There is No End to This Slope by Richard Fulco

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“Richard Fulco’s THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE is a brave novel. Fulco’s first-person protagonist, John Lenza, born Gianni, is an exposed nerve, a raw reminder of the fears, frustrations, and neuroses from which we all suffer at times when confronting our deepest truths.  Truths, it must be said, that Fulco accesses with brutal honesty. With a deft touch, he explores themes of love, loss, self-recrimination, high theatre, rock & roll, mental exhaustion, and finally, personal détente. Any writer willing to avail his characters to such scrutiny, for all their strengths and weaknesses, is deserving of praise.”
—Peter Melman, author of Landsman

“Groucho Marx is famous for saying he wouldn’t belong to a club that would have him for a member. John Lenza, the hero of Fulco’s exhilarating novel, ups the ante and wouldn’t belong to any club no matter who they accept. With dialogue as crisp as a caramel apple, imagery of an-ever evolving Brooklyn, and terrific references to theatre, literature, and rock ‘n’ roll, THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE craftily whips together elements of romantic comedy with the parts of life that aren’t so easily fixed. THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE goes to show that not all endings bring a new beginning.”
—Richard Melo, author of Happy Talk and Jokerman 8


He writes letters to a dead girl—John Lenza, an aspiring writer from Brooklyn, New York, hasn’t written a novel, a play, or any other potentially publishable project.  His obsession with his part in the death of his best friend Stephanie in high school, is a metaphorical brick wall—blocking him from a fulfilling life.  Lenza’s struggles to reconcile his guilt from the past and to enjoy the present sets the tone for Brooklyn native and playwright Richard Fulco’s emotionally charged debut THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE (Wampus Multimedia; March 18, 2014; $XX).

By day, John Lenza sells textbooks to New York City schools.  Like a 21st century Willy Loman, Lenza drifts, letting things happen to him rather than figuring out what he really wants from his work-life and his relationships.  At Cobble Hill High School he meets his future wife Emma Rue, an impulsive alcoholic.  At a “writerly” coffee shop near his new digs in Park Slope he meets Teeny, an overweight gay man, who mines Lenza’s life for his own material.  Richard, a homeless man becomes a voice of reason and a roommate, while Pete the landlord worries mostly about whether Lenza is truly taking special care of those beautiful wood floors in the apartment and, when Lenza loses his job, if the rent will be paid.

At one point in THERE IS NO END TO THIS SLOPE John Lenza describes himself as intelligent, perhaps too intelligent to do anything.  For him and many of the characters in Fulco’s novel it is hard to find a way to navigate the day-to-day while nurturing a sensitive and creative spirit.  Does John Lenza deserve to be tortured by something that happened so many years ago?  Or is the event really a safety net that he allows to prevent him from finding out what his true creative potential might be?

Through deeply wrought characters and scenes that mirror the angst everyone faces as life happens and years pass, Fulco touches on a fundamental issue that drives great artists to self-destruct.  Ironically when Lenza has wrung all he can out of his pained self, it may be the mundane day-to-day that ultimately saves him.

Richard Fulco received an MFA in Playwriting from Brooklyn College. His plays have either been presented or developed at The New York International Fringe Festival, The Playwrights’ Center, The Flea, Here Arts Center, Chicago Dramatists and the Dramatists Guild. His stories and reviews have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Failbetter, Front Porch, Bound Off, The Rusty Toque, Full of Crow, Nth Position, and the Daily Vault. He is the founder of the online music magazine Riffraf. There Is No End to This Slope is his first novel.

Book Expo: How to make deja-vu new again

I have been attending Book Expo America for a long time, never in the capacity of a show-goer, but always as someone representing a publisher—big or small.  When I started out working in book publishing, we went all out with parties, huge booths, and galley giveaways in the thousands.  It was crazy.

Different publishers had different rules for the staff on the floor too, like no sitting down and to look excited and friendly.  Don’t let any important booksellers or media get by without a handshake, a pitch, and a smile.  Don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts and if pressed, refer potential authors to the editor on duty (who might duck out at that opportune moment).

For the most part, the show has had its fair share of ups and downs, but there are some things that really stood out for me this year and made the experience somewhat new again:


1. The number one thing that made an impact for me this year is that I took someone from my office to the show who had never been there before.  Not only was she excited right up until the day of the show, but she doggedly went to stand in line for Lemony Snicket, Jim Carrey, Ann Romney, R.L. Stine, Snooki from “Jersey Shore,” and Chelsea Handler. She grabbed the swag, like free totes and after the first hour proudly sported an assortment over her arm.  Starstruck and thrilled are the two best words to describe how she seemed to experience the event.  An avid reader and book person, for her this was like heaven on earth.  How fun for me to see the show through her eyes!

2. Saudi Arabia, China, Mexico and other foreign entities have taken over where other domestic publishers have taken to cost-cutting and smaller booths.  Those banners were impressive, even though I did a double take, expecting to see the words Simon and Schuster across the sky.

3. Prospective authors are very different than they used to be. With the business of self-publishing booming, there are less people meekly approaching the booths.  There is definitely a stronger sense of esteem and affirmation—and “I have as much right to be here as anyone else” vibe, which is as it should be.

BEA4. Fewer familiar faces of booksellers and of course, a dearth of book editors.  There are a couple of things happening here.  One is I’m getting older and new people are replacing the old, and two the traditional world of book reviewing and “book media” is still downwardly adjusting for the digital market.  It is as hard as ever to get reviewed in print, but online opportunities continue to grow.

Things are always changing and for me this year the key was definitely to go into the show with an attitude of interest and anticipation.  It is fun to see old friends and co-workers and it is still exciting to be in the midst of an industry that in the face of all the challenges still boasts an underlying passion for its product.

Thank you to the Book Expo team.  See you next year!