Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guest Post: Calvin Schwartz author of Vichy Water

Calvin Schwartz, author of the book Vichy Water, stopped by to share with us a piece he wrote just for us!

Thanks, Beth for inviting me here. A few weeks before the invite, I was sitting at my computer, in my favorite position, Rodin's, 'The Thinker,' heralding the arrival of a much anticipated epiphany; I've finally become a writer.

A decade ago on a rainy afternoon, something (one of my favorite multitude words) made me start writing, concocting memories of my family in a novel format. Over the next few months it grew, with little watering, to forty pages and stopped. Right before the epiphany, I found those first pages and realized (like an old Virginia Slims commercial) that I've come a long way.

Eight years ago, on an August Sunday morning, I opened my eyes and screamed, "Oh my God." My supportive wife pillar thought I was having the big one, like Fred Sanford of old. Something had deposited into my over worked synapses, a novel about the oil industry and for me, a Jersey boy, with its Turnpike, Parkway, and eight million neighbors, oil seemed as far away as the sun. Spiritually, I thought it a sign and call to action. So a first real novel about oil was begun and along the way, I became an avid reader of 'Petroleum News.' The work in progress lasted four years and spit out three hundred pages with no end in sight because in my mind and fingers, I wasn't a writer yet.

The road plot thickens. In the midst of the oil story, I was taken into a special world of haunting spirituality. Just this morning, I was researching writing memoirs; my life's journey to realization. Enough said. Five months down time from the oil novel and another rainy morning in New Jersey (perhaps the Garden State is juxtaposing with Seattle for the dampness crown) and I wouldn't play rainy doubles tennis. There's that spiritual something again and it made me watch 'Casablanca' for the forty-fourth time. Moments from movie's end, Claude Rains throws a bottle of 'Vichy Water' into the garbage in front of Humphrey Bogart. In that split second, my novel was born. I ran downstairs and spent two weeks outlining.

My outlining process was filled with notions that in our crazy mixed up world (Bogart said something like this to Ingrid Bergman, involving a hill of beans) there is precious little time to read (or do much else but work) so a novel (in my case, pure fiction) has got to deliver timely, contemporary, relevant issues and maybe get the reader to find a good mirror somewhere, stare, evaluate, smile in comprehension and want to reach out and thank the author for identifying. A tall order? I'm 6'6".

I call myself a writer now. I put together a story that reaches about four billion people. On my website: there's a bunch of bullets which outline the Who's and Why's of readership.

As I mentioned to you, Beth, as synchronicity will have it, you're the first review of my career and no matter what, that counts miles in my life's sentimental journey.
Much thanks.


About the book:

Alex Zari, Egyptian and Elvin Stone meet in 1960 in a vacant lot as Newark high school students and become life long exceptional friends. Exceptional means trust, sharing life and spirituality, pulled from the author's experiences with angelic intervention and clairvoyance. Alex’s haunting visions tell of becoming more than friends.

Elvin attends Rutgers University while Alex studies astronomy and joins a discussion group at Princeton University where he's groomed to slide into a secret organization and government security clearance. Eventually, Alex lands in the Situation Room of the White House with potentially unsettling news for the President.

Life abruptly changes. Clandestine government meetings, murders, and a plane crash follow. Overcome by change and great loss, Elvin searches self in Sedona, Arizona, Guadalcanal, Montana, Key Largo, Vietnam War Memorials, Guadeloupe, and a Chicago African-American cemetery where Emmett Till is buried. Elvin marries twice, changes career to sales, has an affair with the daughter of a European businessman and when morality is confronted, ponders the Virtue of Selfishness. The story twists through the universe, women's perspectives, racism, tech noir movies, environment, a college bar and a Hollywood antique store where a bottle of Vichy Water from 1942 is found.


Muslim, Catholic, Coptic Christian and Jewish:

President Obama gave a speech in Egypt at the beginning of June, 2009 stating how America looks to the Muslim world with understanding and respect, which is exactly how 'Vichy Water' presents its diverse religious characters.

Women's Issues:

Strong, but subtle, cerebral references to women's issues/perspectives. Perhaps a challenge is now issued to discover intent, content and relevancy.


A sensitive view of their world as seen through the eyes of two white teenagers beginning in 1960 Newark, New Jersey.

Baby Boomers:

From pinball to From Here to Eternity to 60's innocent sexual conquests (interpretative), tech-noir movies, a real milk man and a coal bin in the cellar (do boomers go back that far?)


Poignant descriptions of a son and father and repeated kissing of a cranial soft spot.

Rutgers University Students and Alumni:

Campuses are used for many scenes. A main character is an alumnus as is the author.

Princeton University Alumni:

Main characters are alumni.


Powerful continuous references to environmental warnings, global warming, clean water and certain American companies' failures. Author likes shock approach.


Spiritual references, angelic intervention presented from first hand experience.


Provocative issues discussed; perhaps creating a heightened awareness on equal justice initiative, environmental justice and consumerism.

Eye Care Professionals (The Three 0's)

It's not everyday when one of your own writes a novel. The author has sold eyewear as a rep for the past twenty-eight years. Patients and customers might enjoy the read.

Weequahic High School, Maple Avenue School Alumni and Newark, New Jersey:

With such active alumni, need we say more?

Sedona, Arizona:

Thoughts, action and memories take trans-continental journeys to Sedona's vortex and spirit. Might really spur tourism if that's what you asked for.

Tuna Fish Purveyors:

The food is talked about (one recipe alluded to) right up to the last mercury laden tuna catch in perhaps twenty years.

About Calvin:

Vichy Water is his first novel. He graduated from Rutgers University in 1969 with two degrees and practiced Pharmacy before a career in sales and currently imports eyewear from China. Calvin is a husband and father. Interests include environmental issues, political science, spirituality, extending life and Rutgers sports. He auditioned for The Apprentice, went to the casting call for War of the Worlds and did his first keg stand in June 2008.


Book Bird Dog said...

I have an award for you over at my blog. Click on Award

Sassy Brit said...

Sounds like a very interesting and powerful read!

Congratulations Calvin! Great piece, Beth.

(Found you at Harvee's site!)


Sheila Deeth said...

Thanks. A great introduction. It sounds a great read. (Came here from Book Bird Dog)

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