One month until the release of my new novel, Cenotaphs! Here’s some of the early feedback:
Cenotaphs is a beautiful, timely, powerful novel. I read it slowly, savoring each scene. Its elegance, intelligence, poignancy, and humanity remind me of Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See.––Mark Spencer, author of An Untimely Frost
Cenotaphs is a masterful, moving meditation on loss and moving forward, and on the possibility of transcendence. But it’s the characters and their voices that will keep haunting me, so much so that I know readers will return to them time and again, as if they’re long lost members of a family.—Rebecca Givens Rolland, author of On the Refusal to Speak
Cenotaphs is an achingly poignant tale of love and loss, and for its protagonist Ben, how the two are intimately intertwined. In the course of this short novel, classic betrayal and unfathomable loss birth the most unexpected platonic love, and in doing so, show us the power of forgiveness. Marcello’s writing is elegant and lyrical and through a complex web of extremes, Cenotaphs cleverly reminds us that nothing is meant to last forever.––Mark E Sorenson, author of A Restaurant in Jaffa
Rich Marcello writes with the grace of a poet. The narrative is filled with vitality and is steeped in elegance. Reality crosses over seamlessly into mythology and mysticism. ……. Close relationships in a variety of forms are core to the story. The Latecomers is life affirming and beautiful. Marcello writes a story that is truly unique in a world where corporations can buy loyalty and there seems to be little grace in aging.
Indies Today Recommended. Five out of five stars.
Sometimes when I read books like this, I get amazed as to why they are not making it to the bestselling list along with other books which have been made popular solely due to a strong PR game. ………. The Latecomers too because the writing of this book is so fantastic.
The prose is as mesmerizing to read as the story is deep and heart-touching. The plot of the book, however, is something very unique.
But more interesting was the mystical touch to it which kept the book engaging. Its uniqueness is in the emotions that it portrays. The book is very human and reads like a life experience more than a narration. Yet, at no point was my desire for fiction ignored. It is hard to write this book without turning it into a rant where I just wish everyone would read the book so it could be better discussed. I have not read any other books by this author but seeing how good this one was, it would be a pleasure to read the rest.
- Pallavi Sareen, Alex The Shadow Girls Blog
The Latecomers is a profound and philosophical novel about aging and connection, which offers hope and a new vision for how we as a society could age well. Filled with poetry and mysticism, the novel takes the reader on a journey from which he or she will inevitably be changed.
––Rebecca Given Rolland, author of The Wreck of Birds
The Latecomers entertains and enlightens in equal measures––exactly what these dark times call for.”
—Mark Spencer, author of An Untimely Frost
I found Rich Marcello’s absolutely outstanding new novel, The Latecomers, gripping, original, thought-provoking, and very clever. I cared deeply about the main characters, and the book kept me guessing, kept me reading compulsively to find out what happened to them.
––Sophie Powell, author of The Mushroom Man
Here’s a new poem. Rich
I’m in the process of doing my annual push to add users to my email list. If you’ve already signed up, thank you. I really appreciate the support.
If you’d like to receive three to four short notes per year with updates on my work, please consider clicking the link below and signing up for the list. As a special thank you for joining, I’ll send you an ebook of my second novel, The Big Wide Calm.
Here’s a short review from the US Review of Books on The Big Wide Calm to give you a feel for what the book is about.
Thanks for taking a look and feel free to send this note and the link to anyone you think might be interested.
by Rich Marcello
Langdon Street Press
Many musicians dream of making it big, of perhaps finding that next new sound that will land them a recording contract and propel them to the top of the charts. Few, though, truly have the right combination of talent and charisma to capture an audience on stage, and even some of them will never get the breaks to make it past the nightclub circuit. Marcello tells the story of a young woman who has both the ability and the right connections to possibly take her to the next level, but will being famous for music that is only popular in the short run really be enough for her?
Paige Plant is a young and ambitious singer/songwriter who dreams of one day fulfilling her father’s prophecy of seeing her front the next Led Zeppelin. After auditioning for John Bustin, a respected but enigmatic musician of a past generation, she finds herself given a chance to move to John’s estate and work on her music for a year in his private, million-dollar recording studio. But as Paige soon discovers, working with John will do much more than give her a shot at fame and fortune; it will also forever change her musically and emotionally as her mentor guides her into creating multi-generational songs and challenges her to grow as a person.
While this book can rightly be called a coming-of-age story, it is also very much a tale of a young woman who discovers how to truly love. In the beginning, Paige is hard to like. Narcissistic and hedonistic, she is the type of character that one almost wishes to see fail. For Paige, other people seem to exist either to further her career or temporarily satisfy her voracious sexual appetite. She is the stereotypical diva-in-the-making, a future superstar who refuses to allow anyone to even contemplate sharing in her glory. However, throughout the course of the book she gradually learns that the ideas and contributions of others may actually enhance her songs, and that the beauty and power of her music to impact lives may be of greater importance in the long run than her. As she interacts with the brilliant but deeply damaged John, she discovers what it means to really care for someone other than herself, a revelation that culminates in possibly the greatest moment in her story when she becomes willing to literally take a couple of bullets for those she loves.
Marcello’s novel has a lot going for it. Well-written, thought-provoking, and filled with flawed characters, it meets all the basic requirements for best-of-show in the literary fiction category. The author does stumble a bit in one area, though, in his attempt to fully develop his protagonist. As Paige succumbs to her “sex tingle” time and time again irrespective of whether her partners are male, female, or one of each, the sheer number of encounters becomes tedious and actually distracts from the deeper message of the story he is telling. Aside from this, the author’s novel of a girl who discovers in a year’s time more about life, music, love, and herself than she could ever have imagined from the start of her journey is well worth reading.
I’m in the process of doing my annual push to add users to my email list. If you’ve already signed up, thank you. I really appreciate the support.
If you’d like to receive three to four short notes per year with updates on my work, please consider clicking the link below and signing up for the list. As a special thank you for joining, I’ll send you an ebook of my second novel, The Big Wide Calm. Just follow the instructions in the welcome note to get your copy.
For all of my Digital, HP, Compaq, Unisys and Fujitsu friends, feel free to forward this note to folks in your network.
For all of my Morris Knolls and Notre Dame friends, feel free to forward this note to folks in your network, too.
Thank you for all of your support these last years.
Now or never: Local author Rich Marcello is doing what he loves
Seven years ago Harvard resident Rich Marcello made a bold decision to leave high tech and become a writer. “I’d been thinking about it since I was in my early 20s, and I decided I better do what I love now or never.”
In an interview with the Press, Marcello said he had dreamed of being a writer as a kid and did, in fact, write some songs and poems—which he has continued to do. At Notre Dame, Marcello had a humanities professor, a published author himself, who told him, “You write well. I think you’re going to be an author,” and he offered to help. But at that point Marcello had no money and knew he couldn’t make a living writing. So he went into high tech, hoping to earn enough to someday support his real passion.
After 30 years working in large companies such as Digital and Hewlett-Packard having “5,000 people working under him,” he retired. He admits it was a huge leap and he had some fear. He said his colleagues were shocked that he would walk away from what they saw as a highly successful life. For Marcello, though, being successful meant creating something of himself and sending it out into the world. “I asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life, and I went for it.” Marcello said he has no regrets, that it’s “the best thing that has happened to me—work-wise.”
His retirement coincided with the building of a house on Cove Road, with a row of windows facing the pond. What he at first had referred to as “the space I go to write” turned out to be “a separate writing studio with a view to the water.” Every morning, after rising at 5 a.m., having breakfast, and talking with his wife, Maribeth, Marcello walks the 10 yards to work. He writes for four to six hours every day, creating “works of joy.” He is committed to writing literary fiction—books that deal with the big ideas that face us.
An upward climb
Marcello said he had greatly underestimated how long it would take to learn to be a good writer. It was an upward climb through the first two books but after his third novel and the upcoming publication of his fourth, “I’m at a place where I feel comfortable with my writing,” he said.
Describing his process, Marcello said he makes his way through an entire draft before doing any editing. It took him about a year to write his third novel, and he spent another year constantly revising it. “Ideas come to me easily,” he said, adding, “Right now I have about 10 ideas for potential books.” To get started, he has in mind a character in a particular situation, or an event in a particular place. From there he moves forward, “taking things from life and tweaking them.” He realized, by trial early on, that it would not work to write directly about something he had actually experienced. “I didn’t want it to be about me. It had to be general.” He reiterated that the way to become a better writer is to write every day and learn from your own experiments with the craft.
To see examples of Marcello’s process, we talked about his third novel, “The Beauty of the Fall,” published in 2016. The impetus for the book was Marcello’s curiosity: What would happen to a man if he lost everything he loved? How would it be for him? A starting point for the novel came when Marcello had an image of a man being fired from a tech company that he had helped to create. Another early image was a man delivering a eulogy in a church. Dan, the main character in this novel, experiences both of these. Marcello said sometimes a writer has to go to an expert. In his case, one of the major characters, Willow, was based on a woman who worked at a women’s shelter in Nashua, New Hampshire where Marcello serves on the board and to which he donated a portion of his profits from the book. She gave him factual information as well as feedback on how authentic she thought the Willow character sounded.
Minor characters have their place
I asked about one scene in the book where the character seemed to me a bit forced. Marcello said while the major characters have to be complex, sometimes you need a minor character to serve as a vehicle for a larger point the story is making. And, again, it was Marcello’s curiosity, this time about what it means to be young and jobless in this society, that inspired his character of Jack. After a lengthy monologue denouncing the greed and materialism of society and espousing the rewards of living a simple life, Jack completely turns the tables, showing violent cynicism and an instinct to survive. It is this dichotomy that Dan wrestles with, too. He wants to put family first, not be a workaholic, and build a company on ethical capitalism, but he’s part of a society that says, “Go for the money.”
At the end of the book, Dan has lost many things, some things twice—a career and a wife—and yet he is still resilient. While the ending is intentionally “gray,” Marcello said there are moments when the reader knows that Dan has grown emotionally through how he has handled the losses he has suffered and how he can finally let go of them. I didn’t ask about the title, but from our conversation, I think “The Beauty of the Fall” captures the idea that it is possible for a person to become a better human being when things in his or her world fall apart.
There are more female than male characters in the novel, and the love scenes show gentleness and vulnerability on the part of the man. I asked—kind of teasingly—how he got to be so sensitive. Marcello told me that when he was 13, he was sitting next to his dad watching a game on TV when his dad died of a massive heart attack. Lots of therapy, an extended Italian family, and being raised by women helped him to grow emotionally and to remain open and receptive.
Marcello said he is committed to writing women as well as men. He has had a woman editor and early on she would often comment, “A woman wouldn’t say that.” But there’s less of that now, he said. For “The Beauty of the Fall” he had five readers—three women and two men.
In addition to his own writing, Marcello teaches two classes in writing at Seven Bridges Collaborative in Lancaster. The title of his upcoming novel is “The Latecomers.”
Fathers and sons have always shared a powerful and sometimes difficult bond. When to speak, when to hold still, when to love, when to let go.
Rich Marcello, In a marvelous new collection of extraordinary verse, drinks deeply from this well as he channels the thoughts and feelings of every father for his son.
“His face, sunlit, reminds me of a time when I was young / when I convinced myself all the world was dark / when the corner into which I was painted seemed drawn by others./ I want to tell him all of this. Tell him it will be okay. / Tell him he will find his way out of the corner one step at a time / even though some will be false. / But I’ve lived long enough to know he can’t hear me now. / So, instead, I pray forgiveness washes over him instead of sunlight.”
And, of time shared with a beloved grandfather:
“Shiny quarters given your workday suits and ties even on the weekends / the fights on the old radio in the basement / the cherry trees in full bloom / the Jersey shore strawberries / our long talks over football / I was the long-awaited grandson, endeared by order and substitution / the son never to come. / A circle in a square / Hair always a little too long / Values a little too left, I often yielded back then, / I thought out of respect but now I know out of descent. / You taught me first that love amidst difference / like hydrogen on the sun fusing into helium / lights generations.”
And, now and then through the years, when in deepest self-doubt, the son parents the father:
“Sometimes, when I’m dark like now, you visit / hands pocketed and smile worn calm / Without a word, you remind me of how you believed in me before I did / of how father is a name that can apply to anyone / of how a brief blush of peace, of forgiveness, can come when least expected.”
This lyrical collection transcends description, doing what all good poetry does, shining a soft light on often-unexpressed feelings. Marcello’s superb writing flows effortlessly (though all poets know that’s not so), and captures as well the long love of a married couple with years of friendship between them.
“Today persistent snow creates a white ceiling / and swirling walls around us as we walk through the morning. / Mostly we walk in silence, aware we’re connected to some larger radiant web / to some ageless dance, ubiquitous on days like today…/ At home, clothes fall off. / Face to face, we tremble as we kiss / in a way that can only happen after years of walking.”
Five-plus stars doesn’t seem like enough for this glimpse into a good man’s soul. But it’s all we have to bestow on The Long Body That Connects Us All. Order a trade paperback version of this thought-provoking work. You’ll want to read and re-read it again and again.