Books by John Nichols 1965-1986
THE STERILE CUCKOO
(David McKay, 1965), currently a W.W. Norton paperback. It's a wacky college romance between Jerry Payne and Pookie Adams. According to Harpers, my novel is all about "...first love, first sex, and (above all) a kooky heroine who talks like a wild combination of Holden Caulfield and Edward Lear."
THE WIZARD OF LONELINESS
(Putnam's, 1966), currently a W.W. Norton paperback. During World War II, 10-year-old Wendall Oler travels to Vermont to live with his grandparents' family after the death of his mother. His dad has joined the Marines. Wendall is a nasty little kid at the start who comes of age as his grandparent's family falls apart during the last year of the war. The New York Times said, "John Nichols has remarkable insight into life's crazy blend of comedy and tragedy."
THE MILAGRO BEANFIIELD WAR
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1974), currently a Henry Holt paperback. Joe Mondragon, a 35-year old Chicano handyman cuts water illegally into his father's fallow beanfield, and all hell breaks loose. It's a big novel about a small town New Mexico tempest in a teapot that threatens to start a civil war. With 200 colorful local characters and a ribald sense of humor, it's probably my best-known novel. Book reviewers called it "funny," "irreverent," "poignant," "wondrously fresh and alive," "zesty," "affectionate" "a wholly first-rate comic novel" and so forth, yada yada.
THE MAGIC JOURNEY
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978), currently a Henry Holt paperback, is a large novel with 200 characters covering 40 years in the "betterment of Chamisaville," a larger town than Milagro that includes a Native American Pueblo. The politics are heavier than Milagro's, but there's plenty of laughter. April Delaney and Virgil Leyba and Icarus Suazo are three of my favorite characters. This is also my favorite book. The Los Angeles Herald Examiner proclaimed: "There's no excuse for this marvelous tale spinner not having become the household name so many of his contemporaries are ... as huge and quirky an American writing talent as has materialized in the past twenty years." Quotes like that leave me breathless. How do I get ahold of what the critic was smoking?
THE NIRVANA BLUES
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1981), currently a Henry Holt paperback. Another long novel with a big cast of characters, again set in my fictional Chamisaville, this book completes my New Mexico Trilogy. It's a goofy and off-thecharts lunatic send-up of the self-centered me-generation, EST-, Ekankar-, Scientology-saturated New Age dysfunctional world that demolished our nation after the Sixties. According to the Chicago Tribune, "John Nichols has all of Steinbeck's gifts, the same overwhelming compassion for people, plus an even finer sense of humor, and the need to celebrate the cause and dignity of man ... he has left us with a classic American trilogy for our time."
A GHOST IN THE MUSIC
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979), currently a W.W. Norton paperback. Bart Darling is a rambunctious Hollywood stunt man and Grade B movie director on location in northern New Mexico to make an exploitation movie. His much younger pregnant girlfriend, Lorraine Waldrum, is a tough little country and western singer. His son, Marcel, is a socialist Ph.D who can't stand his dad but loves him anyway. They meet in Chamisaville during the last chaotic week of Bart's life when all hell breaks loose on the movie set he's in charge of. The Philadelphia Inquirer praised its "...humor leavened with compassion."
IF MOUNTAINS DIE
(Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), currently a W.W. Norton paperback. This full-length memoir of my early days in New Mexico is accompanied by 65 beautiful photographs by my good friend William Davis. The book has been in print for 30 years. For anyone interested in northern New Mexico, our book is for you.
THE LAST BEAUTIFUL DAYS OF AUTUMN
(Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1982), currently an Ancient City paperback. My second memoir effort, with 65 of my own color photographs. A sequel to If Mountains Die and a prequel to On the Mesa (see directly below). The book is a paen to the autumn season in my territory, it's rich with eulogies to people I've loved who have died, there are even forty pages of my pratfall-laden fly-fishing adventures down in the Rio Grande Gorge near my home. Library Journal said it's "...by turns sentimental, harsh, lusty, and humorous."
ON THE MESA
(Peregrine Smith, 1986), currently an Ancient City paperback. This non-fiction piece is my Walden Pond. It completes a trilogy that includes If Mountains Die and The Last Beautiful Days of Autumn. I spent years observing and photographing a tiny stock pond out on the mesa west of where I live. The puddle was surrounded by sagebrush, no trees for miles, and above it was nothing but wide western sky riddled by clouds, thunder, lightning, ravens, nighthawks, little bats and migrating waterfowl. The Denver Post called this book "...a rhapsody on the healing power of the earth."
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