Cleveland , the novel synopsis…

One of my followers made a good point. ” I like the cover but I am not sure what the book is about.” She is absolutely right. I am new at this so hang in there with me.

I think it only fair that I share the synopsis of my novel. This should provide all my followers a better idea of which book cover is better….Here goes:

The novel is about a young man, Sam Cohen, who moves to New York City in the 1980’s to pursue his dream of becoming a professional photographer. His immediate plan is to distance himself from Cleveland, Ohio and all the emotional baggage of a father who survived the Holocaust and a mother who tried to fill in the gaps.  

Sam arrives in New York City and lands a job working for a celebrity photographer (Izzy), who is fighting her own demons. During his tenure with Izzy he meets famous artists, writers and actors who inadvertently conjure up visions and flashbacks of magical realism in venues such as in an elevator with Merce Cunningham and John Cage, Alice Walker’s remote cabin, the posh lobby of LA’s Chateau Mormont, and a desert shoot with David Hockney who challenges his understanding of photography as art. While struggling with the internal conflict of leaving his father to “mind the store,” he nonetheless pursues his chosen path with tenacity and some lucky breaks.

In the course of Sam’s work with Izzy he experiences life in the fast lane of the New York City 80’s art scene, with all its dirt and glamor, and navigates the daily crises of Izzy’s world. Along the way, he encounters a number of notable Jewish writers, Elie Wiesel and Isaac Bashevis Singer, who haunt his identity and sense of direction. When an opportunity arises to spend time with his father in Washington, D.C., at the first American Gathering of the Jewish Holocaust Survivors, he discovers the truth and the humanity of his father’s past and begins to understand his place and purpose. His relationship with his father leads him to resolve a lifelong inner conflict and to make a choice he thought he would never have to make.

I hope this helps if you know of any literary agents send them my way

The White Rastafarian

What do you Think? Bonus Post, a short excerpt from the Novel….

I got a lot of good feedback about the cover, so I decided to try another version:

another version for the cover….

As a bonus here is an excerpt from my novel….

To set this chapter up…Sam Cohen got a break to work with the world famous photographer to the stars, Izzy Teivel, but there was one catch..he had to transport a gram of Cocaine onto a plane and fly to New Mexico to Izzy to prove his loyalty and stupidity.

© Dope Smuggler to the Stars. ( except from the novel Cleveland)

Paranoia always crept into my mind when I walked New York’s streets at night. I kept a watchful eye out for anything suspicious and continuously prepared and revised escape routes in the event of trouble. I never felt alone, though. I had no extended relations or friends or even friends of friends to rely on. But I had my invisible protector. I had Luck. It had kept my father alive in the concentration camps, and I was his only son. Surely, he had passed it on to me.

Arriving home, I found my roommate sitting at our small table, hunched over white powdered lines. “How was your day at work?” he said to me nonchalantly.

“Great,” I said. “What’s on the table?”

“Oh, I was walking through Needle Park and this guy came up to me asking if I wanted to score some pure coke. At first, I said no but he kept following me and lowering his prices until it was too good to pass up. So, I ended up buying a gram for 20 bucks. He was desperate, I guess. He looked like a junkie who needed a fix.”

“Wait. You bought a gram of coke from a stranger in Needle Park? Are you crazy?”

“Don’t talk to me like I’m an idiot. I know my stuff. Plus, for only 20 bucks, what’s there to lose? Do you want to try a line or not!”

“I’ll pass. It’s been a long day and I just want to chill,” I said.

He proceeded to place a short straw in his nose and inhaled a line. He looked up at me with a frown. “OK, it’s not pure but it does have some kick. It’s not burning my nose.” He took another snort with his other nostril and suddenly started blowing air out of both nostrils. “This is mixed with something.”

He took his forefinger, licked it, and placed it in the bag of white powder. He then withdrew his finger and brushed it on his tongue.

“This shit tastes like baking soda!” he said in disgust.

“So you bought a $20 bag of baking soda? From a stranger? In Needle Park? We can always put it in the fridge to absorb some of those bad odors.” I said.

“There goes my perfect evening,” he groused. “I’m going out to get some air.” And he left the apartment.

Howie was book smart and street dumb. I felt a little sorry for him due to his awkward appearance. He seemed uncomfortable in his own skin. It didn’t help either that his last name was Shmeckler, a Yiddish word which, according to my dad, meant “little penis.”,,,,

Book Cover? What do you think?

Now that my novel is complete and I am just waiting for the final editing, I thought I would create a cover. It actually came by accident, or was it ? I have been archiving my photography and came across some 35 mm black and white negatives that I had taken in the 1980s in. NYC. I had never printed them and only had a contact sheet.

This was the image I found taken sometime in the 1980s.

I was blown away when I saw this image. It is a street in SoHo in Manhattan called Cleveland Place. Although my novel is call Cleveland, most of the story takes place in Manhattan in the 1980’s. It is stuff like this that makes me think sometimes the script is already written. Any way, it was the perfect image and tells the story of when and where my novel takes place. The One Way sign; the telephone booth and the lamp post symbols depicting Sam’s life in. the. Big Apple.

But, what do you think? I mean I am too close to the story to be totally objective and I suppose you think, you should read the book first…Ok, Ok I will give you. that but just on a visceral level, knowing what you know : What Do You Think? Let me know…

Thanks for subscribing and share it with the world….Here is the cover I came up with :

Let me know what you think of this cover…

The Spark

It was 3 am and I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about what I was doing with my life. I had just ended a relationship with a photo school I was teaching at, and it didn’t go well. I had moved my family to Missoula, Montana, thinking it was the right thing to do, I had a job offer in Missoula, and raising two little kids in a city just didn’t seem like a good idea. We also moved to help my wife’s elderly parents. Now, I had lost my job, fortunately my wife had hers. I was grieving the fact that I had left a good job in Philadelphia, teaching at the. University of Pennsylvania School of Design for the promise of a more serene life in the mountains. I had never lived west of Ohio and considered Montana a flyover state. Never did I ever imagine I would live in a rural state. Self doubt was churning in my brain.

I got out of bed and headed down to the basement, where my office was, booted up the computer and opened up Word. I am not sure what possessed me but I just started writing. I remembered Jack Kerouac writing somewhere that it was his brother who had died at the age of 9 who channeled Kerouac. He claimed it was his brother who wrote, not him. Maybe it was my sister who died at the age of 32 who was channeling me. I started recalling the events in my life in NYC that landed me an assisting job with the world famous portrait photographer, Annie Leibovitz. It was one of those things in your life that if you would have turned left instead of right it would have never happened. Chance, luck or maybe even fate, whatever the reason it was worth writing about. I was getting tired of people always asking me ” what was it like to work with Annie?” What I realized, as I kept writing, is that the story really wasn’t about working with Annie, it was about Sam Cohen, the protagonist of the story, and the journey he had to take to truly understand his past, growing up in Cleveland, the son of a holocaust survivor and a mother who tried her best to fill in but was battling her own demons and his place in the world.

This is blog about that journey, fact and fiction. After all as a novelist I can imagine all sorts of scenarios of ” what if”. For me it was about telling a good story and one that I hope the reader will enjoy reading the funny, absurd and touching moments of an unchartered life.

A photo of a very happy Annie Leibovitz on a boat ride off the coast of Seattle.