Books and Other Writings by Richard Balthazar
My authorial aspirations started rather early in life with a couple pubescent novels, manuscripts that I now keep under strict security. After my New Orleans period, I knew it should be a novel and made notes on it a few years later, actually starting the writing in the mid 80’s. That was when I also began a novel about my Arkansas period and my opus on Indian mounds. With these two fabulous projects, I started looking for a literary agent, a search that dragged out for more than a decade without a single response, even for courtesy. Need we ask why?
So in the early 1990s I decided to start my own publishing company, which for arcane reasons I called FIVE FLOWER PRESS. In my professional job I’d managed publication of several books, and so I didn’t feel intimidated. The first one was nonfiction about my Indian mound project mentioned above, published in 1992 as REMEMBER NATIVE AMERICA, The Earthworks of Ancient America. It was done very professionally with a talented designer, major printer and national distributor, and respectable advertising efforts to good reviews and nominal sales. It is now available in electronic form for free download by clicking on the above title.
Right after that (1993) I published CELEBRATE NATIVE AMERICA, An Aztec Book of Days. It was equally nicely done, including my own artwork, my own version of the Aztec Calendar with its 20 13-day weeks. It enjoyed very few sales and even fewer reviews. While spectacular and the source of most of the Aztec images on this website, I simply had to spend several years digging myself out of the financial hole publishing these two books plunged me into. Sorry, but I don’t have a copy of the cover to include here. You can now download it for free by clicking on the title.
Feeling rather burned, I turned to fiction during the later 90s but couldn’t ignore a nonfiction linguistics project I’d been fooling around with for forty years. Biting the bullet I published it in 2006 through the online publisher AuthorHouse.com, where it is still for sale in hard copy: GETTING GET, The Glossary of a Wild Verb. It’s unlike anything you language freaks have ever seen. And now it is available for free download by clicking on the title. Get it!
Two of my other writing projects were also published online with AuthorHouse, where they languished for some years since I couldn’t market them. Finally I decided to withdraw them and revise, revise, revise. The first was an autobiographical novella about a naive kid in the backwoods of Arkansas who had no idea he was gay. I finished it in 2015, and it’s now available here for free: BAT IN A WHIRLWIND. You can download the whole text or by chapter.
The second book that got revised within an inch of its life was a memoir of going back in. (I’d been out as a gay guy for a long time before–see below.) When I left the fairyland of the French Quarter in 1964 and went to Seattle for graduate school, I wound up falling from faerie grace and becoming a husband and father. That trauma is minutely detailed in THERE WAS A SHIP (2016), which like my other books is available for free download by clicking on the title. This is a unique slice of gay history not to be missed.
Also iIn 2016, I switched gears and wrote a biography of my mother with an enormous number of pictures–which gave me great experience in photo restoration. The book is titled MS. YVONNE, The Secret Life of My Mother, which seems to be quite popular–maybe because she was a survivor of Hurricane Katrina and lived to the ripe old age of 94. It’s available by clicking on the title.
Distracted by art projects (also see below) for several years, I fitted in work on a second memoir, the story of my second coming out in 1970 after four more years of marriage and two daughters. Right at the end of 2019, I finished and loaded it on the website just in time for Covid lockdown… This memoir is entitled LORD WIND, the story of my many loves and adventures when I was once again a free gay man, is another significant piece of gay history. Again, click on the chapter titles and they’re yours for free.
When I went into solitary confinement in 2020 for the Covid pandemic, I dived into my third gay memoir about the liberated 1970s in Washington DC. GAY GEISHA is about when I was the owner of a Victorian mansion and entertained parade of admirers. It’s gay history from our Golden Age. Since I was unsure about my mortality, I started posting chapters as they were completed, and as of April 2021, I’ve finished thirteen chapters up through August 1976. Check it out and start reading it like a serial by clicking on the chapter titles.
Recently I stumbled on the computer file for my first novel which I’d published in 2004 with AuthorHouse. I revised the heck out of it so I’ve now posted it here for free download at last! It is a remarkable piece of gay history from the Stone Age of the early 1960s in New Orleans. DIVINE DEBAUCH is the picaresque, semi-fictional, semi-epistolary tale of a college boy who frequents the disreputable Latin and Greek sailor dives on the Wild Side waterfront of the French Quarter. I doubt you’ve ever read anything like it. Click and download by chapter.
Besides that mixed bag of fiction, nonfiction, and memoir, I’ve been fairly productive in the field of art, over several years producing 20 black-and -white drawings designed for a coloring book. Printed on large vinyl banners, I exhibited them as YE GODS! Icons of Aztec Deities at seven venues before getting locked down by the pandemic. In conjunction with that show’s catalog collection of the icons, I wrote an illustrated encyclopedia of Aztec deities and a treatise on the surviving Aztec Codices. I think I’ve hit the wall on the time-consuming icons and am now concentrating my drawing energies on re-creating the tonalamatls (books of days) from various codices to post as galleries. Watch for them because they’ll knock your socks off!
On top of all that, I’ve made a free Public Library of my poetry, short prose, and plays, all available for a click.
There is still one volume of memoir on the slate, title unknown. It will cover my early 1980s, a Renaissance time before the Plague of AIDS arrived. At least in this current plague of COVID I’ve had my two shots and can hope to survive long enough to deal with those splendid years.