Recalling a friend’s novel (15 years ago), and the question as to whether to self-publish

IMGA2498On my regular Book Review blog (link from the Profile on the “About” page), I review books that deal with important issues of interest to me.  Some of them are fiction.  A few of them are self-published, when I know the author or when the subject matter is close enough (and broad enough in implications) to catch my notice.

In August, 1997, about a week before I moved from Arlington VA to Minneapolis for a job change (explained yesterday here ) , a writer B. Daniel Blatt (or “Dan Blatt”) lent me (at a Log Cabin Republicans reception in Alexandria) a copy of the manuscript of his novel “Calypso’s Cave”.  I actually read a lot of the novel in restaurants and hotels on the way out that “Labor Day” (no pun to the movie) weekend.  I recall stopping for lunch on Monday in Madison, Wisconsin, in some family restaurant on the isthmus, and reading the most critical climactic chapter near the end.  (It seems like I have some epiphanies in family restaurants when “On the Road” – again a pun for another movie).  I mailed the manuscript back to him about a week after I settled in to my new apartment (the Churchill) in downtown Minneapolis.

Dan has published the first chapter “A Boy’s Best Friend” online, on his “Gay Patriot” website, here.    He makes a note about self-publishing there.  (I’ve heard of Sean Floyd’s novel but haven’t read it – yet).  The novel tells the story (which seems autobiographical, to me at least) of an adult gay man who moves from the Midwest (Cincinnati) to Washington DC and encounters his high school best friend.  That is indeed a situation that is meaningful to me, given what happened in my own high school and college days (see the posting on Jan. 10, 2014 on my “dadtn” blog).  In fact, the concept vaguely relates to my own 1969 manuscript, “The Proles”, which I will discuss here soon.  The meaning of the metaphorical title becomes apparent toward the end.  I won’t say more here, but you can look on Wikipedia for the source story in Homer’s The Odyssey here.  Oddly, when I was substitute teaching back around 2005 in a ninth grade English class, the students came across this story.

The novel is mentioned in Dan’s online resume here   That posting mentions several of his other projects, including a screenplay of Beowulf.  I do recall the 2007 Paramount 3-D film “Beowulf” directed by Robert Zemeckis with Neil Gaiman and Roger Avary adopting the anonymous poem that we all read in senior high school English (as well as “Everyman”).

I don’t find the novel on Amazon.  It strikes me that the novel would indeed lend itself to an independent film, of the sort that often gets released by Wolfe Video or Breaking Glass Pictures.  The style of storytelling and feel is very 90’s in nature, with mention of favored spots in Washington then, like the Pop Stop on 23rd St (near Dupont Circle).  The feel of Washington has changed since then.


Blatt is an alumnus of Williams College, in northwestern MA.  I know of another senior graduating from Williams this year who will go to graduate school at Oxford next fall.

Shortly after moving to Minneapolis , I met thriller novelist Vince Flynn, when he had self-published his first novel “Term Limits” with his own Cloak and Dagger Press in St. Paul, MN.  I attended a booksigning party in at a Barnes and Noble in Edina.  I remember finding the novel quite riveting, as three politicians in Washington are “executed” by hit men in one night as the novel starts, and the incidents are quite riveting to read.  (They anticipate two incidents in Prince Georges County Md where technicians in the counter-terrorism world were apparently assassinated in 2008, and these cases are still unsolved.)   Flynn’s first novel certainly anticipates the partisan gridlock that paralyzed Congress over the debt ceiling anb government shutdown in 2011 and then again in 2013. Flynn would go on to get a contract with Pocket Books.

Actually, in 1998, I heard about another manuscript by a Minnesota college student in which there is a stock market in the value of people’s souls.

I should mention that I knew the late playwright Robert Cassler (through Gays and Lesbians for Individual Liberty), and saw a vidoe of his play “Second in the Realm”  (about Steve Langton, picked by the pope to be Archbishop of Canterbury for King John) as produced by a Fairfax County group in 1996.  I’ve also browsed the script of “The Trial of John Peter Zenger“, about the first successful battle over the free press in colonial America.  Both of these would make interesting films.  His biographical site is here. Rick Sincere wrote about the first of these plays in a 2005 posting “790 Years of Magna Carta” here,

Picture: I don’t have anything from Dan’s Cincinnati, so the closest I could come was Mt. Vernon, Ohio (NE of Columbus), August 2012, my trip.  Some of the soap “Days of our Lives” is supposed to take place around here (although the real “Salem” in Ohio is a small town to the East a bit).  The second picture is at Williams College (my trip, Aug. 2012).

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