Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pub Talk: Peter Charles Melman

Novelist Peter Charles Melman at Fanellli Cafe

This conversation really was in a pub. Two weeks ago, I met Peter Charles Melman, author of LANDSMAN, for drinks at Fanelli's, my old watering hole on Prince Street in Soho.

LANDSMAN chronicles the exploits of a young Jewish street punk in 1860s New Orleans, who winds up fighting for the Confederacy. After Pete's reading and talk at the Tattered Cover last month, during which he proved himself an impressive Cajun speaker, I invited him to be on my "Nice Jewish Boys Gone Wild" panel at next year's VaBook Festival. (I'm looking for one or two more authors to fill out the panel, so if you know any prospects, send 'em my way.)

I have no revelations on publishing to share from this meeting. We just talked about this and that: my misspent youth (a good chunk of which was passed at Fanelli's); Pete's impending fatherhood (his wife is due this Sunday); Jews in Louisiana (a branch of the Standers settled in Opelousas); where Pete got the inspiration for LANDSMAN (from a comment by Tony Horwitz in his CONFEDERATES IN THE ATTIC; yup it's a small world).

In short: We had a swell time. And Fanelli's is still a great place to while away a weekday cocktail hour. Or two.


Anonymous said...

Bought "Landsman" at a book fair so paid next to nothing for it; thinking of my father and his limitless landsmen + quick persual of the jacket notes + well-designed cover snapped it up. I am of the conviction that almost all modern fiction lacks distinctive literary style. Reading the opening pages of "Landsman" I was immediately struck by Melman's style which I find very refreshing. I'm eager to get into this book.

Anonymous said...

I have a PhD in American History with a speciality in the Civil War era. I was not expecting much from this book, because so many novelists don't both with historical accuracy. Melman suprised me by accuately decribing New orleans, the battles, and the people his young Jewish soldier experiences. My only disappointment appears on p.299-300when he has Arceneaux remove bullets from a 44 caliber revolver. This wasn't possible. The Colt 44 was a "cap and ball" pistol, not a cartridge weapon.