I’m excited to announce here on A View from this Wilderness, the release of my ninth book, this time a memoir; The Iron Scar: A Father and Son in Siberia.
The official release date from Madville Publishing in Texas is April 22nd, though word on the street is it will be available in March at the Associated Writers Programs conference in Philadelphia. And I’ll be there for that.
It is difficult to promote a book without sounding like one is bragging, but the reviews have been beyond my expectations. From Martin Sheen (actor, author of Along the Way: The Journey of a Father and Son, written with Emilio Estevez) to Tim O’Brien (writer, The Things They Carried and Going After Cacciato) to Sam Pickering and more, it has been a true journey that did not end in Vladivostok.
Mostly, I’m excited and proud of this book because not only was my then-twenty-year-old son (now turning twenty-nine), Michael, along with me for the entire journey, venturing out, exploring the world, but as a professional photographer I used him and his talents for the brilliant Photo Gallery within the book. Talk about proud.
This is about traveling across Europe and Asia by train, of course, but it is also about fathers and sons, about feeling like you’re starting brand new whether you’re in your twenties or your fifties. My father is very present in these pages, and the book is dedicated to him and Michael.
You can order right now and for the next few days by clicking here: inscribed copies directly from me for $20 each, which includes shipping, and when the books arrive on my doorstop I will sign them and send them right off to you (or wherever you’d like them to go); or you can order directly through the publisher at Madville Publishing once the site is ready to accept pre-orders.
I’ve made many trips to Russia–nearly thirty–but that trip, that summer, meeting new friends, playing chess, sharing meals and drinks, walking the streets of Irkutsk and Yekaterinburg, of Vladivostok and St Petersburg, walking the hills near Chersky Rock high above Lake Baikal, nearly getting completely stranded on the edge of Siberia, inching over a once-in-a-100 year flood in tiger-saturated taiga region of eastern Siberia, living for several days in a cramped cabin with a large, mostly drunk, boisterous Russia, playing chess against a gang of four chessmen, negotiating for food on platforms, talking about movies, about music, about the rain all those countless times just the two of us stood between train cars, and on and on
I hope you take this ride with us. It is an exciting place to be. If you wish to support the arts, writers, photographers, all in one shot, head up to that link above and order some copies for you and your friends.
Here are some reviews:
From National Book Award Winner, Tim O’Brien:
I just finished again– it’s wonderful. I wish every book and manuscript I’ve read over the past two months had been as moving, gripping, and/or loaded with fascinating information about a huge swath of our planet. Your relationship with Michael leads the way, of course, and binds the journey into an emotional and thematic whole that transcends the standard “look what I saw” travel book. The chess, the harp, the photography, and the desire to take a 7-time-zone journey with his dad — wow, what a son to have. And bravo to you for risking it, especially the whole language problem, which would’ve stopped me in my tracks, pun intended. So many things stick with me. The czar and Alexi and their fate. I’ve read a book — read it twice — about the ending days, execution, disposal, and eventual recovery of the Romanovs, or what little was left of them, so I didn’t go into it blind with your book, but I felt the father-son, sharing-death connection much more powerfully. Boris (Alexander Ivanovich, that is) was a memorable character portrait in all kinds of ways, and your descriptions (along with the photo of him) certainly match my memories of the cartoon character! Moscow time. What a nightmare. What a miraculous ending to the nightmare. The royal blue station shacks, the birches with no tops, the meat and potato pastries — if pastry is the correct word — the smell of onions, the vodka, the wheel tapping, the once-in-hundred-year flooding, the vast vacancies of human presence, the moving village of the train, the Leningrad hero, the Leningrad ghosts, the ungraspable Leningrad numbers . . . Just so much. Well done, Bob. My congratulations. And thank you for a pleasurable few hours.
From Actor and Author, Martin Sheen:
The Iron Scar brought me on a journey that unexpectedly and artfully had me thinking about my own father and my sons throughout the book, as well as introducing me to the wild, warm, and colorful world of Siberia. Thank you for bringing me onboard with you and your son.