A new novel of mine, The Ash Tree, has been published by West of West Books in conjunction with the April 24, 2015 centenary of the Armenian genocide; it recounts the lives of an Armenian-American family and the sweep of their history in the twentieth century - particularly from the points of view of two women in the family as it builds a new life in California.
There are three other novels of mine - one is Pathological States, about a physician's family in L.A. in 1962, which is as yet unpublished; another is Hungry Generations, about a young composer's friendship in L.A. with the family of a virtuoso pianist, published on demand by iUniverse; and Acts of Terror and Contrition - a nuclear fable - is my political novella (with eight stories) from Amazon's Createspace, about Israel and its reactions to the first Iraq War in 1990 (with the fear then that Saddam Hussein's missile bombardment might contain a nuclear weapon).
From a review of "Acts" on Amazon.com:
"At times the reader races ahead to find out the fate of the cast of characters and the fate of nations. At others the reader is stopped mid-page to consider the paradoxes of the nuclear world and the world of realpolitik. This is an important, timely book that deserves a wide audience."
For a fuller description of them, look for the relevant blog posts below or click on one of the Amazon.com links. KINDLE editions of these novels are also available.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Show of Jeanette Arax Melnick's paintings - a Plain Dealer news article about the Beachwood Library show this month

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Here's a link to the YouTube video of Jeanette's show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40YY0m6yyaw .

Beachwood artist explores Armenia, geometry, Sid Vicious and folk art in exhibit

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Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick, who will exhibit her works at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. (John Petkovic/The Plain Dealer)
John Petkovic, The Plain DealerBy John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer 
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on December 03, 2015 at 2:15 PM, updated December 03, 2015 at 2:35 PM
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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick.
Yes, there is a personal side in works by the Beachwood artist, who will exhibit her paintings at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library during the month of December.
(The show opens at 2 p.m. Sunday at the library, 25501 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland. For more info, go to cuyahogalibrary.org/Branches/Beachwood.aspx or call 216-831-6868.)
You can see it in "The Quince Tree," a work that was inspired by a photo of her and her father, taken when she was a little girl, in 1946. The photo is in the work itself, along with photos of her grandchildren, children and husband.
But her relationship with the world is as much spatial one – in which she absorbs aspects of it through the senses or through patterns rather than just the heart or mind.
"Sometimes I just look at the world and see all these geometric shapes and I see aspects of my paintings in them," says Arax Melnick. "Like right now I'm sitting in a room looking at pillows or I could be looking at an oriental carpet and finding interesting patterns."
There is little pattern when it comes to divining the Fresno, Ca. native's style – which shoehorns folk art and "museum type art," as she likes to say.
"Art was always my companion and I never sought out to follow a particular style or painter," she says. "I started to study painting at (University of California, Berkley), but I switched to history because I realized that I wanted to be my own painter."
She delved into medieval history, along with the "flatness" found in its art.  She has created in the shadows of a family history that extends back to the Armenian genocide of 1915 – which led to her family settling in California.
"Armenian history is very complicated, especially with Turkey denying the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians," says Arax Melnick, whose husband Daniel Melnick recently released a novel that honors the memory of the genocide. "And yet that complication has given me a feeling for the suffering of all mankind."
"As a child, I was inspired looking at old Armenian manuscripts and seeing these people with big brown eyes and soulful looks," she adds. "They look like they've suffered and yet survive and go on."
Sid Vicious -- the English punk from a much later time, 1970s London – captivated her in a very different way.
zz art 2 lowres.jpg"Sid Vicious," one of works by Jeanette Arax Melnick that will be on display at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. 
"I never listened to his music, though I know Aaron and Lennie have," says Arax Melnick, referring to her sons, co-founders of legendaryCleveland hardcore band Integrity. "I just loved his face and the zippers."
For years, the painting hung at the old Arabica on Coventry. Arax Melnick received a number of offers for it, but chose to hold onto it.
"It's hard to give up on that Sid Vicious," she says. "I've never looked at the money side of it."
It's all matter of perspective, even when it comes to art.
"I tend to avoid perspective and I think it's given my work a certain character," she says. "I'll have a table that looks like it's floating and could see it as an illusion, but to me it's just how I see it and see the world. So I guess you could say the world is an illusion, too."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Video of Eskejian Museum reading from The Ash Tree

Here's a post for my blog of the YouTube link to the presentation of and reading from "The Ash Tree" at L.A.'s Eskejian Museum (thank you Eskejian and Maggie): (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dYB35mGO2lI)


A book reading and conversation with author, Daniel Melnick - a professor emeritus of english at cleaveland state university and moderator Mark Arax
YOUTUBE.COM

Monday, August 17, 2015

an article about the Beachwood reading for "The Ash Tree" plus two readers' reviews on Amazon

Here is an article from the August issue of the Beachwood, Ohio, city magazine about my reading of The Ash Tree on June 15 at the Beachwood branch of the Cuyahoga County Library. As I wrote before here and on the novel's blog, I was very moved to see so many people there; the librarian said the capacity crowd in the library's reading room was about 100. Here it is:
Also, here are two reviewers' comments on Amazon:

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
“The Ash Tree” is a compelling, beautifully-rendered story of the Ararat family of Fresno. A firm, opinionated woman stands as its matriarch. Artistic sensibilities secure its core.

As a mother and grandmother, Artemis Ararat admits she doesn’t know it all. “Who truly were the people she loved?” she asks. What was her responsibility in understanding them? What was her responsibility to herself?

These questions are pertinent to every family. Not every family is brave enough to ask them.

A family grows strong by maneuvering through its layers: the mechanics of everyday life weighed against an individual’s deepest dreams. Proximity of fate is rarely enough. Personalities must be respected and conflicts negotiated, spirited by an unfailing love.

If a family is fortunate, its vulnerabilities will be tempered by its strengths. “The Ash Tree” shows how parents and children can lean together through triumph and tragedy, hands joined in good faith, to treasure the sum of its parts.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This remarkable family drama begins 100 years ago in the midst of the Armenian Genocide. We see the evolution of the Ararats as they evolve from Armenian-American newcomers struggling to grab a foothold in the parched California landscape to fully realized Americans, less hyphenated, but still grappling with the kinds of problems that beset families no matter the time or location. We feel the pull of the Old World even as the younger generation strives for the prosperity, success and freedom afforded by America. We witness intense interpersonal conflicts and nuanced devotion between the main characters- conflicts and devotion that are mirrored by the passion of many for Armenia and by others for the promise of a new life in America. And we experience the pain of loss from the shattering tragedy that threatens to destroy all they have worked for. The characters are unforgettable, the language is melodious, the history is compelling.
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Monday, July 27, 2015

"The Ash Tree" now generally available.

"The Ash Tree" is now available to libraries and independent bookstores through Baker & Taylor, and I hope you'll encourage your local library and indie bookstore to order it!
Here again is a brief summary: "The Ash Tree" (ISBN 9780981854762) tells a timeless story of the romance and marriage between an American Armenian girl and her immigrant husband who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey. 
In the aftermath of the Genocide from the twenties to the early seventies, the couple and their three children become vivid, quintessentially American characters, only for tragedy to find them again, echoing the staggering loss of 1915. 
Its cover painting with its frayed and white-washed frame is by the author’s wife, Jeanette Melnick. Lovingly produced and brilliantly structured to combine history and fictionalized memoir, The Ash Tree is an important, beautifully written novel of survival, new life, and heartbreak.