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About Robert Arellano
Robert Arellano is the award-winning author of six novels from Akashic and Counterpoint/Soft Skull presses, including the Edgar-finalist Havana Lunar: a Cuban Noir.
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Lee Child recruits Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Cara Black, and others to reveal nicotine's scintillating alter egos.
"Typically for Akashic--publisher of the terrific Noir series--the stories approach the subject matter from an impressive number of angles...Akashic has yet to produce a dull anthology, and this one is especially good."
"Sixteen tributes to America's guiltiest pleasure...Even confirmed anti-smokers will find something to savor."
"The most successful entries delve bone-deep into addiction, as characters smoke to smother physical pain, loneliness, and their days...These writers capture the mental gymnastics behind the characters' bad decisions, and the joy such bad decisions can bring."
In recent years, nicotine has become as verboten as many hard drugs. The literary styles in this volume are as varied as the moral quandaries herein, and the authors have successfully unleashed their incandescent imaginations on the subject matter, fashioning an immensely addictive collection.
Featuring brand-new stories by: Lee Child, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Ames, Eric Bogosian, Achy Obejas, Michael Imperioli, Hannah Tinti, Ariel Gore, Bernice L. McFadden, Cara Black, Christopher Sorrentino, David L. Ulin, Jerry Stahl, Lauren Sanders, Peter Kimani, and Robert Arellano.
From the introduction by Lee Child:
Food scientists have discovered a complex compound naturally present in, among other things, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. The compound offers us a number of benefits: it improves our fine motor skills; it increases our attention spans; it improves our cognitive abilities; it improves our long- and short-term memories; it lessens depression...In and of itself, it has no real downside. It's called nicotine. We should all get some.
The problem is the delivery system...The most efficient way is to burn dried tobacco leaves and inhale the smoke. Ten seconds later, the compound is in your brain, doing good in all its various ways. Unfortunately, the rest of the smoke doesn't do good. And therein lies a great mystery of human behavior. To get the good, we risk the bad. Or we prohibit ourselves the good, for fear of the bad. Which approach makes more sense?
High on a mesa in the mountains of New Mexico, a small town hides a dreadful secret. On a morning very soon there will be an accident that triggers a terrible chain reaction, and the world we know will be wiped out.
James Oberhelm, a reporter at Los Alamos National Laboratory, already sees the devastation, like the skin torn off a moment that is yet to be. He believes he can prevent an apocalypse, but first James must escape the devices of a sensuous young blood tech, a lecherous old hippie, a predator in a waking nightmare, and a forsaken adobe house high away in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains whose dark history entwines them all.
A massive bomb is ticking beneath the sands of the Southwest, and time is running out to send a warning. James has to find a way to pass along the message—even if it ruins him.
“Arellano pulls off the not-inconsiderable feat of making the disintegration of his hero more compelling than the end of the world as we know it.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Reads like a top-notch thriller . . . Alternating between the hilarious and the dreamlike, the novel is imbued with the sense of foreboding inherent to Los Alamos’s infamous ‘gift’ to mankind.” —George Mastras, author of Fideli’s Way and writer/producer, Breaking Bad
“Nothing in New Mexico has ever been more secret than Los Alamos, the Atomic City, where a diverse group of geniuses built the first atomic bombs and changed the face of the world forever. That’s the setting and premise for this excellent novel by Cuban-American Robert Arellano. Disaster is about to happen and one man can avert it . . . maybe.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
During the summer of 1997, a series of bombings terrorize Havana hotels. The targets are tourists, and the terrorists are exiles seeking to cripple Cuban tourism and kill the revolution. After Dr. Mano Rodriguez finds himself helpless to save one of the victims, his nemesis Colonel Emilio Pérez of the National Revolutionary Police recruits him into Havana’s top-secret Wasp Network of spies for an undercover job in the most dangerous city in Latin America: Miami . . .
“Action [and] rich landscapes of daily life in Cuba during the special period, including blackouts, food shortages, the intricacies of conversation under an authoritarian government, and the craftiness of locals who offer guided tours to tourists for money—all details from over a decade of Arellano’s journals from his trips in the ‘90s.” —Miami New Times
“A remarkably powerful narrative. The interrogation scene repulses while it grips . . . but readers are advised to stay with it for a rich reading experience.” —Booklist, starred review
“Arellano’s world of clinic doctors, hotel hustlers, secret police, and neighborhood spies is as rich and vibrant a place as I’ve come across in fiction in a long while. His style has something of Bolaño’s cynical, madcap energy, but with Graham Greene’s eye for the small absurdities in life, the same absurdities that, under the right (or wrong) circumstances, spin out into an international catastrophe.” —Literary Hub
One hungry, hallucinatory night in the dark heart of Havana, Mano Rodriguez, a young doctor with the revolutionary medical service, comes to the aid of a teenage jinetera named Julia. She takes refuge in his clinic to break away from the abusive chulo who prostituted her, and they form an unlikely allegiance that Mano thinks might save him from his twin burdens: the dead-end hospital assignment he was delegated after being blacklisted by the Cuban Communist Party, and a Palo Monte curse on his love life commissioned by a vengeful ex-wife.
But when the pimp and his bodyguards come after Julia and Mano, the violent chain reaction plunges them all into the decadent catacombs of Havana’s criminal underworld . . .
“In the weeks before Hurricane Andrew sweeps down on Cuba in 1992, Dr. Mano Rodriguez is caught up in intrigue in this thoughtful, lushly detailed neo-noir.” —Publishers Weekly
“A sad, surreal, beautiful tour of the hell that was Cuba in the immediate aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. The writing is hypnotic, the storytelling superb. Havana Lunar is perfect.” —Tim McLoughlin, editor, Brooklyn Noir
In 2002, real-life mayor of Providence, Rhode Island, Vincent “Buddy” Cianci was convicted of extortion. This is the story of Don “Pally” Dimaio, mayor of La Plata, as his corrupt administration spirals out of control.
From the award-winning author of Curse the Names and Fast Eddie, King of the Bees, this is a wildly inventive satirical novel that toggles between adaptations of the language of Cervantes and a narrative of an American mayor’s quixotic decline.
An abandoned child hustles on the streets of a dystopic, near-future Boston in the aftermath of the Great Devaluation, as squatters have turned the tunnel system into an underground hive known as Dig City. During an elaborate search for his unknown parents, Eddie narrates his adventures as a street performer, pickpocket, adoptee, casino employee, and, finally, commander of the subterranean revolution. . . .
“Takes its cue from William S. Burroughs, Philip K. Dick, Charles Dickens, Jack Kerouac, and Tom Robbins. This may be the first postapocalyptic novel in which the apocalypse was created by a public works project, Boston’s Big Dig, which is currently in its second decade . . . Misdirection and game theory flesh out this funny and surprising book.” —Library Journal