THE SPIRAL OF WORDS
An intrepid writer undertakes a long walk towards the ocean where he hopes to source the essential and immortal words he yearns for. Along the way, he traverses the streets of Nice, Lisbon, Cádiz and Marrakech where he confronts the shapes and shadows that harbor his inner fears and desires. His reality then collides with the elliptical passage of the mythical man in the striped tunic. The two minds create a spiral of words spawning a narrative that emboldens the writer and unearths the past of the striped tunic. With this novel, the STRIPED TUNIC TRILOGY comes full circle. The two previous novels are AIR and THE ROAR OF THE RIVER. The sense of words and language as primal utterance in this trilogy shows the American mindset refracted into many other peoples in this now world.
Published by Spuyten Duyvil Press
“The Spiral of Words, by Jorge Armenteros, is not just highly compelling as narrative and convincing as exploration of literary form, it is also beautifully written, with sentence after sharp sentence sculpting a whole brimming with surprising meaning and meaningful insight. As I have been with past work by Armenteros, I was taken by this novel’s calm, elegant cadences, but also by its willingness to challenge, unsettle and provoke. As Armenteros writes in one of The Spiral of Words’ many fine passages, “That is the danger; a book may be bolder than yourself and reveal what you refuse to accept.” I strongly encourage you to experience this bold, revelatory work for yourself.” — Laird Hunt, author of Neverhomeand In the House in the Dark of the Woods
“Armenteros’ richly imagistic The Spiral of Words is a writer’s odyssey, is a book with the blood of Borges in its wanderers’ rivers, is a book with worlds of myth and magical realism hovering. It seeks beginnings, invokes the inner-driven walker, ravenous for words, invokes the collective shadow, the collective lost, the collective seeker, the oceans, the wind...all chasing miracles of chance. And a reeking stalker in a striped tunic, a soul of longing and confession ... is existentially near. The unknown pulls the reader like a determined undertow. Spiral of Wordsis a truly brave literary accomplishment.” — Margo Berdeshevsky, author of Beautiful Soon Enoughand Before the Drought
“In the experimental traditions of Cortázar and Borges, Armenteros leads the reader through a multitude of paths that wind both around and into each other, creating for the reader the 'spiral of words' of the title. At the center of the spiral lies the mysterious and omniscient striped tunic, a character whose strange and ethereal presence permeates the very fabric of the novel's existential complexities. Equal parts metafictional mystery and meditation on the artistic process, The Spiral of Words is that rare dream that is as disturbing as it is hypnotic. — Laurie Foos, author of Ex Utero and The Blue Girl
THE ROAR OF THE RIVER
Set in a perched village of the French Alps, between a roaring river and the moonlight, a man dressed in a stripped tunic seeks refuge from his dying past. Instead, he encounters an iconoclastic set of characters that offer him love, instigate fear, explore the meaning of language, and elicit revenge. Following the musical structure of the 17th-century fugue, the narrative voices succeed each other until coming together in a polyphonic search for light among the darkness of their origins.
Published by Spuyten Duyvil Press
“Armenteros compels us to hear our own roar of the river and follow the course. He is one of our most innovative, introspective and brilliant writers.” American Book Review
"Jorge Armenteros's The Roar of the River isn't a tale of suspense so much as it is a book whose pages crackle with myriad frictions. These characters may resemble the phantasmata—simultaneously posing and maneuvered—familiarly associated with the chanson de geste's medieval dreamlands, yet they are anything but benighted victims of fate. Rather, like the personifications that relieve the flatness of the fable's total ethics, these figures struggle against all that is archetypal about them. Is it possible to survive a world bent on othering the most humane aspects of our humanity? Quest or riddle, Armenteros understands that, nowadays, indomitables like these fall (if they fall at all) to those willing to scratch out and scratch away. " — Joe Milazzo, author of Crepuscule W/ Nellie and The Habiliments
"The Roar of the River is a lucid dream, a winding and watery tale of a vengeful river. Teeming with life and aroar with many strange voices, this novel is absolutely relentless. Armenteros is a master who has given his readers something wholly new." —William Walsh, author of Forty-four American Boys, Pathologies, and Unknown Arts
“Beautifully written and crafted, The Roar of the River is a mythic incantation of the relationship between nature and culture. Armenteros evokes the dreamscapes and desires of Marquez, Joyce, and Ballard while asserting his own distinctive voice.” — D. Harlan Wilson, author of Battles without Honor or Humanity and Primordial: An Abstraction
The strange and unexpected behaviors of the four main characters reveal the illusory idea of trying to apprehend one’s identity. Imena, a student of perfumery, arrives in Marrakech in an attempt to free herself from the overbearing intensity of her boyfriend Patricio, a philosophy professor at l’Université Paris-Sorbonne. She takes residence behind the red door of an allegorical hotel whose attendant, the striped tunic, officiates life under an aura of mysticism and danger. René, Patricio’s junior colleague, decides to leave for Guadeloupe in search for his gender identity, a painful and transformative search that delivers him beyond himself. After Imena secludes herself in her hotel room trying to complete her ultimate perfume creation, the four individual lives finally coalesce in the courtyard where four flowering orange trees witness the thaumaturgy.
Published by Spuyten Duyvil Press
"Blending actuality and fantasy, Armenteros creates a philosophical underpinning and psychological probity in a compelling allegorical imperative." American Book Review
"Armenteros charges that air—alternately perfumed and rancid—to deliver a compellingly erratic narrative." Rain Taxi
THE BOOK OF I
The Book of I is the story of Teaston, a painter struggling with schizophrenia, who finds himself at the edge of a cliff, at the edge of his life. The novel explores our fragmented human nature through the distorted lens that Teaston provides. Some characters are undoubtedly real while others become figments of Teaston’s imagination, yet others defy authorial certitude by remaining in a sort of reality twilight. As metaphorical vehicles, the themes and characters in the novel raise questions about the nature of identity. And from under a chorus/amalgam of voices and delusions, Teaston raises to discover what it means to be a person, what makes us human.
The narrative is undoubtedly influenced by the formal spontaneity of Cortazar’s Hopscotch, the shifting levels of reality of Kafka’s The Trial, the iconoclastic characterization of Bolaño’s The Savage Detectives, and the interiority and lyricism of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge.
The Book of I received Honorable Mention in the 2015 ILBA for Best Novel in the popular fiction category.
“In this lyrical and assured debut novel, Jorge Armenteros navigates us through the labyrinthian struggles of the mind of a schizophrenic painter wading through the edges of reality and fantasy. Part existential puzzle and part hypnotic meditation, THE BOOK OF I is as much about the language we have--or yearn to have-- to hold our identities as it is about the search for the core of our innermost selves. This is a haunting debut by a bold new talent." --Laurie Foos, author of Ex Utero and Before Elvis There Was Nothing
"In a French village, painter Teaston has witnessed a woman's fatal jump off a nearby cliff. Growing lost in the 'whiteness' of his schizophrenia, he paints out the faces on his canvases, searching for the 'holes where eyes could fall in.' Dipped in the ink of South American surrealists like Julio Cortazar, Jorge Armenteros' The Book of I slowly and achingly unveils Teaston's tormented inner life. For Teaston, 'the existence of normalcy is a primordial question.' This stark, poetic and haunted novel makes it ours as well." --Susanne Paola Antonetta, author of A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World
"In this powerful novel, Jorge Armenteros takes us deep, deep and deeper still into the mind of a painter who has come to the edge of his cliff. The Book of I's fierce, fresh language buoys us through the many-textured darkness, shoots the whole through with crucial light. Cortazar is an apt analog here. So is Artaud." ---Laird Hunt, author of Neverhome and Kind One, the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award finalist and winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
"How our minds evolve and determine our identities and how these identities can shift over time remains a fascinating topic for the novelist. When a mental illness interferes with the "normal" brain function that we all take for granted, the challenges to the individual and those around him multiply exponentially. His training and experience as a psychiatrist gives Jorge Armenteros a special perspective on the mysteries of the human mind and his character. Teaston reminds us that somewhere between reality and delusion lies the unconquerable world of uncertainty. A terrific achievement for a first novel. --John Kane, MD, is Vice President for Behavioral Health Services of the North Shore - Long Island Jewish Health System and Chairman of Psychiatry at The Zucker Hillside Hospital
"A startling vision of the world from the perspective of a schizophrenic painter, a man balanced on the edge of his self and his life, and on the way to a crisis. This is a finely crafted and clearheaded book, at once sympathetic and unwilling to give any alibis, and well worth the read." --Brian Evenson, author of Immobility, Last Days, and The Open Curtain, is Royce Professor of Teaching Excellence in Brown University's Literary Arts Department.