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An expanded 75th-anniversary edition of Alan Kapelner's proto-Beat novel, LONELY BOY BLUES, out of print for more than 50 years
76 backers pledged $1,037 to help bring this project to life.
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Lonely Boy Blues by Alan Kapelner was originally published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1944. In an article about neglected books on The New York Society Library website, Steven McGuirl wrote that Kapelner's debut novel "chronicles a few months in the shattered lives of a Brooklyn family during WWII. It harkens back to proletarian realism of decades past while utilizing the innovations of modernism and a hip, jazz-inflected style that anticipates the Beat writers of the 1950s." The Pulp International website described the novel as "a precursor to Kerouac and the like—verbally experimental, trying to capture with its prose the rhythm of jazz and bop," and labeled its style as "proto-Beat."

Read the first chapter here: http://www.toughpoets.com/kapelner/kapelner_chapter1.pdf 

Legendary editor Maxwell Perkins, best known for his work on the first novels of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe, wrote that Kapelner had "a most unusual talent in narrative, in dialogue, and in perception," and agreed to take on the editing of Lonely Boy Blues. It would be one of his last projects before his death in 1947.

Although the novel was well received by reviewers upon its first publication, sales were disappointing. Either it was stylistically a little ahead of its time or, perhaps, the American public was just looking for more escapist reading during the tumultuous war years.

Lonely Boy Blues was later released as a paperback by Lion Books (1956) and Belmont Books (1961) in the U.S., and Mayflower-Dell (1965) in the U.K. It was also translated into German and Dutch. However, none of these editions sold well and the book has remained out of print for more than 50 years.

Left to right: The original Scribner's edition (1944), the Lion Books edition (1956), the Belmont Books edition (1961), and the Mayflower-Dell edition (1965)
Left to right: The original Scribner's edition (1944), the Lion Books edition (1956), the Belmont Books edition (1961), and the Mayflower-Dell edition (1965)

About This New Edition

This 75th-anniversary edition of Lonely Boy Blues includes literary critic Seymour Krim's 1967 interview with the author, "I Talk with Alan Kapelner," from his 1970 collection of essays, Shake It for the World, Smartass. The cover features a reproduction of Arthur Sussman's artwork that was used on the 1956 Lion Books edition.

The 2019 Tough Poets Press 75th-anniversary edition. Cover artwork by Arthur Sussman.
The 2019 Tough Poets Press 75th-anniversary edition. Cover artwork by Arthur Sussman.

Format: Paperback
Pages: 148
Dimensions: 8.27" x 5.83" x 0.32" (210mm x 148mm x 8mm) 

Reviews of the Original Edition

"An altogether remarkable novel: a tough and bitter story of city life told in the spirit, and largely in the rhythm, of the blues. ... Overpoweringly brilliant. Lonely Boy Blues is something different and something to remember."
       — The Philadelphia Enquirer

"Syncopated prose, a novel of almost brutal realism."
       — Miami Daily News-Record 

"This is an unconventional, hard-hitting story."
       — The Los Angeles Times 

"One seldom encounters in recent novels such terse and photographic realism so successfully projected."
       — Minneapolis Star Tribune 

"Undeniably this is a tour de force."
       — Hartford Courant 

"From the very outset Alan Kapelner grips your attention, and that is due to the virtuosity of his writing."
       — Saturday Review of Literature

About the Author

"Kapelner (too little known) is seasoned, unique, resourceful, beautifully cocky toward existence and humble to individuals he respects, a writer lying in wait for readers, practically undiscovered in the overpopulated wilderness of the U.S. '60s."
       — Seymour Krim (1970)

Left: Author Alan Kapelner / Right: Edith Stephen Kapelner who recently celebrated her 100th birthday on April 2.
Left: Author Alan Kapelner / Right: Edith Stephen Kapelner who recently celebrated her 100th birthday on April 2.

Alan Kapelner was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. He graduated from Erasmus Hall High School in Brooklyn's Flatbush neighborhood and later took courses at the New School. He was a great athlete and was asked to play with a professional baseball team. "I refused," he wrote, "because I knew I was going to be a writer." Kapelner had only one other novel published: All the Naked Heroes (1960). Two other novels, one titled The Air-Conditioned Hell, were completed but never published. His only other known published works were two short stories: "Jelly, Jelly, Jelly" in the 1955 anthology New Voices 2: American Writing Today, and "The Walking Running People" in the 1971 Survival Prose: An Anthology of New Writings. Kapelner died in 1990, leaving his wife, the dancer Edith Stephen, who celebrated her 100th birthday on April 2.

Where the Money Will Go

As with all my previous Kickstarter projects, my goal is simply to break even and get the book out there. For this campaign to be successful, I will need to raise $552. In the interest of full disclosure, here's how it all breaks down, assuming 46 U.S. pledges at $12 each:  

Kickstarter's 10% cut: $55.20
Printer set-up fees: $49.00
ISBN and bar code: $85.00
Cost to print 46 copies and ship to me: $167.78
Cost to package and mail 46 copies domestically ($2.93 each): $134.78
Cost to print 10 copies and ship to Kapelner's estate: $59.60
My profit: $0.64

About Tough Poets Press 

Tough Poets Press is a one-person independent publisher of rediscovered offbeat literary fiction and non-fiction founded in 2015. To date, I've published 10 books thanks to the generous support of the Kickstarter community, including the recent first-ever reissues of Donald Newlove's 1978 novel, Sweet Adversity, and Gil Orlovitz's 1970 experimental novel, Ice Never F

Risks and challenges

There are really no risks or challenges. This will be the eleventh book I've produced so I've got the process down to a science. With the exception of the acknowledgments page, which will be updated when this Kickstarter campaign has ended, the book is complete and ready to go to the printer.

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Funding period

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