Persona Press • San Francisco
fiction $ 14.95

a quietly passionate story. Not flashy, but the story moves along with dispatch.
 
--Richard Labonte,
Books To Watch Out For
The City spans nearly fifty years in the lives of Theo Demetrios, his sister ArtD, their parents, lovers and friends from beat era San Francisco to the twenty-first century.

1

Wyndham Ralston was both handsome and urbane. The elegant Pacific Heights apartment he shared with Heinrik Erdman was filled with fine furniture and artwork. The two men frequently entertained dinner guests that included many of the young and creative people they met at the Grand Tarot in North Beach.

Wyndham was well known in poetry circles as the author of Early Portraits, one of the most successful publications in the Yale Younger Poets series. Each of the thirteen poems included in this slim debut volume presented a beautifully precise description of the person who inspired it. In some cases presenting shockingly private details from the past. In others uncanny predictions of an individual’s destiny
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Wyndham’s wife left him shortly before its publication, and one of the men included in the book committed suicide after reading what was written about him. Those two events precipitated Ralston’s sudden departure from New Haven and resettlement on the West Coast.

He became a distinguished professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford, and though he periodically circulated new poems among friends he refused to publish any more poetry during his lifetime.

He sat each night at his customary table in the bar with a glass of brandy in front of him, sometimes lost in thought, at other times passionately engaged in conversation or dispensing advice to anyone willing to listen. Certainly in that respect he was no different from the many patrons who regularly frequented the GT.

From time to time, however, he would suddenly fix his sight on one of the men or women in the bar and utter a brief but perceptive judgment. I was fascinated by his pronouncements but also afraid he would tell me something about my own future I did not want to know.

Collected Portraits, published posthumously, includes poems about Heinrik Erdman, Christopher Randolph, Beatrice Ashford, Conrad Runningdear and Sebastian Brown. I was both disappointed and relieved not to find anything with my own name on it included in Wyndham’s final work.

copyright © 2007 by N. A. Diaman