Black Van Press

My Books

The Lighthouse at Point Sur

This is a revised version of The Lighthouse at Point Sur, a novel about two friends in their sixties who decide to take a road trip from Los Angeles to Monterey, CA with a stop at Big Sur on the way. Ray Valenzuela wants to get out of L.A. because he thinks gang members are after him. Patrick Donahy, in whose van they will make the trip, has a more personal, but just as compelling reason for making the trip. He has recently received a posthumous letter from the woman who was his first lover, when he was an aspiring art student more than forty years earlier. She asks him to return to Big Sur, to a spot they visited together, and re-create a landscape painting that he painted for her many years ago. Both Ray and Pat seek to reconcile themselves with their pasts and at the same time face their futures.

Hurricane Park

Hurricane Park tells the story of a homeless man and his friends who live in a park in central Los Angeles. The novel traces the events that lead him there, how he and his closest friend in the park come to make a friendly wager as to which of them will get off the street first, and what happens to them afterward. Hurricane Park ts a story about giving up hope and then trying to get it back again.


Tower-102 is a tragi-comedy set at a small radio station in the Sierra Nevada foothills of northern California during the mid-1980s. The rest of the country is riding the self-indulgent wave of the prosperous Reagan years, but the air staff, the disc jockeys and newscasters of KTWR-FM, Tower-102, are struggling just to keep body, soul and head together and manage their variously troubled lives. The fate of Robert Bury, a young newscaster at the station, reflects the fates of his friends and co-workers as he, like they, engages in the struggle to move on up...or just to move on.

Losing Philadelphia

The author of Losing Philadelphia describes it as a "triptych"--three separate but related stories of a group of young hopefuls--artistic and otherwise--who are either living in or passing through New York City at different times during the 1980s. Its central character, Richard Finney, is a dazzlingly-gifted but still-struggling pianist who leaves the imprint of both his music and his self on those who befriend, annoy, or just hang around him. "Finney's circle," as you'll see, is quite a cast of characters indeed.

The Nightingale

Set in the mid-1990s, The Nightingale tells the story of Tony Braden, a man with a rare talent for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Assigned as an information management worker at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, Braden hires a Russian-language tutor, Nadya Kovalova, only to find himself falling in love with her. But it's early times in post-Soviet Russia, and the embassy has not yet changed its policy against employees fraternizing with Russians.Tony is reported and sent back to Washington, where he kicks up a public fuss about the outdated policy, even taking time to write a novel, The Nightingale, "an exercise in anger management" in his words. When the contact policy is changed and the two lovers are free to be together, they make plans to meet for a summer holiday on Spain's Costa Brava. Tony thinks his troubles are over; actually they're just beginning. Part love story, part spy story and part satire on the slow, byzantine ways of bureaucracy, The Nightingale takes a look back at a time when the world was changing so rapidly that people -and governments - were having trouble keeping up.