Kirkus Reviews: “Blending real and fictional characters, Ponepinto remarkably sketches the end of an era for France, which is slipping into a war that ultimately sparks another. All this is seen through the naïve eyes of three Americans, blank slates for history to sketch upon as they admirably evolve. A winning novel about how small missteps can result in global consequences.” Read more of what Kirkus Reviews has to say about this book.
When three American performers travel to Paris in the summer of 1914, they become caught in the passions and politics of a nation on the brink of war. Separated by events, they fall in with factions for and against the conflict, and move ever deeper into a mysterious underground world of political intrigues.
Only one man, a statesman and journalist, has the courage to stand up to the corrupt French government and keep the country neutral. When a mad French warmonger plots to kill him, the three Americans—the brooding banjo player Gus, his secretive partner Jack, and the lovestruck singer Kera—represent the only chance to save him from assassination.
Based on true events surrounding the genesis of World War I, Curtain Calls captures the turmoil of the times that changed the course of modern history, in a story filled with the lust for power, betrayal, friendship, and love.
A collection of dark fiction. These are stories about madness and obsession in men ranging from a guilt-ridden artist who designs faces for soldiers disfigured in World War I, to a boxing manager who lusts after his comatose fighter’s wife, to a dying millionaire plotting the ultimate revenge against the man who stole his wife decades before. Each story explores the depths to which people allow themselves to fall.
In stories that range effortlessly across time period and place, Joe Ponepinto delivers the kind of masculine character we crave in literary fiction; these characters wrestle with the most essential questions of morality, and they bare-knuckle box with their human frailties. If the characters’ decisions are disastrous, they are passionately made. If their fates are tragic, their efforts are heroic. Ponepinto is unafraid to follow human nature to its final conclusions, no matter how difficult those conclusions may be. – Kelly Davio, Author of Burn This House