The Deification, A Novel by Jack Remick: An Homage to the Beat Poets

The Deification ($16.95, 358 pp, 6×9 Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60381-134-7) is a picaresque novel by Seattle author Jack Remick that pays homage to the legendary San Francisco beat poets. Some of Remick’s influences include Kerouac’s On the Road and The Dharma Bums and Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

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Also available in Kindle and in other eBook formats on Smashwords.

“The novel is a masculine got-you-by-the-throat wild ride, a coming of age and a coming into agelessness myth.… The Deification is pilgrimage, with religious and Beat reference aplenty—homage to the Beats. Eddie’s search for the way to become a poet, and to learn who he is involves mental and spiritual and physical sacrifice on a frightening scale…. Remick’s stories are made of strong stuff—blood and guts and seedy life, and grand scale mythic transformations, all at a careening pace. In the reading you can feel the writing, the rush directly from Remick’s brain to his pen–an almost steady sensation of acceleration.”  Read more….

—Pamela Hobart Carter, The Seattle Star

“The language, the timing, the humor, the strong verbs, the concrete nouns, the world beneath the world–all wrapped up in one novel … You gotta read this book!”

—Robert J. Ray, author of the Matt Murdock Murder Mysteries

“If American literature produces one On the Road per century, then The Deification by Jack Remick is it for the twenty-first century. This road trip saga of would-be poet Eddie Iturbi from Sanger to San Francisco, from innocence to art, is fast, hot, thick, mythic, erudite, erotic, and intense. The prose is lush, the story, irresistible. Remick inscribes these vivid, gender-morphing characters on the California landscape as if they’d always been there. I believe The Deification will be passed from hand to hand for a long time to come.”
—Priscilla Long, author of The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life and Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry

“Eddie skids along a twisted road of mind-bending drama where characters reek of the human condition in an era featuring drugs, sex and jazz. Remick’s main character starts out as a naïve and hopeful young man who wants to be a poet like Jack Kerouac more than anything else in his life. We watch his transformation as he maneuvers his way through the underbelly of street life, a desperate yet cunning survivor.”
—Marie Romero Cash, author of the Jemimah Hodge Mysteries

To be a writer in America, you have to bleed. Eddie Iturbi, a young car-thief obsessed with the dark magic of Beat culture in a mythic San Francisco, sets off on a spaced-out crusade to connect with the Beat gods. En route Eddie links up with living legend Leo Franchetti, the last of the Beat poets. Leo sends Eddie to the Buzzard Cult, where a mysterious mentor reveals the writer’s ritual of blood and words. Changed and invigorated and back in the City, Eddie falls in love with a snake dancer at the Feathered Serpent. She can’t save him from Scarred Wanda, jealous bad-girl of literature, whose goal is to destroy Eddie before Jack Kerouac relays all the magical secrets of the literary universe. Immortality is just a book away. Will Eddie live long enough to write it?

Jack Remick at Jack Kerouac’s grave

Says Remick, “I grew up in California’s Central Valley. The Valley was huge but stifling. If you climbed the water tower one foggy night and the cops hauled you down, it made the local newspaper. Your one goal was a customized car with a flame job and flipper hubcaps. You wore Levis or Chinos and you cut your hair short. And then along came Jack Kerouac and On The Road. Right behind him came William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg …. On The Road and the Beatniks set me free. Get out of the Valley, they said. Go find your America. And some of us did. …. This novel, The Deification, pays homage to those wild men whose vision of the world opened up the social revolution of the 1960s. They changed everything.”

Jack Remick is a poet, short story writer, and novelist. The Deification is the first book of a series, The California Quartet. More volumes will be released by Coffeetown Press in 2012: Valley Boy, The Book of Changes, and Trio of Lost Souls. Blood, A Novel was published by Camel Press in 2011. Also coming from Coffeetown in 2012: Gabriela and the Widow. You can find Jack online at blood.camelpress.com.

The Deification is currently available on Amazon.com, the European Amazons and Amazon Japan. The Kindle edition retails for $5.95. Other eBook versions can be purchased on Smashwords and through most major eBook retailers. Wholesale orders can be placed through info@coffeetownpress.com, Ingram, and Baker & Taylor. Libraries can also purchase books through Follett Library Resources or Midwest Library Services.

Keep reading for an excerpt:

He looked at the shelf—Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rilke, Verlaine, Valéry, Plath, Shakespeare, Whitman, Schiller, Christine de Pisane, Sexton, Goethe, Aiken, Stevens, Gunn, Hughes. Eddie closed his eyes and rubbed at the fire in them.

They hurt. He rubbed them, still burning, and when he opened them he started because squatting in a half-circle in front of him were Rimbaud and Christine de Pisane, Marie de France and Goethe, Milton and Walt Whitman, each of them wearing a gold name plate on a gold chain. The loft door opened and Sexton and Plath entered wearing name plates and white skirts printed with florals and hair done up in beehives. They joined the circle.

You’re Eddie, Baudelaire said. Villon told us you hang out up here.

You know who I am, but are you who I think you are?

Who do you think I am?

I think you’re Baudelaire. Why do you have name plates?

We need name plates, Baudelaire said, to keep things straight. Some of us are famous but completely unread. There are some of us you all read and keep on reading, and there are the ones you all say you’ll read some day but you won’t, and there are those of us you all lie about having read. Joyce, for example. Proust. And Mann. Tasso. Pound. Eliot. Saint-John Perse.

Saint-John Perse? Eddie said.

You’ve read him, haven’t you?

Not yet, Eddie said. But I will. What do you want from me?

Gut check, Sexton said.

Gut check? Eddie asked.

To see if you’re keeping to the schedule, Goethe told him. We want to see how you’re working, to measure your progress.

Eddie got up, reached for his notebook and pen and laying his Baudelaire down on the bed roll, he said, Do you mind if I write all this down?

Schiller snatched the notebook away, ripped it to shreds, then, pointing at Eddie said,

You should know it all by heart. Take dictation ….

It’s too early, Christine de Pisane said, I can see that. Too early for him.

Eddie reached for his precious notebook, pages falling like snow, and he felt like his heart had stopped beating.

How does it feel, Eddie? Sexton said. To lose it all? Every word and there’s nothing you can do about it.

We’re getting a little bit harsh, Plath said. He’s only seventeen.

Merde, Verlaine muttered, Arthur quit writing when he was nineteen, and you were dead at thirty.

I know that, Plath said, but I didn’t mean to do it.

Rimbaud scoffed. Well, you’re the one who stuck her head in the oven and turned on the gas, chérie. No one else did that for you.

Enough, Goethe said. He rose from the circle and gathered the pages of Eddie’s notebook and spliced them together with god-glue and he read page after page after page in silence and without moving his lips until, scowling over the whitest teeth except for one large cavity in the second incisor buccal, he said, Not an allusion in the whole works. It’s like you’re inventing the wheel again and again.

You mean he hasn’t read us, the ten said as one.

Hey, Leo shouted from below, what the hell are you doing up there, Eddie?

I’m reading, Leo.

Sounds like you’re pounding your pud. Not in the classics section, all right?

Sorry, Leo.

Goethe, eyes on fire—You don’t yet know scheisse, boy. You want to be a poet but you haven’t learned to create myths and you know nothing about ritual. Why do you think all these writers are on the shelves? Tell me. Why?

I don’t know, Eddie said.

Because they all spilled blood.

Especially Sylvia, Rimbaud said.

Stop, Goethe shook a finger at him. Everybody makes mistakes.

She meant do to it, Verlaine said.

She didn’t mean to do it, Whitman said.

Then why did she stick her head in the oven and turn on the gas? Rimbaud asked.

She made a mistake, Goethe said. A mistake. This one, pointing at Eddie, has a spark but he doesn’t have the fire yet and he doesn’t have the hammer.

Good thing, Rimbaud said, ce petit sal con would probably bash his thumbs if he did.

Let’s stick to the business at hand, Goethe said. Ritual and myth. Ignore Arthur. He’s angry because he wrote only two pieces anyone remembers … but what pieces they are.

And with that you redeem yourself, Rimbaud said. I was worried you’d sold your soul to the devil.

Le Bateau ivre, Eddie blurted out.

What? Christine de Pisane said. Is there a glimmer of hope here?

Le Bateau ivre, Eddie said again, and Une Saison en enfer.

Well, listen to this little boy, Whitman said.

What about Une Saison en enfer? Goethe asked.

A foundation piece, Eddie said. Like Leaves.

You’ve read Leaves?

I’ve read Leaves. Without it there’s no Howl. Without le Bateau ivre there’s no Coney Island of the Mind. There’s no On the Road. Le Poète maudit, the outlaw poet, the modern poet.

Villon, Anne Sexton said, and Burroughs and Corso and Dugan.

You’re light, Goethe said, but you’re making progress. What’s the verdict?

He raised his hands. The poets nodded and shrugged.

Progress, he said. This boy’s spark might ignite. He might yet become a hoard-hammerer.

If the rats don’t eat his feet, Rimbaud said.

Eddie, Leo shouted.

Yes, boss?

How about a little help down here?

Eddie looked up. In his hand only his notebook and on the floor, beside the bed roll, his Fleurs du mal.

On the shelf above his head, the books—Schiller, Whitman, Sexton, Ferlinghetti, Kerouac, Rexroth.

He closed his notebook, noticed spots of wet glue on the pages, spots reeking with the vague odor of sulfur.

He went downstairs.

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