Wednesday, May 15, 2013

More Raymond DeCapite

(Warning: If you haven’t yet read GO VERY HIGHLY 
there might be spoilers to the endings! I don’t want to 
ruin these beauties for you, so be careful.)

I’ve discovered a wonderful new author, Raymond DeCapite. 
I loved his novel A LOST KING and recently finished 
It’s an incredible book. I just knew that Roxie was going to 
be bad news for Andy, but didn’t expect how DeCapite 
would make him so much more. I loved all the excitement 
Roxie brings to the book, the talk of art and life in the midst 
of Andy’s cardwork-world. I love what a big heart Andy has, 
to everyone, especially his sort of bumbling kindness to Stash. 
It’s funny, sad and sweet all at once. DeCapite’s dialogue is 
outstanding, the writing true and poetic. And the way it 
worked out with Rachel was heartbreaking and real and 
really beautiful. I’m just amazed. I love the descriptions of 
Cleveland, still in clouds of factory smoke and the polluted 
river, the highway crushing through. All the little cafes, 
poolhalls and shops; it’s another world. I tell you, 
Raymond DeCapite is one of my favorite writers now! 
He’s the King.

I was also wondering if Raymond DeCapite ever met 
John Fante, a much-admired writer of similar talent 
and so I wrote to Raymond’s son. 

Michael DeCapite replied, “My father never met Fante, 
but Fante reviewed THE COMING OF FABRIZZE. 
Kind of a funny review, as though Fante didn't quite 
know what to make of the novel's approach, which is 
mythic rather than realistic…I love that scene with Stash 
too, it's mysterious and awkward and real. 
My father wrote a play from that book called 


Michael also clarified the timeline of his father’s writing: 
“FABRIZZE came out in hardcover, from David McKay, 
and then in paper from I-don't-remember. 
A LOST KING initially came out only from David McKay, 
in hardcover. That was all in 1960, 1961. 
He then had nothing published until PAT THE LION 
came out in Cleveland magazine, in 1976. 
I've always assumed he wrote Pat the Lion before 
ALL OUR FORMER FROLICS, but now I'm not sure. 
AND FRO. In the late '70s he started writing plays. 
He wrote at least four. He hadn't written anything 
in quite a while when he wrote THE STRETCH RUN, 
in the late '80s. After that, he wrote only a short story, 
‘The Boilermakers.’ KSU republished Fabrizze and 
A Lost King in 2010, but he knew, when he died, 
that the books were going to be reprinted.”

This past weekend I finished reading 
THE STRETCH RUN. He did it again! 
What a beautiful book. Old Jim and his friendship 
with Frank is the making of another wonderful 
DeCapite story. What an incredible ending too, 
with Frank all of a sudden running to his car 
to get one last look at Jim driving off. 
He catches up with him on the highway, 
but Jim raises his hand off the wheel, 
like a dream or a ghost, to wave him away, 
he’s done and going to another world. 
Lots of heartbreak and kindness and 
poetry in this book. DeCapite’s books 
just keep getting better for me. I’m really 
looking forward to reading THE COMING 
OF FABRIZZE. I ordered it through 
interlibrary loan a couple weeks ago and 
I’m still waiting. DeCapite’s books are 
real hard to find and that shocks me. 
He writes some of the most moving 
stories of America. I was wondering 
if he wrote poetry too, but of course 
he does, it’s in his novels, in his portraits 
of these people’s lives. I can’t get enough 
of it.

I wrote to his son again, to see if his father’s 
plays are available to read and got this reply:

“Though it would be nice to see them 
collected in a book, my father's plays 
have never been published, so you won't 
find them. But Fabrizze and A Lost King 
were reprinted by KSU Press in 2010, 
so there should still be some of those around. 
Before that, they were very hard to find. 
I like that haunted ending of Stretch Run 
a lot myself.”

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