Craig Nova Nova, Craig (Vol. 7) - Essay

Nova, Craig (Vol. 7)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Nova, Craig 1945–

Nova is an American novelist. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 45-48.)

What distinguishes [Turkey Hash] from others dealing with the impact of uprootedness on behavior is that Nova assumes that the reader will accept this condition of anomie as a simple fact that requires no historical development of the characters to justify. They are what they are simply because that's the way they are. It doesn't really work, and, despite the fine writing, the novel is, in the end, oddly unmoving.

Yet Nova is a fine writer. His style is telegraphic and minimal, yet strangely evocative of landscape. His characters appear both real and surreal as they act out strange rituals and plot insane acts. His handling of pace and dialogue is superb, and the writing in general has the feel of a polished hand. Despite its ultimate coldness, it is a remarkably accomplished first novel and marks the launching of a stylist with the promise of, say, a John Hawkes. One could do a lot worse. (pp. 62-3)

Jerry G. Bowles, "Uprooted in L.A.," in Saturday Review (copyright © 1972 by Saturday Review, Inc.; reprinted with permission), September 23, 1972, pp. 62-3.

If you liked the folks you met in "Last Exit to Brooklyn," you should love the crowd in "Turkey Hash." Subterranean Los Angeles is the scene. Mental defectives, maimed drifters who think with their appetites, geek material, random assassins and their victims—these float in and out of Craig Nova's harsh spotlight. The center of attention is Niles Cabro, an L.A. youth whom the publisher bills as "borderline" psychotic. Tut. Anyone whose idea of fun is to be beaten nearly senseless in an offal orgy is hardly "borderline." (pp. 58-9)

Mr. Nova records the trajectory of Niles in finely-enameled, occasionally-playful prose that delineates the precise outline of every fleck of saliva. The only question is: Why? (p. 59)

Martin Levin, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1972 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), October 29, 1972.

"The Geek"… is an amazing feat, an action novel that is entirely introspective. Set on the Greek island of Samos, "The Geek" deals with elemental relationships: The island is not only the setting but is also the novel's motif: a geography harshly limited, where only people can be driven to excess, since their boundaries are so foreshortened….

The island reduces life, brings the novel's action and characters into sharp focus like the measured reductions of a powerful microscope. It is a Camus landscape, but Nova's own….

"The Geek" resembles Kosinski's "Steps" and recent "Cockpit," in that the protagonist occupies a diseased world where he can only be immune by being entirely disconnected, turned into an amoebic island without linkage to any of the corrupt larger systems around him. Nova, however, lacks the relish for this experience that Kosinski displays. His writing is so clear and precise that there is no distance between description and what is being described. An old woman farmer gestures: "Her hand had spent so much time in the soil it looked more like a root than flesh."…

Nova is one of the finest writers of his generation (post World War II) and, more importantly, one of the few in possession of an entirely unique voice.

William O'Rourke, "Vitality in Abuse," in The Village Voice (reprinted by permission of The Village Voice; copyright © by The Village Voice, Inc., 1975), November 3, 1975, p. 54.

Each action's reaction inexorably increases the offense [in "The Geek"]. There is no point in summarizing this plot; it isn't what happens that makes this book so strong. In fact, I find it difficult to articulate where exactly Craig Nova's genius lies. I know only that it has been a long time—a very long time—since I have come across a novel so gripping, a talent so exciting, so immense and so pure that I am ashamed I have not read him before. This book is so powerful, so alive, it is a wonder that turning its pages doesn't somehow burn one's hands. (p. 19)

C.D.B. Bryan, in The New York Times Book Review (© 1975 by The New York Times Company; reprinted by permission), December 21, 1975.