From one of America’s most important writers, is an exquisite novel that examines family ties and the legacy of the Vietnam War through the portrait of a single North Florida family.
Robert Quinlan is a seventy-year-old historian, teaching at Florida State University, where his wife Darla is also tenured. Their marriage, forged in the fervor of anti-Vietnam-war protests, now bears the fractures of time, both personal and historical, with the couple trapped in an existence of morning coffee and solitary jogging and separate offices. For Robert and Darla, the cracks remain under the surface, whereas the divisions in Robert’s own family are more apparent: he has almost no relationship with his brother Jimmy, who became estranged from the family as the Vietnam War intensified. Robert and Jimmy’s father, a veteran of WWII, is coming to the end of his life, and aftershocks of war ripple across their lives once again, when Jimmy refuses to appear at his father’s bedside. And an unstable homeless man whom Robert at first takes to be a fellow Vietnam veteran turns out to have a deep impact not just on Robert, but on his entire family.
In the first two books of his critically acclaimed Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, and , Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Olen Butler won the hearts of historical crime fiction fans with the artfulness of his World War I settings, his swashbuckling action, and his charismatic leading man, a Chicago journalist recruited by American intelligence. In the third installment, , Kit” is now a full-blown spy, and he has to go deep undercover to unravel a secret German plot for turning zeppelins into dangerous killing machines.
It is 1917, and the United States is still wavering on the brink of war. At an elite intelligence meeting at a Hyde Park mansion, Kit’s handlers pair him up with someone he would never have expected — his mother. There’s a German mole somewhere in the British government, and the most likely suspect happens to be a diehard fan of the famous American theater actress Isabel Cobb. Disguised as a German-American reporter named Joseph William Hunter, Kit follows his mother and her escort Sir Albert Stockman from the relative safety of London into the lion’s den of Berlin.
In , Christopher Marlowe Cobb (“Kit”), the swashbuckling early 20th century American newspaper war correspondent travels to Mexico in April and May of 1914, during that country’s civil war, the American invasion of Vera Cruz and the controversial presidency of Victoriano Huerta, El Chacal (The Jackal). Covering the war in enemy territory and sweltering heat, Cobb falls in love with Luisa, a young Mexican laundress, who is not as innocent as she seems.
The intrepid war reporter soon witnesses a priest being shot. The bullet rebounds on the cross the holly man wears around his neck and leaves him unharmed. Cobb employs a young pickpocket to help him find out the identity of the sniper and, more importantly, why important German officials are coming into the city in the middle of the night from ammunition ships docked in the port.
An exciting tale of intrigue and espionage, Butler’s powerful crime-fiction debut is a thriller not to be missed.
World War I is in full swing. Germany has allied itself with the Ottoman empire, persuading the caliphs of Turkey to declare a jihad on the British empire, as President Woodrow Wilson hesitates to enter the fray. War correspondent and American spy Christopher Marlowe Cobb has been tasked to follow a man named Brauer, a German intellectual and possible secret service agent, into perilous waters aboard the ship Lusitania, as the man is believed to hold information vital to the war effort. Aboard the Lusitania on its fateful voyage, Cobb becomes smitten with famed actress Selene Bourgani, who for some reason appears to be working with German Intelligence.
Soon Cobb realizes that this simple actress is anything but, as she harbors secrets that could pour gasoline on the already raging conflict. Following the night of the infamous German U-Boat attack on the Lusitania, Cobb must follow Selene and Brauer into the darkest alleyways of London, then on to the powder keg that is Istanbul. He must use all the cunning he possesses to uncover Selene’s true motives, only to realize her hidden agenda could bring down some of the world's most powerful leaders.
"An unrepeatable feat, a tour de force." —
In , Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert Olen Butler dazzles with his mastery of the short story and his empathy for eccentric and ostracized characters. Using tabloid headlines as inspiration—"Boy Born with Tattoo of Elvis," "Woman Struck by Car Turns into Nymphomaniac," and "JFK Secretly Attends Jackie Auction" — Butler moves from the fantastic to the realistic, exploring enduring concepts of exile, loss, aspiration, and the search for self. Along the way, the cast includes a woman who can see through her glass eye when it's removed from the socket, a widow who sets herself on fire after losing a baking competition, a nine-year-old hit man, and a woman who dates an extraterrestrial she met in a Walmart parking lot. weaves a seamless tapestry of high and low culture, of the surreal, sordid, and humorously sad.
"A slim, erotic and fable-like. . book that picks up on many of Butler's abiding themes — the legacy of the Vietnam War, the clash of Vietnam's folklore and mysticism with American manners. . [Butler is] a writer working to cast a spell." — Book Review
"In a deceptively understated manner, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Robert Olen Butler introduces us to a pair of improbable modern lovers. . [he] plants the seeds of a tragedy that will haunt his readers long after they finish this lyrical love story." —
In , Robert Olen Butler has created an incandescent tale of modern love between a Vietnamese woman, orphaned in 1975 when Saigon fell to the Communists, and a Vietnam War veteran, returning from America to seek closure for decades-old emotional wounds. The more they nurture the love between them, the more they learn about each other, the more complex and dangerous their relationship becomes, and what follows conjures classical tragedy, infused with intense eroticism and with Butler’s reverence for Vietnamese mythology and history. is a landmark work in the literature of love and war.
"There are three things about this planet which are too wonderful for me. Make that four things. The way of dreams in the mind; the way of tears in the eye; the way of words in the mouth; and the way of my wife Edna Bradshaw when she acts like a cat and love-nibbles me into her arms." This is the voice of Desi, the hero of Robert Olen Butler's novel Mr. Spaceman, who has kept a quiet vigil above the Earth for decades while studying the confusing, fascinating, and frustrating primary species of our planet, occasionally venturing to the planet's surface to hear their thoughts and experience their memories using his empathic powers. Now, on December 31, 2000, he prepares for the final phase of his mysterious mission, which begins when he beams a tour bus bound for a Louisiana casino aboard his ship. The twelve passengers will be the last humans whose lives he will experience before he positions his spaceship in full and irrefutable view of the people of Earth, and descend to the planet's surface to proclaim his presence to all of humanity at the turn of the millennium. Poignant, funny, and charming, Mr. Spaceman is filled with unexpected twists and turns, a tribute to the powers of love and understanding and the essence of what it means to be human.
Set in contemporary New Orleans but working its way back in time, A Small Hotel chronicles the relationship between Michael and Kelly Hays, who have decided to separate after twenty-four years of marriage. The book begins on the day that the Hays are to finalize their divorce. Kelly is due to be in court, but instead she drives from her home in Pensacola, Florida, across the panhandle to New Orleans and checks into Room 303 at the Olivier House in the city’s French Quarter — the hotel where she and Michael fell in love some twenty-five years earlier and where she now finds herself about to make a decision that will forever affect her, Michael, and their nineteen-year-old daughter, Samantha. An intelligent, deeply moving, and remarkably written portrait of a relationship that reads as a cross between a romance novel and a literary page turner, A Small Hotel is a masterful story that will remind readers once again why Robert Olen Butler has been called the “best living American writer” (Jeff Guinn, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
Robert Olen Butler, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, teaches graduate fiction at Florida State University — his version of literary boot camp. In Butler reimagines the process of writing as emotional rather than intellectual, and tells writers how to achieve the dreamspace necessary for composing honest, inspired fiction. Proposing that fiction is the exploration of the human condition with yearning as its compass, Butler reinterprets the traditional tools of the craft using the dynamics of desire. Offering a direct view into the mind and craft of a literary master, is an invaluable tool for the novice and experienced writer alike.
Robert Olen Butler's lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Now Grove Press is proud to reissue this contemporary classic by one of America's most important living writers, in a new edition of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain that includes two subsequently published stories — "Salem" and "Missing" — that brilliantly complete the collection's narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.
The new novel from one of American literature’s brightest stars, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning , Robert Olen Butler’s uproarious new novel is set in the underworld. Its main character, Hatcher McCord, is an evening news presenter who has found himself in Hell and is struggling to explain his bad fortune. He’s not the only one to suffer this fate—in fact, he’s surrounded by an outrageous cast of characters, including Humphrey Bogart, William Shakespeare, and almost all of the popes and most of the U.S. presidents. The question may be not who is in Hell but who isn’t. McCord is living with Anne Boleyn in the afterlife but their happiness is, of course, constantly derailed by her obsession with Henry VIII (and the removal of her head at rather inopportune moments). Butler’s Hell isn’t as much a boiling lake of fire—although there is that—as it is a Sisyphean trial tailored to each inhabitant, whether it’s the average Joes who die and are reconstituted many times a day to do it all again, or the legendary newspaperman William Randolph Hearst, doomed to obscurity as a blogger mocked by his fellows because he can’t figure out Caps Lock. One day McCord meets Dante’s Beatrice, who believes there is a way out of Hell, and the next morning, during an exclusive on-camera interview with Satan, McCord realizes that Satan’s omniscience, which he has always credited for the perfection of Hell’s torments, may be a mirage—and Butler is off on a madcap romp about good, evil, free will, and the possibility of escape. Butler’s depiction of Hell is original, intelligent, and fiercely comic, a book Dante might have celebrated.
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