Gene Mirabelli

The author of five novels—including some very sexy covers—as well as numerous short stories, book reviews, and journalistic pieces, Gene Mirabelli is “over 70 and probably the least known man of letters since Hawthorne.”

Writer, treasurer, and drudge Gene Mirabelli’s first novel, The Burning Air, was published in 1959. His most recent novella, The Language Nobody Speaks, was published by Spring Harbor Press. Update: His 2012 novel, Renato, the Painter, won the 2013 IPPY Gold Medallion for Literary Fiction.

Date of Birth: Feb. 3, 1931. I, too, find this hard to believe. My first book was published around the middle of the last century.

Occupational title(s), both real and desired-in-another-lifetime: Literary Drudge is my current title. I’m Treasurer (unpaid) of Alternative Literary Programs, a large arts organization in New York State. I’m also a Professor Emeritus, which I thought was an honorary title until I discovered they actually reviewed my teaching career. Sometimes I’m a fiction writer or political-opinion writer or book reviewer, but those fall under the general title of Literary Drudge. I’m now trying to get the title Successful Novelist in the 21st Century, having not made it in the previous one.

Why and to where did sex in novels disappear? It certainly hasn’t disappeared from my novels. I was especially happy when a Turkish publisher bought the foreign rights to The Language Nobody Speaks. It’s one of the very few erotic novels from the West to be published in a Muslim country.

Favorite books? Don’t play favorites.

Aside from the rave reviews for your recent story, ‘The Only Known Jump Across Time,’ in the September 2003 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, there was some other hubbub regarding the story as well. Want to talk a bit about that? ‘The Only Known Jump Across Time’ weaves fact and fiction so that most readers wouldn’t be able to unravel them and I thought it might interest some of the highbrow literary magazines. It didn’t. But a friend suggested The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and the editor, Gordon Van Gelder, took a chance on it. Much to my surprise the online critics and readers took to it, discussed it. I’m used to a more cautious, pinched, and crabby readership—the open, freewheeling online world was a fresh-air breeze. One of my even stranger pieces won a Pushcart prize in total silence. I’d give up my prizes for a joyful noise any day.

Heroes? Ben Franklin and Giuseppe Garibaldi.

What’s your take on older writers and the publishing industry’s treatment of them? The problem for an older writer—or an older painter or composer, for that matter—is that you have a record and, unless it’s a stunningly brilliant record, agents and editors turn you away in favor of an unknown who at least has the potential to earn more money than you. (Younger, emerging writers, take heart!) I’ve always been what publishers call a mid-list writer; my books sell, but they’re not at the top of the list.

What makes you laugh? President Bush, dressed in the costume of a fighter pilot, announcing victory.

Charity worth giving to? The workers at The Morning News seem like a worthy bunch, though young.

Five words that sound great? Cumulous, lunar, clatter, Gabriella, Francesca (I have a couple of daughters.)


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack