“The Old World Dies” is a dystopian-lite tableau of a European age of final decline about a down-and-out painter, his spinster benefactors and his exotic models, as well as one very unlucky taxi driver, as they struggle against great odds to survive a tragicomic wave of chaos washing over Paris and threatening to send them and their desperate last dreams into the abyss. Their absurd and spicy tales carry the brave reader through a Boschian world where the narrative slope plunges from the luminous heights of the Pyrenees and dark-eyed Basque country into the mayhem of the City of Light and its forlorn suburbs, thence by several wacky twists of fate to a nice bar along the dangerous coastal roads of California, before arriving at an ersatz paradise on the western shore of Mexico where a gentle beach artist dashes off a painting of the lucky few survivors at sunset.
My new novel is now available for pre-order. That makes it an early holiday gift for everyone, albeit one you buy! Here’s the place: http://tinyurl.com/ycj629tq
Print edition coming out at the same time, Jan. 15. So if you don’t want the Kindle version, check back for the paperback, which I’ll have ready in a couple of weeks. Merci!
Publishers Weekly wrote about Rolling the Bones: A con man befriends a Texas couple and sends their life spinning out of control in Jarrard’s second novel (after Over There), a lyrical, mystical suspense tale that begins when Carl Blalock meets a drifter named Carl Stein and ends up hiring him to work in his hardware and lumber store. The friendship between the two men is paralleled by a deeper bond between their attractive wives, and when Stein’s spouse, May, drowns during a swimming outing, Blalock’s wife, Venus, leaves him, realizing that she was really in love with May. That decision, along with Stein’s move to rob his erstwhile friend of $7,000, sets off a chain of events in which Venus and Stein hit the road separately and inadvertently end up meeting in a Louisiana casino, while Blalock takes off for Mexico and begins a passionate, dreamy affair of his own. The motives of the various characters often seem dubious as the plot unfolds, but the quality of Jarrard’s prose is high, and he depicts in convincing detail the complex interactions between characters, throwing in some occasional observations from those they encounter on the road. He also integrates the more surreal aspects of casino life into the passages in which Stein and Venus test one another, and he captures the hazy, disembodied feel of Carl Blalock’s interlude in Mexico. The ending features a casino jackpot as well as an intriguing fate for the shifty yet strangely appealing Stein, but it is the beauty of the writing that carries the day and proves this a promising sophomore effort.