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An Excerpt from The Nihilesthete, Book 1 in the Central Park West Trilogy by Richard Kalich

August 23, 2016

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The Central Park West Trilogy is part of Amazon’s August promotions and will be available on Amazon.co.uk for £0.99 until the end of the month.


My little shopping spree was not without difficulties. I couldn’t purchase my present ready-made at a store. I had to improvise. I had to purchase a costly art book first and cut out the print reproduction I wanted and then have it enlarged to poster size. After that was accomplished, I had it framed, a plain silver boarder, (quite expensive), and finally I had it gift wrapped. So much trouble for my little one. If only he knew: he is no trouble at all.

You should have seen his reaction. And it was genuine. I’m sure of that. Or should I say I made sure? Not only does this psychologist have his inkblots, but he has his placebo as well. Such things are mandatory in my work. Before giving Brodski his gift, I opened the other. Though it wasn’t actually for him, at the time he couldn’t know that. Mrs. Regina Douglas, our medical social worker, advised me what to get. She said a person suffering from his condition, a cri du chat, would most likely be attracted to the same things as an infant. Something glittering and shiny, preferably an object that moves. I purchased a shiny new egg beater for Mrs. Rivera. And waved it in front of her eyes. The old lady was absolutely gaga at my kindness. But Brodski wasn’t. He showed no response.

His eyes were dead. Then I unwrapped his present. A framed poster-size print of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Within seconds his face lit up. His eyes opened wide. So wide he looked ridiculous. It was as if at this moment he was seeing the whole world. The room absolutely resounded with mewing sounds. He passed his test with flying colors.

Even Mrs. Rivera was impressed. “I have never see him respond like that,” she said.

To this woman I am fast becoming a benefactor. To Brodski, a philanthropist of the arts. And really, I have no interest in the arts. In anything, “make-belimunch32eve.” Of all the riddles in the world, man’s need for beauty baffles me most. But then, why has it preserved so long? Longer and more durable than governments, dynasties, moralities, civilizations, even religions.

Could I be wrong?

No. Never!”


Central Park West Trilogy includes three novels, The Nihilesthete, Penthouse F and Charlie P, originally published separately and collected for the first time in a single volume.  Post-modern fables, dark, shocking, perversely funny, wickedly astute, and compulsively readable, they share Kalich’s ferocious energy and unique vision. Together, they break down standard notions of plot, character and form a body of work that is distinctive and brilliant. Central Park West Trilogy encapsulates Kalich’s uncompromising examination of the state of modern life, as well as his experimentations with form and language.

The Nihilesthete (first published in 1987 and nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award, The Hemingway Award, a National Book Award, and Pulitzer Prize) introduces us to Kalich’s dark world, where a spiritually desolate caseworker plays increasingly sadistic games with a limbless, speechless idiot with a painter’s eye.

“One of the most powerfully written books of the decade.” San Francisco Chronicle

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