Books by Paul Quintanilla







Waiting at the Shore, a biography of Luis Quintanilla.

At Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Sussex Academic Press, and British Amazon. For phone numbers check the Press site. Or order it from your neighborhood bookstore.








True Adventures




Paul Quintanilla


A Symphonic Novel

In Five Books






Free E-Book

(In a PDF format)

and the

Lulu Print Edition

in Three Volumes


About this Book

This is my first novel. I began writing it sometime in the early 1980s and finished the first draft on March 16, 1988. That first draft was 1,486 typewritten pages long, with 1 1/2 line spacing. I didn’t know then that publishing professionals prefer manuscripts to be double spaced. Had I double spaced the manuscript would have been close to 2,000 pages long. Assuming that about 400 words appear on each typewritten page that would come to a total of approximately 800,000 words. Quite a big book. Quite a lengthy read. It had better be worth it.

I abandoned going through and revising this manuscript shortly after my mother died, in December of 1988, at which time I began to work on my biography of my father, Waiting at the Shore. That biography kept me busy for several years and when I finished it I went on to other projects, mostly novels, which I have sitting around here in the house. And now, in my mid 70's with plenty of free time, I decided to return to Jamie Budlow, and having finished it to offer it to the world. Free - as an e-book. A paperback edition is available too, but, unfortunately, being a material “hard copy” version, to use the hi tech parlance, the cost of production is required by the press. And these can not be given away for free.

I like the idea of giving away the book. I don’t need the money and offering this novel as an e-book spares me the pains of searching for a publisher. Frankly, I don’t think I would be too successful. Is that a reflection on the quality of my novel? No, I wouldn’t say so. After all, it took me twenty years to find a publisher for Waiting at the Shore, my biography of my father, which, before finally being published, received some raves from several disinterested and distinguished readers. Illustrating once again that whether a book is published or not is no true reflection on its artistic or intellectual worth.

Another advantage of skipping the search for a publisher is that, yes, I won’t have to worry about actually finding one. For if I do then I would have to sign a contract and then the publisher’s editor would take over. Some editors are good, very good, and the nice thing about working with a good editor is that he will find your mistakes and errors and will offer valid suggestions for improving your book. And you, the author, will even get all the credit. But there are also some very bad editors out there who attempt to impose their vision of how things should be onto your manuscript. And the chances of becoming entangled with such an editor are very large. A publisher’s editor may try to make your work more commercial, more appealing and profitable for the publisher, or the editor may simply have his own literary theories on what good writing is. Such an editor can be hell for a writer. And this is actually the larger and greater reason why I have not tried to find a publisher. The thought and fear and possibility of working with a bad editor. I have had some bad experiences myself and, yes, have heard horror stories.

My novel, I’m afraid, will have to stand on its own. It’s either bad or good or even perhaps somewhere in between. And I can’t truly claim to know which. Some people may like it, others may not want to go beyond the first page. There are many tastes out there, and, whether they like this book or not, they all have their own personal validity. Sitting down to read a large novel, an extremely large novel, is an investment of precious time and spirit. All I can promise is that I have tried very hard to make my vision come to life. I hope to share it, and I hope it is a fully achieved work of literary art. That is nothing to be ashamed of, even if in that unshaped realm of the human spirit I have failed.

So if you want it for free it is available as an e-book. If you want to buy copies of it the old fashioned way, in three well-made paperbacks, it is available from the Lulu Press for a modest sum. And if you like it, reading about Jamie Budlow’s odd but very human adventures, pass it on.

But if you don’t enjoy it, then I’m sorry to have wasted your time. Oh, by the way, Jamie Budlow is not me. Why should he be? For, after all, the entire book is actually me, the author. That’s for sure. But none of the characters here are. For why should a writer limit himself only to himself when he has the whole of his experience and knowledge and imagination to draw from? No, this is not autobiography but an attempted work of literary art. A symphonic novel, as I sometimes like to think of it, which hopefully will offer you pleasure in reading. And if not, then the book was free anyway and you can simply delete it from your database, no harm done.

Oh, a warning. Even in this day and age some people are offended by explicit writing. If that will bother you then this book is not for you. My excuse? I desired to descend way beneath the surface of my protagonist’s experiences. To write about what sometimes is not often talked about. To make my hero as full and real and human as possible.






Seven Novels


                       Paul Quintanilla








I Would Be a Genius

The Industrial Park

In the Land of the Dacks

The Port of New Destiny

Faces at the Office


Something Meaningful

(Explanation of your Options)




Brief Lines




I would be a Genius  (1994)

Barry Miles is a recent college flunkout. Nineteen years old, rebellious, a poet striving to start out as an artist, the immediate world around him doesn't appear to support his high minded ambitions. In fact, the greater world seems to actually negate his creative hopes and aspirations

"I saw my magnificent aesthetic monument wilting and fading all about me, dissolving away, losing what little substance it had for not having been cultivated. For that spirit-world I sought had to be exercised and though drink offered me a certain freedom, a certain easy unity with that world, my sober cold productive hours were fully occupied now by my job! And though the world told me over and over and over again that I had to work, had to support myself, bitterly I wondered at the quality of life this demand returned to me if its truest recompense was to rob me of my life? For work did nothing more for me than merely grant the brute necessities of life. And by complying with this fundamental demand I received nothing in return: not life nor adventure nor even any respect much less any form of basic consideration or kindness or rewards at that office."

The question this novel explores is: can daily American economic life, which colors the whole of the American experience, support a creative youth just starting out? Or is there something basically antithetical about the corporate world to creative thought and activity?

Preview ----- Free Download or Purchase paperback


The Industrial Park  (1997)

"Hell is other people," a character in Sartre's No Exit tells us. And for the employees of the Black and White Fire Equipment Company this is mostly true. Written as a series of interior monologues (with a touch of omniscient commentary) The Industrial Park enters into the inner lives of these conflicted and conflicting souls. A tragedy? A comedy? You as the reader would have to decide.

Selected Cut Outs

Preview------Free Download or Purchase paperback



In the Land of the Dacks  (2001)

If travel is "broadening" then John Sawyer's adventures in the Land of the Dacks, an ancient third world country, are quite transformative. And he becomes a new man.

"I was an American, and naturally superior, and that was that. I didn't even question or consider my superiority, but merely took it completely for granted as a given. But I was also an eager newcomer and tourist, devouring all I saw all about me in the manner of tourists. For I would be here only a brief time and would soon be gone, leaving all the native problems of this complicated foreign land behind. Yes, I felt so much taller, so much larger and grander and powerful in every way than these tiny Dacks, these brown skinned little Dacks who seemed somehow pathetically backward and blind and tainted by their awful poverty. What an extraordinary spectacle of life I had walked into! A mere seventy four hours ago I had boarded a large American jet plane in a large American airport, surrounded by its corporate gloss and comforts, and in slightly less than a day had arrived here in this ancient exotic land. And like any worldwide pillager I would thoughtlessly take whatever I desired. Taking it only because I could, and because I wished to have it. Without ever entertaining any deep consideration for the locals."

Though events don't actually quite turn out that way. This is a novel of ideas, introducing us to the ancient world and culture of the Dacks as we follow John Sawyer's adventures in this far off land.

Preview ----- Free Download or Purchase paperback


The Port of New Destiny  (2003)

Life is good. And Michael Howard believes he has been uniquely chosen by fate for there is a singular brightness about the world he uniquely enjoys. And looking about at others on the street many appear sad, unfortunate, weighed down by life.

Twenty two years old, Michael has always chosen well and correctly throughout his life: without making any large mistakes. And an adult now rigidly believes in the wide corporate culture and world he has dedicated his life to. For this larger corporate world offers its stability and seems to epitomize everything America is truly about. It is America, Michael believes. And the only sensible route forward to take in life.

Yes, life is good. All he has to do is continue choosing correctly: a vital instinctive knack he has so far been gifted with. Part anti-war novel, part love story, part coming of age adventure, this novel is yet another exploration of the "American

Preview ----- Free Download or Purchase paperback



Faces at the Office  (2004)

Most novelists consider the daily routine of a menial job in an office to be too dull and uninteresting to merit the treatment of a full length novel. How can such an unchanging dull monotony hold the reader's attention, they may ask? Though the clashes of the titans at the top have been fully explored often enough.

The daily experience, though, of being at work in an office is one of the most common experiences of everyday life. And for that reason merits our attention. What's more, these basic realities should be more openly dealt with. This is a novel about the simple daily experience of being on the job. Of going to work everyday. A drama which is surely large enough on its own. To see a short excerpt.

Preview ------ Free Download or Purchase paperback



Doors  (2006)

"Listen. You have been seeking an answer. The answer. But in all your nocturnal explorations you have not found it."

"Yes, yes. Then you know?"

"And you feel a great negative tug throughout the world. Some mysterious force bringing you and everything in the world down. Though you don't truly know what it is. Or why."

"Yes. Yes. That's true."

"Nor do you know where it will all lead. Only that you are deeply disconcerted and troubled, worse than troubled, even tortured, by this persistent overbearing negative force. And wish some other larger force reigned. A more universal joy in life. A profoundly positive force. That humanity would not be so self-destructive. Or negative. And deep within yourself you believe that most of this waste is simply foolish. Unneeded."

"Yes. Yes. That's all true."

"And unnecessary. You hate this dark negative aspect of life. All this needless waste. And feel a need to explore it. And do, because you have a great desire to understand. A need to know. Isn't that true?"

"Yes. Yes. You've got it. That's it. Who are you?"

Positive and negative, negative and positive, the two competing forces within Carlton Phillips' deepest being. This is a novel about how he is violently rocked by these forces. And finally surmounts them.

Preview ----- Free Download or Purchase paperback



Something Meaningful  (2006)

This novel attempts to examine the nature of innocence and of living fully without it. Dereck Kramer, recently released from prison, is constantly tortured by his past. Much like a hard polished stone, a hard thing which will never go away, his unalterable past forms a permanent memory now which constantly arouses a flood of remorse and regrets. For his criminal act had been the pivotal moment in his life destroying his life. If Dereck Kramer originally started out with an eager, innocent optimism it finally irrevocably changed on that evening long ago when he committed his crime: leaving nothing but a lasting darkness: the flip side of the positive bright optimism he had always known. And haunted by his past, pursued by it, driven on by the unending furies of guilt and shame and disgrace he struggles to begin again, to find a new way.

Can there be a new beginning or any true redemption for those who have irrevocably "lost their innocence?"

Preview ----- Free Download or Purchase paperback




Preview:   Click on this button to see a full PDF file of the novel. You can see or read whatever parts of the book you are interested in here, including the entire novel.

Free download:    Which is simply what it says. A free download for your electronic device, which, I presume, you can also print out. Or read off your screen.

Purchase paperback:    To buy a paperback version of the novel will set you out twelve dollars. Plus an additional six dollars for shipping and handling. One novel, because of its size, is fifteen dollars. Expect to wait at least a week before your purchase arrives.




One Writer's Odyssey


"When I was young it [writing novels] was the most exciting thing you could do... It was more exciting to be a major novelist than to be a movie star. That was then. Today you could line up 10 major novelists and three teenagers would run them down in order to shake a movie star's hand, male or female. No, the fact of the matter is that, the novel may be on the way out. You know, essentially from now we may be as the only people who practice it. We are the kind of people who write five act verse plays in iambic pentameter."

Norman Mailer, speaking at the New York Public Library, June 27, 2007.


     Publishing acts as a form of validation. A seal of authenticity. It reveals that someone in the publishing world believes your work is good enough to distinguish it from the mountain of dreck which daily arrives on his desk. That at least it has passed through the scrutiny of an unbiased professional judge who believes enough in your work to put up his own money to present it to the world. Hoping people will buy and read it.

     For, certainly, the vast majority of unpublished works tend to be bad. They can often be quite bad: presumptuous, vulgar, untalented, wildly eccentric or, simply put, an amateurish and ungripping read. And even if they constitute a form of "good medicine," something which ought to be read, they can, perhaps worst of all, be dull. (Though many ugly human traits often emerge in the work of some highly popular authors, such as Mickey Spillane. The irony being that much of what is published is dreck too.)

     That is the company the unpublished author keeps. Nor, until he is finally published, can he even legitimately call himself an author. Or even a writer. For the inevitable question which follows an introduction to a well disposed stranger often enough is: "Oh, you write, do you? And what have you published?" And the empty blank the unpublished author responds with can surely awaken that tiny ironic amused smile we are all so familiar with. For everyone knows anyone can write, but to be a genuine author, a true writer, one must publish. That is the true seal of authenticity.

     So upon being introduced and asked what he does the unpublished may lamely only offer his day job as an answer: the mundane means by which he earns his daily bread. For not existing yet as an author he cannot admit with any pride that he writes. Never mind that he rises up early every morning to work two or three hours a day. That his entire inner and spiritual life is tied to this deep aesthetic quest, attempting to bring something meaningful and new to life. For, indeed, we the unpublished are in a sense much like the undead. Our work denied, unrecognized, non-existent in the eyes of the world. And whoever comes across it naturally enough will balk at ever reading it. For, after all, it is unpublished. It has not received a stamp of authenticity. It has not passed the basic test. And considering the overwhelming odds in all probability it merely truly is more dreck. A painful and difficult experience to read. And if that reader also happens to be a friend of the writer isn't he, that poor friend, placed into the terribly embarrassing situation of becoming forced to say something nice? To compliment his writer friend's work? Though, in truth, he thinks it is actually bad?

     So we, the unpublished, are much like the undead. And for many years now I have kept a deep cover. And only rarely have discussed my creative work with anyone. For not only lacking the "authenticity" and bona fides to openly speak out about my own work as an author I also do not care to discuss what I am currently doing. For writing is an extremely private matter and bringing in any outsider, no matter how sensitive or sympathetic, can be ruinous, a terrible distraction. Writing must be performed in private: in a state of near secrecy. And talking about a work in progress can often be a sure way of ruining it.

     What's more, at one time I suffered from a writer's block which, to me, seemed like one of the most persistent on record. A Guinness sized block which lasted more than two decades. For I have only truly desired to do one thing in my life: to write. And this block endured from my late teens into my late thirties. During that time I simply could not continue or finish anything I started: for on the following day I would simply stare at what I had done the previous day with an unyielding, unmoving blank.

     Why was I so cramped in this manner? There were many reasons, the desire just to "live" being one. I was often more drawn to the beckoning sunshine outofdoors than to the solitary quiet and shadows of my writing desk. (How poorly I understood Proust's need for a corklined room then!) I drank a great deal too and hangovers, like the common flu, can be a great impediment to writing. But most foolish of all, revealing my worst misconception regarding creativity, I relied upon inspiration to write.

     This great misconception and reliance on my part derived from my earliest experiences at writing. For in my late teens I often felt an exultant rush of inspiration whenever I wrote a page or two, experiencing what I believed to be a transcendent leap. And desiring to be a literary artist - most certainly not a mere commercial "hack" - I always hoped to be motivated by that transcendent rush each time I sat down to write: believing the only truly good creative writing resulted from this spark.

     You may be thinking this was foolish on my part? And you are certainly right. For inspiration comes to those who work. What I should have done, starting in my late teens, was persevere: set apart a certain fixed time of day, during the morning or at night, to faithfully work - every day - during that dedicated time. And perhaps I should not have been quite so self-critical, loosening the cramp of my block by focusing more on my theme, by concentrating on it every day. For, as I said, inspiration comes to those who work.

     Tomorrow for an artist can be a great friend. For tomorrow is always another day. Tomorrow an artist can review what he did today and try to correct it or do it over again. But the point is that an artist has to work without idling, or waiting to begin. For there no excuses for not doing so. He will accomplish nothing if he does not work. That simple maxim may be quite obvious but it needs repeating: an artist will accomplish nothing if he waits to be hit by a lightening bolt out of the blue. Unless he happens to be very, very lucky.

     But when I reached my thirty seventh year (1977) a miracle occurred. At that age I saw that forty was quick approaching. That if I continued in this empty manner by the time I reached my fortieth year I would have written nothing. That my lifelong ambition would become no more than a sterile dream, accomplishing nothing. So in a somewhat urgent state of surrender I sat down at my desk one day, yet again, and tried to write. I wrote without hope. I wrote thinking that in all probability I would never finish what I started. I wrote without taking any of my words too seriously, without seeking transcendence. I wrote because it was now or never, this was it. And a miracle occurred. For on the following day I was able to continue what I had started the day before. And on the day following that I was still able to continue. And each day I developed my story a little further. The miracle had happened! I was actually writing something! I was able to continue it! And what's more inspiration, I discovered, soon followed the beginning of each day's writing stint.

     The story becomes a little complicated now, what with graduate school, entering a profession, one thing and another. But this first novel of mine, The Adventures of Jamie Budlow, eventually extended to more than fifteen hundred typewritten pages. It is still raw, perhaps amateurish. Unfinished. For I have not been able to re-read it. What's more, I wrote it before the word processor became a common writer's tool. And to work on it once again would require putting all those fifteen hundred pages onto a computer. A Herculean task, I'm sure you would agree.

     Then in nineteen eighty eight (ten years after my father died) my mother died. I had recently been toying with the idea of writing a biography of my father, writing brief sketches here and there. Wondering how I would put the biography of such a fascinating life together. And having recently finished my first novel I also felt I had the liberty now to tell my father's story: the story of an artist-soldier which in many ways was quite heroic and passionate.

     I finished my first draft of Waiting at the Shore sometime in the early nineteen nineties. And then my experiences with the publishing world began. I met literary agents, publishers and several writers. Many expressed great enthusiasm and I am quite proud of the long distance phonecall I received one afternoon from that New York publishing "legend," Alan Williams, who enthusiastically praised my book and invited me to his home in New Jersey for dinner. (That being, I later learned, a traditional means of welcoming a new writer to the writing world.) I also received several recommendations from famous authors and, after many years, during which time I revised and polished my book, improving it, a university press finally took a serious interest in publishing it. The editor - a woman - was kind and sensitive and we could have perhaps worked well together. But in the world of university publishing a "peer" review is required. And an anonymous distinguished scholar volunteered to review my book: a man who professed to admire my father. To this day I have no idea who this scholar was for in the world of academic publishing a "peer" reviewer often remains anonymous. There are understandable reasons for this but on the other hand an author's curiosity is naturally aroused. An author would like to know just who it is who has expressed these opinions which have such a significant influence on the future of his book.

     Though he confessed he couldn't put Waiting at the Shore down my peer reviewer really didn't like the book very much. And since I had taken several large swaths from my father's memoirs (at the time unpublished) to incorporate into my text the reviewer suggested I "convert" what I had done into an "autobiography." But this would have been an entirely different book. And since I had already cut the length of my manuscript in half to adjust to the publisher's "price point" I turned down the university's offer of a contract for the book the reviewer envisioned: which would have been a scholarly version (it was being published by a university press after all) of a story which was not at all scholarly in spirit.

     Bad luck, huh? Since several distinguished authors and scholars have also read the self-published version of Waiting at the Shore and have complimented me highly for it. Following this experience with the university I sent out a few more queries and began to receive only standard rejection slips. From the great enthusiasm and interest at the start of this journey, several years earlier, to finally the blank anonymity of an unsigned conventional rejection slip. We, the unpublished, all know what they look like. It was as if the whole enterprise had simply finally petered out and the publishing world displayed its vast indifference by no longer even acknowledging my basic efforts.

     This process, the process of attempting to find a publisher for Waiting at the Shore, lasted over several years. By now I had become a librarian in the San Francisco Public Library. And one of the advantages of working there was a fairly flexible schedule. I could come in late in the morning and write at home for two or three hours before leaving for work. Also, being at work in the library was a good way of forgetting what I had written that morning, so that it would appear newly fresh when I looked at it again the following morning. So while I was attempting to find a publisher for Waiting at the Shore I continued to write. And, no, I didn't tell any of the contacts I made in the publishing world about what I was doing. Following that first novel (1500 typewritten pages long) I wrote seven more. These are the books I am offering here.

     I spent five or six years searching for a publisher for Waiting at the Shore. (A friend once sympathetically explained the reason why I finally couldn't find a publisher was because my father wasn't famous. And he may have been right.) But during that search I obtained a glimpse of the mentality of several professionals in the publishing business. And haven't attempted to find a publisher (with the exception of one) for any of these novels because I am convinced of the utter futility of doing so. Why put myself through that ordeal all over again, waiting anxiously for replies? For I know that even if any one of these novels artistically succeeds it will never be published. The barriers are simply too high.

     Speaking once to a literary agent I earnestly informed him that the only thing that mattered to me about Waiting at the Shore was if it succeeded "artistically and intellectually." I can still vividly recall the suppressed amusement that agent revealed at the presumptuousness of this bold assertion. And he came close to openly laughing at me. To believe, as an author, that my work may have some importance or genuine worth may indeed be presumptuous, but to desire it to be an artistic success should not be. For why else write? Samuel Johnson famously asserted "no man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." But there are far quicker and safer means of becoming rich than writing. And such expressions of sophisticated cynicism don't belie the fact that most genuine writers write because they are compelled to. For if an aspiring unpublished author focusses upon the accomplishments of Faulkner and Hemingway instead of Ludlum and Clancy it's not because he necessarily compares himself to Faulkner or Hemingway. It's because he doesn't care about Ludlum and Clancy. For why else become an artist if not to also enter the great game, attempting to succeed both intellectually and artistically? To do something truly valuable? Which is always a risk, a step into the unknown.

     When I sought a literary agent many years ago only a few took an interest in my work. (None finally represented me.) And I soon discovered that agents can be rather touchy people. They are proud people and would like to believe that they foster talent, discovering new talented authors. That mere crass commercialism doesn't fully motivate them but that they have an eye out for genuine quality: for good and new and talented authors. But scratch the surface of an agent's lofty literary posture and you will soon discover that "quality" is indeed defined as that which actually sells. And that a "platform" is often required by new authors. For, after all, publishing is a business, not a charitable enterprise. And the world of publishing has certain high standards.

     The largest enemy of all art is, perhaps, fashion, whether it be conservative or avant garde. In the world of corporate publishing, under the pressure of the ever higher profit margins the parent companies place, there are numerous formulas for success. And that which is truly original is not included among them. For not having been tried the original may not be profitable. And fostering the arts, experimental or otherwise, is not the publisher's mission unless a guarantee of high earnings accompany it. Which is why most new authors require a "platform." In other words, guarantees which have nothing to do with the innate value of a manuscript, unless it catches the eye of a publisher or agent as a sure winner. Fitting, in all probability, a known formula. Though true enough, an instinct for satisfying an agreeable public can be highly helpful.

     I can not speak for my own work. It may, in truth, be quite bad. A literary failure. And it may not deserve to be published or read. But there is no societal mirror available to me which can offer a worthy criticism of my work. And I would like to know the truth about the actual literary value of these novels too. Nor will I find that by stepping out once again into the publishing world. Not even, if I had the stomach for it, by searching among the small non-profit publishers. And the only feedback available to me can come from you, the reader.

     What's more, the novel no longer possesses the exalted standing it once had. The mass electronic corporate media has taken over that cultural position as the widespread modernday mirror of American life. The pressure of popular culture on the arts has always been large. But art, high art, always had its place. Today it has become an even smaller artifact of the larger culture. The great novel as an artistic mirror of society is becoming, as Norman Mailer pointed out, a museum piece. And we speak of great artists and writers as if they were all notables out of our historic past. Though some of us are old enough today to remember when many great names were still alive and working among us. Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck. No more. And this is true not only of literature but of all the arts. The corporation has become monolithic and reaches today into all aspects of modern American life. But the human spirit can not die even in an artificial culture, where its human roots may be smothered. Creativity never vanishes. How will it find its expression in the future? In the new technologies perhaps? In those mediums undominated by corporate power?

     There is indeed no such thing as a dull work of art. So I hope that these novels of mine are not at all dull as well as artistic and intellectual successes. Are they any good? I am, of course, aware of what I tried to accomplish. And sense some pride and excitement about what I did. But the artist, or writer, can never be the final judge of his own success. That is up to you. Though you, too, may not be of one opinion: so the question may only remain unanswered, pro or con. That's the way it sometimes is with art, at least for a long time. For only time is the surest critic of art. 







Brief Lines







Literary agents?

They are a touchy lot. They claim they search for "quality," but in truth they look for profits. And that is how they define "quality." A book which will sell.

Fine and well. But let's at least be honest. If profit is the genuine gage for deciding "quality" then why not openly say so? A literary agent is basically a business person. Someone trying to earn a living by representing writers. This has nothing to do with literary quality.

I remember once discussing my book, Waiting at the Shore, with an agent. I said, "All that matters to me is if this book is an artistic and intellectual success." And this agent openly laughed in my face.