New from Mark Cramer:
“I read this book by Mark Cramer called Please Hold All Tickets that changed my entire outlook. It was a fictional story that described these two guys, who were modeled
after Don Quixote and Sancho Panza and their odyssey through racetracks all over the country. Through their dialogue I picked up the idea of using the exacta as place
bet, and I haven’t had to worry about the bills ever since.”
—Longshot Larry, as quoted in a Daily Racing Form column by Dave Litfin.
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“Taking inspiration from those overwrought scenes of religious ecstasy beloved of the Baroque painters, T. C. Van Adler has written a morbidly funny debut mystery in ST. AGATHA’S BREAST.”
- Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times
- Brian, Dignity Newspaper
“St. Agatha’s Breast isn’t for every taste, but for fans of the cerebral mysteries such as Umberto Eco’s classic The Name of the Rose… will be fascinated with this.”
- The Portland Oregonian
Saint Agatha's Breast - Why Now?
Although the date for the re-release of my trilogy of novels was set some time ago, I’ve been reflecting on whether it is appropriate to put them out during the Coronavirus Crisis. And I’ve decided that indeed it is, that they do indeed have something to say during these times. But not at all for the reasons we all had thought a year ago when we enthusiastically contracted to do so.
Twenty-five years ago I was filled with concern–indeed at times rage–when I began to write these books. Studying and teaching at the Pontifical University in Rome as a religious order priest, I saw first hand the arrogance of the hierarchy, a concerted cover-up of clerical sexual abuse, deep-seated misogyny and homophobia. Having come from the art world, where I had secretly worked as an informant with Interpol, I knew of the collusion of galleries with International Crime Networks. Rather than write a Jeremiad of all this, I decided to construct a series of “light-hearted” (if “macabre,” as the Times had it) art murder mysteries. My agent got over a dozen rejections for the first book (Saint Agatha’s Breast) not because of quality but, reading between the lines it was so easy to see, rather, fear of raising these topics. Primarily clerical sexual abuse as the Church still reigned untarnished, in those pre-Boston Globe days.
But times have changed. Radically so. While all those things that compelled me to write these books are still with us, they only survive among the benighted. What I’ve realized in the careful re-editing undertaken these past months is that the texts look quite different now, read very differently. Call it hermeneutics. Rather than issues I now see the characters: some consistently overdrawn like Zinka – that magnificent transsexual art historian; others like Father Bertie, evolving from a cowed monk to a self-assured gay man. But more significantly still, what a pleasure it is to be thrown back to the final years of the last century. That time before the onslaught of social media and cell phones, when receiving an email was absolutely thrilling and a fax was imbued with gravitas.
My hope is that readers (and listeners once the audiobooks are released) will find solace in a simpler time. Yes, the problems addressed in the books are still with us but we are making headway in addressing them. And how wonderful to walk the streets of Paris and Rome, to climb up the Palace in Prague and to wander the campus of Bryn Mawr. A reminder of pleasures awaiting us all when these dark days pass – as they surely will.
So yes, I believe now is a perfect time to re-release these “page-turners” (critics words not mine). Let our minds range freely as we shelter in place. Let us frolic in the silly past as we deal with the trials of the present. At times like this, who doesn’t need a little Zinka