Cyndi O'Connor

Michael Kent

Born in 1958, west of Paris, France, writer, visual artist, musician, published Les Maléfices du fardeau d'Atlas, his first book of poetry in 1985. He has written six novels, including THE BIG JIGGETY (Xlibris, 2005), POP THE PLUG (Xlibris 2012) and ALL OF THE NIGHT (Xlibris, 2015), two of which he has also illustrated. Also, his verse has been published in The Poet's Domain and other venues. His short stories and, on occasion, art work, have found a niche in Happy, Kinesis, The Quill, The Urban Age, Voie Express USA,  ...See more >


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"The text features a surfeit of introspective musings that add humor and creative energy to Kent’s oddly addictive narrative... A fun, original novel about seeing culture through foreign eyes."

Kirkus Reviews


AWARDS, PRESS & INTERESTS

Favorite author Charles Bukowski

Favorite book Post Office

Unexpected skill or talent Can whistle ultra loud and melodically. Always on the alert to cut suckers from trees, often freeing them once the pesky wires gnaw into the trunk .

Passion in life the environment


BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1-5035-6167-0
Page count: 220pp

After a series of unfortunate events, a recent college graduate questions his faith in life and love.

The protagonist of prolific French-born writer, artist, and poet Kent’s (Pop the Plug, 2012, etc.) third novel arrives in Washington, D.C., from Stone Harbor, Massachusetts. Fresh from college and his claustrophobic family, he is eager to prove his ambition and worth to his critical father and himself. It’s the early 1980s, and Albert Nostran, an aspiring journalist raised in France, struggles to find his footing amid the neighborhoods within his new chosen city. Young and restless, a variety of women flit into and out of his romantic orbit: a museum patron, a Gremlin owner, a sweet magazine salesperson. There’s also his oddball, “only partially employed” new roommate, Davey Gronket, and pushy boss, who both add dramatic texture to a story that primarily runs on characterization. Nostran learns the journalistic ropes through a grueling, graveyard-shift internship at Universal Wire Service, where eccentric co-workers and news and personal events keep things lively, among them the precarious presidential election of Ronald Reagan, the murder of John Lennon, and the protagonist’s father’s stroke, which particularly lends the narrative a good dose of poignancy. But when Nostran becomes smitten with the boss’s daughter Claire, their ill-advised relationship expectedly fizzles, and the hero is tossed back onto the unemployment line. Kent’s era awareness of snail mail and landlines is spot-on, and Nostran is an instantly likable young man whose attempts at finding a girlfriend include adorable poetry and postcards dropped in mailboxes. The internal monologues lamenting his female frustrations are both painful and hilarious: “It was either too ripe or not ripe enough because, as my lips were about to indulge in the most natural of all acts, she turned her head away, and all I could feel was a cheekbone.” The featherweight plot isn’t the main attraction in Kent’s novel, however; it is his resilient leading man who, even amid a string of ill-fated episodes, remains a model of perseverance and positive thinking that readers should find as charming as Nostran’s search for true love.  

A delightfully calamitous chronicle of city struggles, bad luck, and mismatched dating.    

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1479725083
Page count: 208pp

The quirky adventures of a Frenchman in America.

Poet, novelist and French-English translator Kent has a unique character in Albert Nostran. He was introduced in The Big Jiggety (2005), a coming-of-age yarn that followed the ill-prepared French-born American’s struggle through collegiate life in Montana and Maine in the 1970s. Here, Kent vibrantly continues Nostran’s chronicles as a pensive college senior double-majoring in English and art and pondering what’s sure to be “a field of question marks” upon graduation. He continues to live in the freshman Hollister Hall dormitory suite shared with plucky roommate Willy Lee. Only dabbling in photography, Nostran is anxious about postgraduation job prospects, and with little girlfriend experience beyond Sabine back in his native France, his mind becomes unnecessarily preoccupied with Willy’s sexuality. A parade of peripheral characters marches through Kent’s dialogue-driven narrative, most tapping into the uncertainty of postcollege life. Some, such as randy professor DeBaal, are eager to explore Nostran’s more carnal desires. Nostran’s breaks are spent hitchhiking to Stone Harbor, Massachusetts, where his paranoid, brutish American father once enjoyed a livelihood as a journalist for Thyme Magazine. His mother, having sold the family home in France to relocate to Stone Harbor, is unimpressed with the seaside town’s alcohol restrictions, but once settled in, the Nostran family accepts America as their new home while Albert continues his job-seeking exploits amid the clash of cultures. The text features a surfeit of introspective musings that add humor and creative energy to Kent’s oddly addictive narrative. Also helping is a hodgepodge of well-placed references to classic American literature and abstract art history. Setting the novel in motion early is a comical scene in which the reluctant protagonist is lightheartedly coerced into allowing Willy to become his roommate because “only weird guys are worth hanging out with.” This cast of eccentrics is worth spending time with as well.

A fun, original novel about seeing culture through foreign eyes.

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1-59926-737-1
Page count: 264pp

A coming-of-age novel follows a sexually frustrated teenager who leaves France to study in America.

When Albert Nostran departs his family home in the Saint-Germain-sur-Morin commune of France to attend college in Missoula, Montana, he expects romance and reconnection with his roots. His father, an American-born journalist with a fiery temper, has always maintained a sense of nationalism and encouraged the wisecracking, horny teen to live in the U.S. Albert remembers “when growing up in France how I cherished the idea of coming to America, being in America…careen down ten-lane freeways in a Pontiac GTO convertible pursued by the Hell’s Angels and the Dalton Brothers headed by Marlon Brando, solve mysteries with Philip Marlowe and Raymond Chandler, take a dip in the Mississippi.” What follows is a fairly standard, but amusing and well-written tale that finds Albert navigating cultural differences and desperately chasing women for sex. At one point, he complains: “All my life people have told me to relax. I do not feel comfortable relaxing.” Set in 1977, the tale sprinkles in a number of cultural references, from Elvis Presley to La Fontaine, bringing a welcome perspective to a time that is often romanticized. Kent’s (All of the Night, 2015) keen observational skills provide wonderful snapshots of America from an outsider’s perspective. Dissecting U.S. television commercials, Albert muses: “Diarrhea medication and disarmament negotiations blend together to produce a most unsavory guacamole.” But at times, the protagonist’s reflections give way to curmudgeonly pontification (“Universities corrupt adolescents to transform them into insipid and self-righteous adults”), which distracts from the steady pace of the hijinks-filled tale. Albert is perhaps at his harshest when judging women. At one point, criticizing a plain-looking student he nevertheless pursues, he notes: “She typified some of the women of the New World who although oozing with ugliness remain arrogant.” Kent’s novel fits neatly within the tradition of well-crafted, meandering prose that tackles a young man’s maturation through the consumption of culture and women, which may leave some readers uncomfortable. Still, Albert’s experiences with American culture are drawn sharply into focus when the author smartly transports him back to Europe by the end of the story for a summer vacation. The student’s measured insights, shared with friends and family, and his subsequent capers make for a charming and compelling read.

A fun and earnest tale for fans of international adventures, dry humor, and sexual awakenings.

ADDITIONAL WORKS AVAILABLE:

ALL OF THE NIGHT
Fictionalized autobiography

While landing a job at an international press agency in Washington has enabled the young Albert Nostran to flee his manic father and the existential boredom of the northeastern provinces, stability, and the ideal woman are goals that still elude him. The graveyard shift and a loathsome roommate do little to lift his morale. Not sufficiently trained, not overwhelmingly motivated, his work does not shine. A ray of hope trickles in the presence of a young woman who happens to be none other than the boss's daughter. The romance falters and he is fired. A series of less than inspiring jobs ensue until he encounters the son of a friend of his father's who discusses free-lancing. A more willing lass provides him with an opportunity to write about a local scultpure exhibit. The novel concludes with this humble step in the right direction and a third romance which appears to offer more hopes for stability. In ALL OF THE NIGHT, we empathize with a young man left to his own devices, attempting to assert himself in the world of full-blown adults he is yet to feel totally comfortable with Like its three predecessors, All of the Night is riddled with a compelling blend of humor and pathos, in the presence of Nostran's pointed, sometimes profound never boring commentary and a panoply of colorful characters giving the protagonist reason to push ahead although the deck is not entirely stacked in his favor.

ISBN: 2015905690
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THE BIG JIGGETY
Fictionalized autobiography

THE BIG JIGGETY, a picaresque, romantic, humorous, philosophical, sociological, (mostly autobiographical) novel, relates the travels and travails of Albert Nostran. An 18-year old American born and raised in the country outside 25 miles east of Paris, his quest is to find America, a woman, and himself. Lugging his guitar, Don Pedro, fleeing his cantankerous father, well-meaning mother and a brother he wants to turn into a fellow musician, he braves disease, fatigue, cold and angst to land in Big Sky University in Missoula, Montana, to sink his teeth into the frozen American west. Many aspects of US/Montana life intrigue the protagonist, yet Nostran retains a European sense of history and critical mind; arguably a Tocqueville of the late 1970s, he never misses an opportunity to comment on the local societal oddities and contradictions. "Perhaps you were more French than you thought," Damian his childhood friend tells the homesick hero in chapter one. Before they launch off in an exploration of a bleak, wintery, nocturnal Paris, during which Nostran loses his innocence in the arms of a prostitute. After whom our hero believes he has contracted something nasty, yet another little inconvenience he must face when flying back to Chicago via London. And matters do not improve in the endless yet at times magical bus ride between Salt-Lake-City and Butte, and he comes close to freezing trying to hitch-hike along the wide open spaces between Butte and Missoula. A few pills later, the sex quest resumes. Undaunted, Nostran in his diaspora flirts with one woman and then another with precious little of the supposed Gallic related savoir faire. Life at the university does harbor the excitement of weekends and dormitory life, with its freshman friendships and naïveté as well the tedium and occasional enlightenment of classes. And extra curricular activities, such as teaching dorm-mates how to strum a guitar. Against this background vivid characters are etched: Threats, the homophobic narcissistic football player; Rotch, another jock, who after having learned guitar from Albert begins to ridicule his former mentor. Up in Polson, Mt., we encounter Montcarlson and his wife, the curious couple who originally recommended the university. In Dubois, Wyoming, we meet Lancelot Wolf, owner of the Salamander Ranch, and Jim, the bisexual bartender, who reveals unexpected secrets about women the eager Nostran very quickly applies to Tweets, the stocky femme fatale in the blue car he more than befriends on yet another glacial return to Missoula. Bags repacked, the last U.S. trek takes him and two others back east to Chicago and New York--one American city whose intensity captivates him. If the USA experience at times mystified the adolescent, returning to France in the summer proves anticlimactic. At first. What the old country appears to lack in razzle-dazzle, it gradually makes up in terms of simplicity and deep-rooted friendships. Besides, after a stint with translations Nostran cannot sit still for long. Driving from his boyhood home in Seine-et-Marne (a little east of Paris), first up to Amsterdam with three rambunctious of old high school mates, then down to the Spanish border, via the Loire valley, with the equally lust-ridden Lecoq-Hasien, Nostran once again rediscovers the virtues of Europe and home. At the very last minute when all sexual hope has been abandoned, a young lady on the Saint-Jean-de-Luz boardwalk asks him for a light.

ISBN: 2005908413
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Kent presents ALL OF THE NIGHT
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBkKYtpA6BU