The Corner

See Sakhalin Island and Die

The final free excerpt from my first novel, Exchange Alley, is now up over at Big Hollywood. The complete novel is on sale for just 99 cents this week on Kindle, and will be available on the Nook sometime in the next few days. Not for the squeamish, but if you ever wanted to experience how the Soviets used to break people psychologically and physically — without the, you know, agony — here’s your big chance.

After a while, even the most resolute protest subsided. The punishment was too severe, the hopelessness too overwhelming. Nothing a man said availed him anything, for no one was listening, including God. No man had the strength to protest all his life; acceptance of what you could not change was part of growing up and thus even the most dedicated resisters either died or conformed. In the end all men were collaborators, either with the enemy or with Death. Every man might be a hero to his dog, but no man is a hero to his jailer. No man, caught in the pitiless glare of the light, could harbor heroism in his breast. He could only scrabble for his soul.

The title, by the way, refers to the short street in the French Quarter that runs northeast from Canal Street to Iberville Street, between Chartres and Royal. (It’s also called Exchange Place.) No. 126 Exchange Alley is where Lee Harvey Oswald lived with his mother after their return from the Bronx in 1954:

Exchange Alley was well known as the location of other elements; it was an area notorious for illicit activities. As the managing director of the Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans, Aaron Kohn recalled, “Exchange Alley, specifically that little block that Oswald lived on, was literally the hub of some of the most notorious underworld joints in the city.” (6). He noted further that Exchange Alley was the location of various gambling operations affiliated with the Marcello organization.

And away we go . . .

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