B. K.’s watchful (and frustrated) eye, Christopher first jumps into politics, and when that proves unsuccessful, he turns to a New Age guru who hosts a self-help seminar known as “The Weekend.” Though he’s jealous when Christopher falls for the wife of the owner of his favorite restaurant, and later when he sleeps with one of the students he tutors, B. K. never loses hope of seducing his young neighbor. He does, however, make a startling discovery about himself: somewhere along the way, he’s fallen in love with Christopher.

Burnett perfectly captures both the mid-1980s setting and the feelings of both his lovable, predatory narrator and B. K.’s elusive quarry. B. K. is both hilariously outlandish and utterly touching.

Editorial Reviews

“Either he’s channeling Truman Capote’s spirit, or Allison Burnett has created, all by himself, one of the more assured narrative voices in recent memory. His B.K. Troop is a pitch-perfect creation: bitchy-funny with a twist of rue.”–Louis Bayard, author of Fool’s Errand and Endangered Species

Christopher is the literary equivalent of sparkling banter whose aftermath is trenchant poignancy. The deep, sad truths of this slyly funny novel continue to gather force long after you’ve finished reading.”–Kate Christensen, author of In the Drink and Jeremy Thrane

The House Beautiful

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B.K. Troop — a middle-aged, witty, bipolar, alcoholic homosexual — lives alone in a cramped New York apartment. His life is turned upside down when his best friend, Sasha Buchwitz, dies and leaves him her Manhattan brownstone. To afford the property tax, B.K. turns his new home into a colony for young, struggling artists, to whom he can serve as mentor, if not muse. He christens the place the House Beautiful.

The House Beautiful tells the story of a fateful summer when a young man named Adrian Malloy arrives at B.K.’s door, lugging a suitcase and dragging a garbage bag crammed with what B.K. presumes to be odes and sonnets. Overjoyed to have found a new poet, B.K. sweeps Adrian into his home and under his wing.

At once hilarious, romantic, wise, and lunatic, The House Beautiful tells the story not only of B.K.’s emerging friendship with Adrian, but of all the artists’ adventures that summer, as they struggle to make art and love.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly:
In the follow-up to 2003’s Christopher, screenwriter Burnett continues the story of B.K. Troop, a hilariously repugnant and flamboyant middle-aged gay novelist. Living on a small trust, B.K. is tickled pink when a friend dies and bequeaths him a Manhattan brownstone—until he crunches the numbers. To cover taxes and mortgage payments, B.K. rents rooms on the cheap to young painters, writers and actors, turning the home, in effect, into an artists’ colony he calls “The House Beautiful.” Discreet peepholes and B.K.’s penchant for snooping allow him to keep tabs on his lodgers; some find success, others founder, and interpersonal relationships are frequently tense. The balance of the house changes with the arrival of Adrian Malloy, a poet from the Midwest whose good looks make him the unwitting object of B.K.’s lust. The novel’s main dramatic thrust hinges on Adrian’s story—essentially the tale of a young man’s creative awakening in the big city—and on the gradual disclosure of his past, which bears surprising connections with B.K.’s own. Though B.K. is exquisitely realized, his narcissism short-changes secondary characters. However, lively prose and gonzo humor pick up the slack. (Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.)

Death by Sunshine

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B.K. Troop is an aging, erudite, chemically imbalanced, gay, alcoholic novelist living in Manhattan. His life is turned upside down when he is invited to Los Angeles to adapt one of his novels into a screenplay. Soon after his arrival, B.K. is thrust into the heart of a mystery that only he can solve. With the help of his trusty Mexican chauffeur, B.K. penetrates the lower depths of Hollywood with hilarious and surprisingly poignant results.

Editorial Reviews

Death by Sunshine marks the welcome return of Allison Burnett’s deliciously vainglorious and perverse protagonist, B. K. Troop. In short, he’s one of the great comic characters in recent literature, on a par with Ignatius J. Reilly in John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dunces.
– Robin Russin, L.A. Review of Books

“Like Truman Capote, Allison Burnett knows how to pull up a chair and whisper a juicy story into his lucky reader’s ear. Death By Sunshine is a quickly-paced tale inhabited by fascinating and funny creatures.”
– Nell Scovell, Vanity Fair

“In this age when the genuine comic novel seems to be an extinct species, Allison Burnett gives us reason to rejoice. Death By Sunshine is a return trip to the world of B.K. Troop, one of the most appealing characters ever put on a page.”
– Charles Busch, author of The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and Die, Mommie, Die!

East Bay Grease

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East Bay Grease, Eric Miles Williamson’s now classic first novel, has received worldwide acclaim as one of the great depictions of working-class America in the latter half of the 20th century. The story of T-Bird Murphy, born in the tumultuous 1960’s and raised in the ghettoes of Oakland, California variously by his mother, who rides with the Hell’s Angels, his father, who is an ex-convict, and the father figures who range from musicians to construction workers, East Bay Grease is a novel of dignity, honor, and courage that has been compared to the works of John Steinbeck, Jack London, and Upton Sinclair.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly
Williamson’s generally impressive debut charts the coming-of-age of a young man burdened by poverty, a dysfunctional family and a violent milieu, but endowed with what may turn out to be the saving grace: musical talent. In Oakland, Calif.’s tough neighborhood of bikers, drifters and Mexican immigrants during the late ’60s and early ’70s, T-Bird Murphy moves from childhood to his late teen years, developing a vengeful attitude as a protective carapace. When T-Bird’s neglectful, promiscuous mother decamps with a Hell’s Angels lover, the boy goes to live with his ex-con father in a trailer next to a gas station. His two half-brothers leave foster homes to join them, but the vision of a reunited family is later destroyed by the younger siblings’ senseless, violent deaths. In elementary school T-Bird makes friends and enemies as he oscillates between two identities and alliances: nerds and thugs; he makes good grades, but he also steals, smokes, drinks and indulges in other antisocial behavior. His nascent talent on the trumpet is encouraged by a school field trip to Reno for a jazz band competition, but, like most hopeful events in T-Bird’s life, the experience sours in drunken frustration. His on-the-road adventures with a Mexican jazz band, Los Asesinos, in high school, invigorate the novel with vivid details of creative development. Yet T-Bird is always tainted by the code of blood revenge that haunts his past and present and commits him to an act of brutality that almost results in a man’s death. Later, a specialized construction job sets him on a fateful road trip. A belatedly revealed secret about his parentage leads to a denouement of wary reconciliations. T-Bird’s bleak life is depicted with stark and candid details, though at times his auxiliary misadventures dissipate the drama his story could yield. The cumulative and potent portrayal, however, is of a low and ugly corner of contemporary culture, and of a resilient young man who desperately fights and anxiously surmounts the odds stacked against him. (Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

From Library Journal
Never has coming of age been depicted in a more harrowing narrative than in Williamson’s first novel, the tale of T-Bird Murphy, a white boy growing up in Oakland, CA. When T-Bird’s mother isn’t abusing him, she is sexually servicing a motorcycle gang. After she abandons him to his ex-con father, T-Bird’s challenge is to stay alive, negotiating his way through the Hispanic and African American gangs in his new school while maintaining his GPA and playing the trumpet. In a rapid-fire, unadorned style, the author tells the story of the inner-city youths who have three strikes against them before they walk out the door. While not for the weak-stomached, this unblinking look at the underside of America is imbued with a dignity and sense of humanity that will reward its readers. Recommended for larger fiction collections. (Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children

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Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is a brilliantly written story of Dan Charles, a writing professor who teaches at a small college outside of Pittsburgh. It is about the daily struggle to survive while raising two children with his wife. Funny and heartbreakingly real, author Dave Newman captures the humanity and heartbreak of one man’s struggle to navigate the vicissitudes of life as a working writer in America.

Editorial Reviews

“Dave Newman is an immense talent! He has proven it once again with this beautiful, hilarious, sometimes sad page-turner about Dan Charles, a writer in Pittsburgh who likes a drink and loves his family, struggling to get by as a lowly, underpaid adjunct professor in today’s cut-throat economy. Believe me, Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children will grab you and not let go.”
– Donald Ray Pollock, author of The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff

Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is a brilliant novel. Newman is in it for the long haul. Truly one of the best writers of his generation.”
– Gerald Locklin, author of A Simpler Time, A Simpler Place and Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet

“Finally, a book about the writing life that tells the stark truth: most scribes make the same wages as busboys, curse like truckers, and drink like — well — writers. Raymond Carver Will Not Raise Our Children is a smart, funny, class-conscious novel about the blue collar existence that 99% of all writers face. Dave Newman’s characters are real people, not ideas with arms and legs as in most fiction about fiction. The book is a genuine gem!”
– Larry Fondation, author of Fish, Soap and Bonds