BETWEEN TWO RIVERS
"Geography is destiny in Nicholas Rinaldi's sprawling, elegant study... [The] characters' histories collide with real world events and with one another."
—NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW, Adam Mazmanian
"Hypnotic. Mesmerizing. Audacious. A novel of eerie dimension. A wondrously restrained group portrait of a downtown Manhattan condominium's residents and workers [whose] paths intersect and diverge, mirroring a city where innumerable private worlds collide, then float on."
—ELLE MAGAZINE, Marcelle Clements
"BETWEEN TWO RIVERS is a masterpiece...a book that will take your breath away."
—RICHARD RUSSO, Pulitzer Prize Author of EMPIRE FALLS
"This is one of those novels that seizes you from the outset, conjuring a diverse and vivid world as various as the bizarrely wonderful characters who pass through the lobby of Echo Terrace. Nicholas Rinaldi is a gifted writer—immensely articulate, lyrical, wise."
—JAY PARINI, author of THE APPRENTICE LOVER
Between Two Rivers
Reviews and Praise for BETWEEN TWO RIVERS
"Nicholas Rinaldi's wonderful new novel is brave, clear, strong, loving, smart, and true. It illustrates the deeply personal cost of our actions and desires, and also offers a powerful force for healing.”
—RICHARD BAUSCH, author of HELLO TO THE CANNIBALS
"Nicholas Rinaldi is a master storyteller, poignant, wry, insightful, and elegiac. In Between Two Rivers he is at his very best, gracefully weaving together the extraordinary matrix of human lives that make up New York."
—KEVIN BAKER, author of PARADISE ALLEY
"Superb...what counts is the warmhearted celebration of New Yorkers and their relentless curiosity."
—KIRKUS (Starred Review)
"A beautiful, emotionally uplifting tribute to the human spirit...Rinaldi summons no less than the pageant of the human tragicomedy."
—BOOKLIST (Starred Review)
“Rinaldi’s novel captures life at Echo Terrace unfolding and flowering, changing and reshaping itself one apartment at a time.... The mesh of events and personalities is beautifully crafted....” (Highly Recommended)
—LIBRARY JOURNAL, Joanna Burkhardt
"Geography is destiny in Nicholas Rinaldi's sprawling, elegant study of the residents of an upscale apartment building in lower Manhattan. ''Between Two Rivers'' opens not long before the bomb attack on the twin towers in 1993, and it concludes on Sept. 11, 2001. We witness the lives of, among other eccentric characters, Farro Fescue, the building's busy and observant concierge; a plastic surgeon; a World War II German flying ace; a maid; various businessmen; a quilter; and a widow who shares her apartment with a menagerie of creepy-crawlies and an all-consuming secret. These characters' histories collide with real-world events and with one another. Though the timeline of ''Between Two Rivers'' steers inevitably toward the horrors of 9/11, there is nothing overdetermined or reductive about the stories themselves. Rinaldi, whose previous novels include ''The Jukebox Queen of Malta,'' indulges his characters in their untidy lives, and readers who do the same will find their patience rewarded."
—NEW YORK TIMES SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW, Adam Mazmanian
"In a city with eight million stories, this is one worth picking up."
—THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Jeffrey Trachtenberg
"...memorable...richly textured...paints a complex, compelling portrait of the ways we flirt with the American Dream."
—PEOPLE MAGAZINE, Margaux Wexberg
"A rich, ambitious book. Rinaldi conjures a cosmopolitan New York that is violent and tender, alive to the subtle bonds that develop between people."
"Rinaldi celebrates the romance of life's ephemera...presents lovely and slightly impossible variations on physical laws, and sometimes emotional ones as well. In the end, for all its terror, Between Two Rivers reveals itself to be a very gentle— and quite deserved—polemic against the monstrousness of man.
—WASHINGTON POST, Choire Sicha
"... vivid, elegiac...wryly humorous and periodically heart-rending. Between Two Rivers is a fascinating dissection of disparate lives whose common threads are the building that forms the community in which they live and the man who is that building's human face.
—BOSTON GLOBE, Karen Campbell
“. . . a novel of substance . . . an epic shaped by beguiling lives convincingly brought to bear on one another. . . . Rinaldi turns lyrical or blunt as circumstances demand, while remaining Zola-like in his grandness of purpose.
—PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, Carlin Romano
“Rinaldi’s novel is ultimately a hopeful book about living a moral life. “Time is a gift,” Theo thinks at the end of September 11, ‘and the test, the need, is to be worthy of the gift. But How? What do you do to make yourself worthy?’
Rinaldi seems to be posing another question as well: How do you make yourself worthy before the end point, whether it be a natural or catastrophic death? It is an end-of-millenium question, and one to which the characters’ struggles give moral heft.”
—THE SEATTLE TIMES, Wingate Packard
“With rich characterization and realistic settings, Between Two Rivers offers one of the very best literary portraits of modern Manhattan....As the author of three published poetry collections, Rinaldi also has a lyrical gift with language....his prose allows him to become the painter of words to suggest light, color, and smell with a few well-chosen adjectives and well-placed facts.”
—POPMATTERS BOOK REVIEW, Garrett Chaffin-Quiray
"Rinaldi is an astute student of human nature, a generous and compassionate writer. He makes us care about these people, the way we car about our neighboours, even the ones we can’t stand.... Between Two Rivers may well be the first novel to deal with the recent terrorist attack on Manhattan. Echo Terrace stands just a few blocks from the World Trade Center, and its characters are drawn inexorably into that black hole of terror....The effect is stunning."
—MONTREAL GAZETTE, Merilyn Simonds
“It’s an understatement to say that the residents of Echo Terrace are exotic. They are as rich and diverse as the borough situated between the Hudson and East rivers. Rinaldi shines as a storyteller.”
—THE SUNDAY OKLAHOMAN, J. E. McReynolds
“Nicholas Rinaldi gets it right.... this book offers even more than fine writing and a well-constructed, intriguing tale. It’s a whole experience.”
—BOOK PAGE, Linda Stankard
“Rinaldi is a master of elegant prose and psychological insight. Rivers gradually hypnotizes and charms, coaxing beauty from the tragic and surreal.”
—ENTERTAINMENT, Emily Mead
"Like all great artists, Rinaldi makes sense of the senselessness of the world at the same time that he creates an artful object like a quilt."
From New York Magazine
“Some writers always groove to personal experience,” says Nicholas Rinaldi. “But I always work with invented characters, people I don’t know. That’s what drives the engine of creating—to find out who these people are.” Certainly that was the case with Rinaldi’s surrealistic debut Bridge Fall Down, about Vietnam (where he never served), and his thick slice of World War II, The Jukebox Queen of Malta, of which Joseph Heller himself was a fan (and which may soon become a movie scripted by Richard Russo). But you’d expect that Between Two Rivers (HarperCollins), which takes the denizens of a downtown condo tower through September 11, would hit a little closer to home. The Brooklyn-born Rinaldi—who lives and teaches in Fairfield County, Connecticut—does have a son who works in Manhattan, but the book’s most torturous, surreal episodes came out of the newspapers. “There I was, learning everything I could about the movements of elevators, and meanwhile I’m writing about people whose flesh is dripping off their fingertips. It was very painful to be immersed in all those personal accounts.” Rinaldi had already sketched out most of the eccentrics populating Echo Terrace before the towers came down, having long ago decided to locate them in Battery Park City. The impassive Romanian concierge Farro Fescu, plastic surgeon Theo Tattafruge, crazy-quilt artist Maggie Sowle, and Iraqi spice merchant Muhta Saad—the Terrace’s inhabitants, its design, and even its apartments, named after figures like Emily Dickinson and Eleanor Roosevelt, are a good deal more colorful than anything you’ll find in ersatz-urban Battery Park City. But “I think it’s largely symbolic value,” Rinaldi says. “I have an extremely diverse cast of characters. It just seemed right to put them into the center of American symbolism. The Statue of Liberty, the comings and going of the port, and so on. They are all major American symbols.”
From Publishers Weekly
Intertwining stories by the author of The Jukebox Queen of Malta offer subtle portraits of the residents of Echo Terrace, a fictitious Battery Park building in which the condominiums are named after the likes of Mae West, Susan B. Anthony and Grandma Moses. At the book's center is the inimitable Romanian concierge, Farro Fescu, who watches with keen eyes the comings and goings of the intriguing inhabitants, including Karl Vogel, a Lüftwaffe pilot engaged in an affair with a journalist whose grandfather was killed by a Nazi fighter pilot ("She is making peace with the enemy," Karl thinks); Yesenia, a captivating 19-year-old housemaid who is brutally raped on the way home to her Queens apartment; and Theo, a plastic surgeon who falls for a widow whose husband admitted to an affair and shortly thereafter died of a heart attack. Devastated, the woman, Nora, poisons her exotic pets ("Whatever I love, I make it die") and then walks into traffic. With Nora in a coma, her young actress niece, Angela, moves into her apartment and enters into an unlikely affair with a poem-quoting undertaker who is convinced that love can conquer all. Among a few bizarre twists, a young designer falls (or is pushed) from a window, and Theo is drafted by the FBI to perform a sex-change operation on one of Augusto Pinochet's collaborators. These are complex, moving stories without straightforward resolutions-as one character remarks, "Life is heavy, it weighs"--and if they feel a bit overwritten sometimes, Rinaldi compensates for this with multifaceted and memorable characters.
*Starred Review* Through the microcosm of a large cast of international characters residing in a condo building in lower Manhattan during the years 1992-2001, Rinaldi summons no less than the pageant of the human tragicomedy. Each of them, at times, lonely and isolated, harbors an incredibly rich interior life in which the past is fully alive and readily accessible. Karl Vogel, a highly decorated WWII German fighter pilot, recalls his hatred for Hitler, while Farro Fescu, the proud Romanian concierge, still misses his uncles, who may have been killed in one of Vogel's bombing raids; nevertheless, the two men share a cordial relationship. Egyptian-born plastic surgeon Theo Tattafruge, who specializes in transgender operations, obsessively researches Teddy Roosevelt's adventurous life, finding in it an intoxicating mix of decisiveness and optimism that is so lacking in his patients' lives. Artist Maggie Sowle is commissioned by the UN to make a memorial quilt and puts her long-dead, much-loved husband's handprints at the center. In this way, Rinaldi effortlessly intertwines the political and the personal. With lavish and loving detail, he invokes the human experience--weddings and wars, art and commerce, births and funerals. A beautiful, emotionally uplifting tribute to the human spirit.
INTERVIEWS : NEW YORK MAGAZINE (Boris Kachka), PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Sybil Steinberg), THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW (Regis Behe), CONNECTICUT POST, WBAI Radio, WAMC Radio, NPR.
National Public Radio Interview: All Things Considered
New York Reimagined in 'Between Two Rivers'
Independent producer Jon Kalish has this report on the New York City imagined by author Nicholas Rinaldi in his new novel Between Two Rivers. Rinaldi's story revolves around the residents of a fictitious condo building in lower Manhattan.