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It was only meant to be a few hours of fun.
A lark. On a sunny Saturday morning Lola, Kyle and Maria set sail on Puget Sound to look for a vision that had come to Maria in a dream. Then disaster struck, and the three of them were plunged into a dark adventure in which they would confront good and evil, past lives, and a timeless curse born from a tragic love. What are the hidden secrets of Bridge House and Riesgado Island? Part Gothic romance, part supernatural mystery and part fantastical adventure, The Curse of Septimus Bridge is Scott R. Larson’s homage to the horror and adventure stories of his youth, notably the 1960s television series Dark Shadows. In this new book, the author of The Three Towers of Afranor takes us on an adventure that ranges from 17th-century Ireland to the Pacific Northwest of today. At the heart of it all is the mysterious figure who lives out his endless, solitary days, having been rejected by both heaven and hell.

“This is a sequel to Larson’s earlier novel, ‘Maximilian and Carlotta are Dead’, which was set mostly in Mexico as a buddy adventure and introduced the character of Dallas Green, a young man with wanderlust from a small town in the San Joaquin Valley. ‘Lautaro’s Spear’ takes us on further romantic and political adventures to France, Germany, and Chile, and deeper into Dallas’ psyche which we find to be darker and more complex than in the first novel. An engrossing read by a first class storyteller, it leaves you wanting more.”

“Totally enjoyed the characters lost souls that they are. Life is not always what we would like.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


A legendary reclusive filmmaker. An enigmatic cook and restaurant proprietor, who is clearly more than he seems. Two mysterious deliveries to be made behind the Iron Curtain. A desperate search for a long-missing old friend. An unexpected love affair on the coast of Normandy. Dallas Green’s life has only gotten more interesting since his wild youthful adventures recounted in Maximilian and Carlotta Are Dead.
“I loved this book. It is a rollicking fantasy—youth must pass increasingly difficult tests to attain wisdom and perhaps, just perhaps, win the girl! A pure joy to read. And such a great metaphor for life!”

“It was a great read for young adults as well as adults. Can’t wait for the sequel.”

“A fantasy novel with magic and heart. It’s a quick read that is set up for a sequel. A great story about growing up and learning what you are capable of and it’s clean so it can be recommended to all ages!”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com

What secrets do the three towers hold? For years travelers have avoided the mysterious kingdom of Afranor, but necessity now requires three brothers—the valiant fighting princes of Alinvayl—to pass through Afranor’s dark, forbidding expanse. Not all will survive the journey, but one may succeed in finding his destiny.

“I loved this book! Once I started I couldn’t put it down… What an adventurous way to come-of-age in a place in time that no longer exists. Truly a great read!”

“Larson really captures the sense of a particular time and place. His details of clothes, music, cars, speech, etc. all ring true. Also, the first-person narrator’s voice is pitch-perfect…”

“Scott Larson does a magnificent job of taking his readers on a southern trip with the three young heroes.”

“What a wild and crazy adventure! … The characters were all very well developed; I especially loved Antonio, the star and the hero. Looking forward to the sequel.”


Excerpts from Readers’ Reviews on Amazon.com


It is Summer 1971. With the Vietnam War raging and the draft looming, 18-year-old Dallas and Lonnie look for an escape. Fleeing their hot and dusty farming town in Lonnie’s ’65 Chevy, they head to Mexico. In one last misguided adventure, two lifelong friends blaze a trail to Tijuana and beyond, just to see how much trouble they can get it into.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Bard of Santiago de Chuco

First, a writing update. I am pleased to report I am nearly at the end of Chapter 23 in my first draft of the sequel to Lautaro’s Spear. I still do not have a title, but I have a pretty clear idea of the ending, so at least that’s something. The latest adventures of Dallas Green, my own personal Candide, are taking him to three continents where he meets new characters and runs into, sometimes unexpectedly, familiar ones. And he still keeps getting himself into trouble, with the stakes increasingly high.

I am about to plunge back into the writing after a break brought about by the opportunity to attend some events of historical significance in Dublin. The good news, if you can call it that, is that I will probably get more writing time than I had expected this week since St. Patrick’s Day has effectively been canceled. Quite apart from the tragic toll Covid‑19 is taking on so many people around the world, being told by the government and health experts to stay at home and avoid people is actually music to the ears of a writer.

In case you are wondering, I do have other literary projects going on besides my slowly growing list of novels and the blogs. For some time I have been translating poetry from Spanish to English. This has been at the behest of my longtime dear friend Manuel Moreno Salvador. He and I met by chance forty-two years ago in Lima when I happened to spend a few hours in his family’s home. He and I hit it off, and the two of us have been corresponding regularly—sometimes at length—ever since, as well as meeting up in person a couple of times in Lima and in Paris, where he has lived for many years. He is an incredibly multi-talented artist, whose accomplishments include ballet dancing, acting, directing, music, illustration, and fashion design. He and his brother Ántero are founders of the Paris-based Franco-Peruvian cultural association Capulí.

In addition to all of the above, Manuel is a poet. His verses are strange, surreal, hallucinatory, passionate, and I have to say, often highly erotic. He sometimes sends them to me to translate into English so that they can be published in journals in the two languages. Such work is a challenge. Poetry is notoriously difficult to translate because you not only have to convey the literal meaning of the words but you also have to be mindful of things like the mood, the rhythm, and additional layers of meanings. Nuance is critical if you are going to be as faithful as possible to the poet’s vision and intent. It’s not something I would ever have thought myself capable of, and maybe I’m not—in a general sense. When it comes to working with Manuel, though, it somehow does work. It is as if there is a telepathic link between us—aided of course by constant consultations with multiple dictionaries—so that I feel confident I am getting the intended meaning of his words.

Vallejo in Berlin in 1929
Lately Manuel has been on to me to write something about the Peruvian poet César Vallejo. While I studied Vallejo at university many years ago, I am by no means an expert on him. Still his work resides in my mind sufficiently that I recognize the profound influence he has on my friend’s poetry.

Vallejo was born in 1892 in a remote Andean village. He wrote his first (of only three in his lifetime) book of poetry Los heraldos negros in his mid-20s in Lima where he was a university student and then a teacher. In 1920 he returned to his birthplace where he became involved in a political insurrection, which resulted in him being jailed for three months. He later moved to Paris where he managed to have a rather interesting romantic life even while enduring dire poverty during his early years there. He also spent time in Spain and the Soviet Union. In Madrid he wrote his only novel, El tungsteno. In 1934 he married the French writer and poet Georgette Philippart, who was sixteen years his junior. As a journliast, he was a frequent contributor to Latin American pubications, and he wrote theatrical works, which were performed only after his death. In his forties he produced his final two books of poetry, Poemas humanos and España, aparta de mí este cáliz, which were published posthumously. He died in 1938 at the age of 46 from a recurrence of malaria, a disease he had had as a child. Consumed with the tragedy of the Spanish Civil War, his last words were, “I am going to Spain! I want to go to Spain!” Since 1970 his remains have rested in the cemetery in Montparnasse.

Let us now take time to wish César Abraham Vallejo Mendoza ¡Feliz cumpleaños! Today he would have been 128 years old.

It is hard to believe that it is only a few years shy of the half-century mark since I first read Vallejo’s poetry. Yet the first verse of his best known poem “Los heraldos negros” is etched in my memory forever:

Hay golpes en la vida, tan fuertes… ¡Yo no sé!
Golpes como del odio de Dios; como si ante ellos,
la resaca de todo lo sufrido
se empozara en el alma… ¡Yo no sé!


A straightforward English translation of “The Black Heralds” does not feel as if it does the Castilian words justice:

There are blows in life, so powerful… I don’t know!
Blows as from God’s hatred; as if before them,
the backlash of everything suffered
were to dam up in the soul… I don’t know!


The anguish and desperation certainly come through in the English words, yet the effect is not precisely the same. When I read the Spanish words, I hear them in the voice of my old Spanish literature professor and with the raw emotion of his voice. In English, there is quite a different feel. I hear them in my own voice and without the full power of the Spanish version. Therein lies the dilemma of the translator. You are creating an echo of a work, and while hearing an echo is better than not hearing the work at all, it does not really compare to the original. Hence the old Italian saying, Traduttore, traditore (Translator, betrayer).

You could argue that a translation is actually a work of art in its own right, albeit a derivative one. That is what Manuel implies when he tells me, “You too are a poet.” Personally, I’m doubtful.

Perhaps that is also what was reflected in a response he got upon submitting one of his more florid pieces, along with my translation, to a journal in Chicago. The reply—I am still not certain whether it was an acceptance or a rejection—was as follows: “This poem is pornographic, and your translator is even more pornographic than you are!”