Books by Nicholas Christopher

THE TRUE ADVENTURES OF NICOLÒ ZEN by Nicholas Christopher
YOUNG ADULT
Released: Jan. 7, 2014

"As Nicolò morphs from street kid to orphanage crasher to Europe's foremost solo clarinetist, abetted by a fascinating pair of magician brothers, engrossed readers should gladly ride the plot's twists and turns. (Fantasy. 12 & up)"
Accomplished poet and novelist Christopher delivers a debut for teens thickly woven with 18th-century Venetian intrigue and metaphysical magic. Read full book review >
TIGER RAG by Nicholas Christopher
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Jan. 1, 2013

"Red hot and cool."
The story of history's most enigmatic jazz trumpeter becomes a touchstone for a troubled doctor and her daughter. Read full book review >
THE BESTIARY by Nicholas Christopher
Released: July 3, 2007

"A literary thriller in which—unusually—neither 'literary' nor 'thriller' seems an afterthought."
Christopher's smart, entertaining fifth novel (Franklin Flyer, 2002, etc.) is a marvelous hybrid of intellectual quest and well-plotted adventure. Read full book review >
FRANKLIN FLYER by Nicholas Christopher
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 2, 2002

"At one point we're informed that 'Franklin felt as if events—history itself—had been speeded up to a lunatic pace.' So will the reader."
Huge chunks of 20th-century history are handled with elliptical finesse in Christopher's fourth novel (following A Trip to the Stars, 2000): an episodic picaresque with bits and snatches reminiscent of Doctorow's Ragtime, Millhauser's Martin Dressler, Purdy's Malcolm, and Woody Allen's Zelig. Read full book review >
ATOMIC FIELD by Nicholas Christopher
Released: April 1, 2000

"Honest and powerful, this kind of writing cuts through complacency like a knife."
Christopher, a writer based in New York, is the author of six previous collections of poetry, three novels, and a study of film noir. He also edited the anthologies Walk on the Wild Side: Urban American Poetry Since 1975 and Under 35: The New Generation of American Poets. In this book he writes 45 poems for each of two years, 1962 and 1972. In 1962 he was 11, `shooting tin cans off a barrel with a pellet gun` and sneaking surreptitious shots at swallows on telephone wires. This adolescent year is detailed in lines that are simultaneously spare and highly charged: "When you leave the room, / its sad heavy furniture, see-through curtains, threadbare carpet, / the television goes off.` Visual details are recorded without editorial comment, seemingly without emotion. Only occasionally does the poet allow himself even a simile: `The street cleaner, the milkman, the postman, / they're all coming, one by one, in uniform, / like the stragglers at the end of a parade that passed long ago, / or the first scouts in an army that will never arrive." Because the writing is so unadorned and plainspoken, its impact sneaks up. By 1972, at 21, the poet has experienced dropping acid, chain-smoking, and making love in bare rooms. There is a wanderjahre in Europe, chronicled with an equally objective eye. In Barcelona, before heading home to Manhattan, he reflects: `the bright blur / which occasionally occupies some corner of my sleep / or catches my eye from a speeding train / may be my own soul escaping me, / as it must, many times in this life, / each time slipping a little farther away.` Read full book review >
A TRIP TO THE STARS by Nicholas Christopher
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 8, 2000

"with a few overheated insights."
A Trip To The Stars ($24.95; Feb. 8; 416 pp.; 0-385-31804-9): In a novel filled with occasionally breathtaking Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: March 12, 1997

Tough-talking 'tecs, femme fatales, hard-bitten loners, mystery, eros, danger: With rich ingredients like this, it's hard to go wrong, and Christopher certainly doesn't disappoint in this intelligent, thoroughgoing study of film noir. Like that other uniquely American film genre, the western, film noir provides almost illimitable metaphorical and metaphysical illuminations of the national psyche (as a French critic once observed, film noir is America's stylization of itself). From 1945 to 1955 Hollywood produced more than 300 of these hard-edged, cynical, even nihilistic dramas, classic films such as Double Indemnity, Kiss Me Deadly, and Sunset Boulevard. Novelist (Veronica, 1996, etc.) and poet Christopher (though he also includes here such modern noirish films as Taxi Driver, The Usual Suspects, and the groundbreaking sci-fi noir, Blade Runner) agrees with the prevailing critical view that noir was largely a response to WW II. The old screwball comedies of the '30s just didn't seem to work after such massive death and destruction. And the atomic bomb and the Cold War meant that the world could easily and quickly be annihilated. Mechanization and urbanization had created sprawling, depersonalized cities as convoluted as mazes. In fact, Christopher identifies the labyrinth as one of the noir's key figurations. Part Borges, part Freud, it is every confusion modern life labors us with. It is also the classic noir plot: The hero (usually a man) finds himself trapped in increasingly perilous circumstances (usually involving a ``dangerous dame'') from which he can't escape. Despite a number of minor factual mistakes, Christopher's analysis of various films is shrewd and revealing. He manages to tease out a number of subtle connections and similarities among films, everything from the role of dreams to gender issues to noir's attitude toward capitalism. An encyclopedic and very readable appreciation that will probably send many readers hurrying to the video store. Read full book review >
VERONICA by Nicholas Christopher
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Jan. 12, 1996

From an accomplished poet and second-novelist (The Soloist, 1986): a page-turning yarn about magic and time-travel set in modern Manhattan. Again, Christopher offers little poetry but lots of lean, action-packed prose. A renowned magician disappears in the middle of his act, leaving friends and family to fear that he's been trapped in another dimension by Starwood, his bitter rival. Meanwhile, Veronica, the magician's daughter and assistant, sets in motion a complex series of mystical events in order for her father to return to the here and now, using alchemy, Tibetan mysticism, Chinese philosophy, and old-fashioned magic to try to rescue him from oblivion. Enemy Starwood, however, has several tricks up his own sorcerer's sleeve and will stop at nothing to keep Veronica's father confined to history and space. Thus Veronica recruits Leo, the hapless narrator, who's accidentally stumbled into her circle of blind mystics, star-powered musicians, invisible dogs, and mind- reading, astral-projecting relatives. Leo's quickly drawn into Veronica's deadly maneuverings and soon finds himself at Sir Walter Raleigh's execution, then pursued through time by various mystical creatures. Exciting as all this is, the reader increasingly laments the absence of palpably human characters and responses: The entire time that Leo is being tricked, hoodwinked, and duped into a variety of life-threatening, multidimensional experiences, he never comments on or questions the genuinely fantastic adventures he's taking part in, and no one else, either, reacts in any way other than by whipping out a new magic potion or changeling dagger. When the battle-royal that ends atop the Empire State Building finally rolls around, there's little reason to root for any of the cosmic gladiators. High-class, Victorian-style fantasy of the fourth dimension spoiled, unfortunately, by one-dimensional characters. Read full book review >