September 10, 2015
An American Master *****
Richard Kalich is an American novelist who creates brilliant and accomplished works of fiction that deal with themes of cruelty and obsession . Although Kalich’s work is informed by the earlier works of the European avant garde, his exploration of the current era is as American and up-to-date as the latest episode of the Kardashian’s. The three novels, gathered in one volume by Betimes Books, are each unique, enthralling, and spiked with dark humor. Together they illustrate Kalich’s scope and power as novelist and cultural interpreter.
Acknowledged to be Kalich’s Masterpiece, ‘The Nihilesthete’, is told in linear style and the form is that of a conventional novel. The story concerns the twisted power games of Haberman, a long time social worker who once had creative ambitions. When Haberman meets the spectacularly handicapped Brodski, a welfare recipient who has no arms and no legs and can only communicate in cat language, he becomes obsessed with gaining control of the helpless young man.
‘Penthouse F’ is an exercise in meta-fiction that should be read as a companion piece to ‘The Nihilesthete.’ Blocked author, Richard Kalich, is accused of encouraging a young couple to commit suicide. During an interrogation we learn that Kalich, like Haberman, is an ex-social worker with a penchant for sadistic games. The line between reality and fiction is blurred and the reader is allowed to draw his own conclusions.
‘Charlie P’ is an outlandish and absurd tale that is told with humor and playfulness. Charlie is a deeply alienated man who lives in a dream world and deliberately refuses to distinguish fantasy from reality. The reader enters Charlie’s mind and experiences his misadventures while slowly realizing that Charlie is not so different from the rest of us.
This review is for Central Park West Trilogy: The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F, Charlie :
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