Two Californias




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Quirky, bittersweet, and darkly funny, Robert Glick laces the psychological realism of family drama with lyric, associative language and intricate plot structures. A young boy goes on a quest to buy an elephant pendant that he believes will save his parents' marriage. An anarchist, channeling his rage from his father’s premature death, starts an underground needle exchange program. Trapped between his alcoholic pharmacist boss and his best friend, who is illegally trafficking Ritalin, a teenager learns empathy through Ms. Pacman and elder care homes. From the suburbs of Los Angeles to the countercultures of the Bay Area, the emotionally powerful, intricately woven stories in Two Californias explore the unexpected and unorthodox ways we come to terms with everyday tragedies.

Buy This Broadside!

Check out this gorgeous broadside, designed and letterpressed by Anne Royston. Size is 11 1/4" by 15 1/4". Text excerpt from the novella "Failure Mechanism (Voicebox)" in Two Californias. Limited first edition of 50. $25 (includes US shipping and handling) via Paypal or Venmo. If you buy one now, $5 of each purchase will be donated to RAICES (The Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services).

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Advance praise for Two Californias

Disturbing, tender, revelatory, and gorgeously expansive, Two Californias offers provocative pleasures even as it delivers us to the endless grief of desire, the bewildering repercussions of kindness, the terrible cost of unveiled devotion. Readers fierce enough to plunge to the depths of their own fears will be exhilarated by the emotional complexity, abiding humanity, and transcendent beauty of this eloquent collection.
Melanie Rae Thon, author of Voice of the River

The people inhabiting these stories are fully in their complex lives, yet they’re rendered through a kind of hyper vivid language that makes their struggles seem hopeful just due to the great play of the words. What a rollickingly alive debut!
Aimee Bender, author of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

In Robert Glick’s bravura collection — in which, by way of ambiance, old-fashioned pencil sharpeners seem to turn in character’s stomachs and four-pound postage scales are set to spin, by imagined overburden, upwards of 70 times — sad boys hide in trunks and covered jacuzzis, grandmothers rise from the dead and mermaids on matte silver pedestals have their heads taken off with chainsaws. Two Californias is a fizzing, crackling, nightmarish wonderfest. I was in from the dusty oaks in the first paragraph to the rattlesnake in the last.
Laird Hunt, author of Kind One and The Evening Road

Recent News

2/25/21: Conversation about 2C and Sunsphere with Andy Farkas in The Literary Review

A few months ago, I had a long email conversation with the fiction writer Andrew Farkas (Sunphere, BlaxeVox, 2019) about life, the conceptual frameworks scaffolding our books, and how we see our writing within the accelerated tragedy/oddity we call 2020-21. Fractured timelines, simple machines, metafiction in the Trump era, and the “extreme differences between characters and actual humans.” It was a rare gem, to talk shop with Andy, and perhaps, tentatively, useful and/or pleasurable in the worldings of others. I’m so happy that our conversation is now up at The Literary Review (permalink), where its ones and zeroes are mingled with a super poem by Aimee Nezhukumatathil and fiction by Timea Sipos. Give them a read!

12/22/20: The Arts Fuse Recommended, 2020

Thanks (once again!) to Vincent Czyz and The Arts Fuse, not only for the wonderful review a few months ago but for an extra shout out (right next to Lance Olsen’s My Red Heaven) in their Recommended Books, 2020 feature. It’s super to see Two Californias in such smart company…

Holiday Gift?

It’s been a strange year to celebrate a book – and it has seemed best to put Two Californias on the backburner, to work on new things during this pandemic – but: I should say that if you’re looking for good literary presents this year, please purchase a copy. It helps, and I think the book is worth it, I really do.

If you let me know you bought a copy, I will send you a world-class broadside of 2C designed and printed by Anne Royston.

And if you’re in the Rochester area, please consider buying 2C (or other books) from Writers & Books’s own Ampersand Books, which is doing wonderful community work for Western New York and supporting local authors (like me).

10/14/20: Zoooom Reading at Union College

I’m very excited to be reading virtually at Union College Wednesday, October 14 at 7pm EST – it’s open to the public, so please stop on by for the reading and Q&A! Thanks so much to the wondrous Shena McAuliffe and everyone at Union… / Meeting ID: 917 2285 1511

10/4/20: Review of Two Californias in Heavy Feather Review

I dropped the ball on this one, so trying to rectify it now: there’s a lusciously complex review of Two Californias in the Heavy Feather Review. As the book makes its snaky way (and here, I’m thinking of the old computer Snake game) through the world, I’m stunned by the different takes other writers have, and the ways they’ve immersed, emerged, re-immersed. A shout-out to Heavy Feather Review, who consistently do amazing, amazing work, and manifold thanks to Feliz Moreno for spending so much time with the collection!

9/12/20: Review of Two Californias in Tarpaulin Sky

Thanks so much to Michael Palmer for writing about Two Californias in the “What I’m Reading Now…” section of the wonderful press Tarpaulin Sky. He says the book is funny (amongst other things), which pleases me so; I’ve always feared that the book’s humor gets lots in the patterning of darker subjects…

7/27/20: Review of Two Californias in The Arts Fuse

Many, many thanks to Vincent Czyz and his incisive, extensive review of Two Californias in The Arts Fuse! I love the abstract, which summarizes things nicely: “Two Californias is full of humor, good writing, and thoughtful angles on human existence—with zombies thrown in for good measure.”

4/27/20: Review of Two Californias in The Literary Review

Endless thanks to Karin Falcone Krieger for this gorgeous review of Two Californias in The Literary Review. Besides the nice ego boost and the fuzzy feeling when you know the book (especially in difficult times) has been circulating, I’m also starting to treasure the different ways each reviewer approaches the book – which topics are subjects of focus, which stories, which writing lineage the book splays out from. I love the review’s notation of menace underlying the stories, and am touched/humbled by calling the book a “Gen X Thomas Pynchon or low key cousin of David Foster Wallace.” Thanks, Karin!

4/15/20: Review of Two Californias in THE SEM10TIC STANDARD

Thanks so much to R. Leigh Hennig for a glowing spotlight (with the humbling post title “Superiority Through Characterization”!!!) in THE SEM10TIC STANDARD. I admit that I didn’t think I’d ever be favorably compared (or compared at all) to Stephen King! I really appreciate Leigh’s insights into character development in 2C, and especially the ways that he thinks of Two Californias in terms of the horror genre; that horror, or domestic horror, doesn’t intrinsically involve the supernatural or even the superviolent…

3/29/20: Review of Two Californias in Compulsive Reader

A boost to the ego amidst quarantine days.

Lots of gratitude and appreciation to Juliana Converse for writing a terrific and incisive review of 2C, and to Maggie Ball for hosting/spearheading the wonderful Compulsive Reader. Such a wonderful feeling not simply to be complimented; more that someone has spent deep time with the work, digested it, and evolved it with their own words. 2C, for Converse, with language that “is vibrant, even magical, and often humorous,” conveys how “our attempts to reconcile loss are imperfect, and ultimately transforming.” Thank you!!!

Compulsive Review / Review of Two Californias