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CLMP Publishers Literature & Fiction - Action & Adventure Mystery & Thrillers - Thrillers

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Pinball Wizard

ISBN: 9781733386487
Binding: Paperback
Author: Michael D. Meloan
Pages: 136
Trim: 5.5 x 8.5 inches
Published: 08/15/2023

"Are you the Pinball Wizard or the pinball?" asks Ralph's manager inside a nuclear hardened bunker in England. That is the question driving Michael D. Meloan's new novella—a story of love, sex, jets, and Bukowski.

Lights flash and bells ring as Ralph is buffeted between a controlling father, international intrigue in the US defense industry, and a friendship with the writer Charles Bukowski. A wild girlfriend also ratchets-up the action.

But in the end, it is Ralph's turn at the controls.


Michael D. Meloan's fiction has appeared in Wired, Huffington Post, Buzz, LA Weekly, Larry Flynt's Chic, and in many anthologies. He was an interview subject in the documentaries Bukowski: Born Into This and Joe Frank: Somewhere Out There. With Joe Frank, he co-wrote a number of radio shows that aired across the National Public Radio syndicate. His Wired short story "The Cutting Edge" was optioned for film. And he co-authored the novel The Shroud with his brother Steven. For many years, he was a software engineer. In addition, he does killer karaoke.


"My mailbox contained a surprise a week or so ago: Pinball Wizard, a novella by Michael Meloan. It is one of the most satisfying reading experiences I've had in recent years, in part because it handles a famous writer (Charles Bukowski) as one of its main characters with nonchalant deftness. Meloan's slightly picaresque story is hard to classify, which is one of the things that makes it such a pleasure to read. He has a gift for writing unapologetically masculine prose; it's flavorful without being exotic, and it doesn't hurt that he has a fine ear for dialogue." - Bill Mohr, writer, critic, and English Literature Professor at California State University, Long Beach

"No one creates a sense of mood and place quite like Meloan. He's staked out his own turf." - Joe Frank, Peabody Award winning NPR monologue artist

"In the novel, Pinball Wizard is the code name of a top-secret military operation designed to help NATO fighter jets evade surface-to-air missiles from Eastern Bloc countries. This assignment presents software engineer Ralph Hargraves with life-changing decisions which the protagonist does not necessarily want to face. No wonder: a closer look at his personal life reveals cracks, problems and conflicts on just about every level. Admirable are the successful timing and content balance of the story: Meloan obviously uses existing know-how in dealing with programming languages, knows how to deal with technical and human details and skillfully weaves the facets of Hargraves' existence together. It is even astonishing how easily such lush content has been packed into a novel of 136 pages. A complex plot is joined by further flourishes such as the character comedy found in Hargrave's colleagues, authentic and L.A. typical descriptions. Funnily enough, in this turbulent narrative network of impressions and scenes, top secret missions, various drugs and alcoholic beverages, and major emotional decisions, one no longer thinks of Charles Bukowski, who appears at the beginning of the novel, but by the end, his reappearance seems all the more worthwhile and successful." - Reviewed by Sandra Falke. Translated from German.