Maison Cristina: a novel

A man of words. A deeply wounded woman.
Will the story they tell together end in tragedy or redemption?

As some of you may know, for the past few years I’ve been publishing the novels and story collections of my writing mentor, Eugene K. Garber. Today, October 30, 2021, Gene’s long-awaited seventh book, Maison Cristina, is live.

To find out more about Gene’s work, visit his website at or his Amazon book page. For a more personal glimpse into the author and his creative process, see his recent interview on the New York State Writer’s Institute website, A conversation with novelist Eugene K. Garber

Rarely — perhaps never — have I read a novel with the emotional depth, psychospiritual complexity, and whimsical humor of Maison Cristina. Its protagonist, Peter Naughton, will long be with me, as will the co-transformative relationship Gene has created between Naughton and Charlene, a fellow patient in the Maison Cristina asylum he attempts to restore to life from a catatonic state using only his words.

I’m honored to publish it.

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s how some of his reviewers have experienced this compelling, groundbreaking, and profound work of fiction:

“Is there a special providence in the gift of gab? Can a teller of tales lift the scrim of trauma, restore to the self something akin to soul? In Garber’s holy cuckoo’s nest, an aging seafarer of formidable wit, bedeviled by his own noisome demon, agrees to treat with words alone a fellow inmate whose mute convalescence shrouds a mind unmoored. But if this reckoning with potentially divine materials is to be a talking cure, the healer must himself be healed. Thus the intellectual and spiritual stakes at the heart of this masterfully written and immensely entertaining novel.”
Joe Amato, Author of Samuel Taylor’s Last Night 

“In Maison Cristina Eugene Garber has created a fictional world that travels nimbly from Joycean word play (in Naughton’s memories of his parents and aunt and of his work in a New Orleans print shop, and most outrageously and hilariously, in the running commentary of Ms. Trask) to a place of deep emotional engagement with Naughton and Charlene, the wounded characters at the novel’s center. As a reader I was amused and delighted by certain characters and situations, but then, in the blink of an eye, powerfully moved—particularly by Charlene’s profound suffering, by Naughton’s sadness and decline, and by all the caretakers at Maison Cristina, along with all their charges. This is a novel that is rich with humor and verbal play but also dead serious about the realities of psychosexual trauma, and of aging and decline. It sneaks up on you in that way, as all good fiction does.”
Joyce Hinnefeld, Author of Tell Me Everything and The Beauty of Their Youth

“Weeks after finishing Maison Cristina, I’m still haunted by its scenes and transformations. Eugene Garber out-Freuds Freud by demonstrating that stories heal, but in this novel, the healer is the one who tells tales in a stream of consciousness. The wit, vividness, and precision of the writing kept me reading, while the stories kept me in suspense. Garber asks: What is real? How much imagination is too much? And how can an insistence on privacy serve to kill love?”
S.L. Wisenberg, Author of The Adventures of Cancer Bitch and Editor of Another Chicago Magazine

“Garber’s Maison Cristina contains many elements of classic Gothic stories and novels written by Hawthorne, Irving, and Bradbury including an interesting anti-hero, a twisting, supernatural plot, and a dark setting. I would like to add that like his predecessors, Garber also possesses the genius of a great storyteller.”
Francis X. Fitzgerald, Heavy Feathers

In previous novels by Garber, you enjoy at least one character who is a Paganini of language. In Maison Cristina, Peter Naughton, an octogenarian with a dark past, is our virtuoso. He sees horrific visions on the walls, for which he has been committed to Maison Cristina, a psychiatric institution run by nuns. Another patient, Charlene, is unable to speak or to close her eyes. It is toward her healing that Naughton will deploy his gift of tongues. The nuns who run the psychiatric institution provide an aura of sacredness, especially Sister Claire, who, in her sessions with Naughton, offers pearls of thought-provoking spirituality like the following: “There’s the silent waiting for the voice of God. And there’s the silence of abnegation.” Reading this book is a wonderful adventure of the spirit going back and forth among the living and the dead.

Ricardo Nirenberg, Author of Wave Mechanics, a Love Story and Editor of OffCourse

Open the door into winding passageways of wit, mystery, illusion, and startling revelation. Click here, or the thumbnail below, to get your copy now.

Copyright 2021, David J. Bookbinder 

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