The Last of Nico Sombra
Set principally in contemporary Buenos Aires, this novel tells of Nico Sombra, a gangster who has lifted himself from the poorest of beginnings to become one of the richest men in Argentina, and his love for the aristocratic Natalia Faustino. Nico was born in the great Villa 31 slum city that takes up the very center of Buenos Aires. The basis for his fortune has been crime…prostitution, drugs, money laundering and many other activities. His rival, Facundo Dominguez, is an Argentine oligarch whose businesses are the stuff of South American entrepreneurial legend. He has kind, aristocratic manners and a vivid presence, but we learn as the novel unfolds that Facundo is a dark, manipulative figure, once criminally influential to the military junta that ruled Argentina in the nineteen-seventies and eighties.
Argentina is a society that has always struggled with great class differences between the poor and the rich. Throughout The Last of Nico Sombra, the characters negotiate these differences, with often terrifying results. Natalia, in love with Nico and victimized by Facundo, is the figure that foments the ultimate disastrous rivalry between these men.
The Splendid City (to be published by Floricanto Books in January 2019):
Pablo Neruda, running for his life.
From the prologue… “I speak of the extreme south of my country.” The far south, he thought. Yes. But even more, the nearer east, the Andes cordillera with its terrifying mountains…loving, ghostly mountains…so brutal…splendid but beyond difficult…merciless.
“We who live in Chile must go so far to touch the South Pole with our boundaries, that it seems to us very like the geography here of Sweden, whose head brushes against the snowy north of the planet.” Pablo smiled, enjoying the silly metaphor he had just made. His breathing began to hurry, though. Suddenly he was in danger again…the memory of it. “Down there, in those far reaches of my country….” He felt his voice grasping for the occasion, his wish to tell the story. “Where events—that are now themselves quite forgotten—once took me, one must cross…” He laid a hand on his chest. “And I had to cross…” He took in a breath. “The Andes mountains.”
An Arena of Truth: Human Conflict in Black and White (to be published by Amazon Books in early 2019):
In 1972, Dr. Peter Kranz, a young white psychologist/scholar from New York City, proposed to the administration of the University of North Florida, located in Jacksonville, a course that would be titled “Human Conflict: Black and White.” Each class ideally would be composed of a dozen people, balanced between Blacks and Whites, and gender-balanced as well. The purpose of the class would be to allow the students to confront one another with their honest, open feelings about the racial situation in the U.S. It would be a no-holds-barred confrontation on a weekly basis. The course would also require that all the students make a weekend visit, together, to an all-Black college, as well as a week-long stay, individually, in the home of people from the opposite race. The UNF administration okayed the idea, and in the Fall semester of 1972, Pete Kranz began the project.
The class was offered every semester for six years. It was the only such class ever to be offered in an institution of higher learning in this country. The idea and, especially, its methods remain unprecedented in American education. The truth was told here, and, given the fractious racial difficulties of current times, should be told again.