In The Cold Last Swim (Gibson House Press, May 2020) by Junior Burke, a televised confrontation between James Dean and Ronald Reagan kicks off a novel of alternate history, a “sliding doors” narrative that mixes real and imagined events.
Asked in a recent interview how he came up with the idea for his new novel, Burke says: “Several years ago, I was in a bookstore in Los Angeles and came across a book of Dennis Stock photographs. One photo was an image of James Dean on the General Electric Theater, holding a pistol on Ronald Reagan. I had no idea those two had any connection whatsoever; Dean, the ultimate non-conformist, and Reagan, the essence of conservatism. I found that juxtaposition compelling and ultimately decided to explore the possibilities of such an incongruous pair of figures.”
“Junior Burke’s sure-footed alternative history recasts the wild life and turbulent times of James Dean with wit and great inventiveness. Personal dramas blend with political conflicts in a fast-paced and gritty tale of ambition, second chances, and obsession,” said Andrew Wille.
“[E]ntertaining and surprising all the way to the end,” said Alex Cox, director-writer of Repo Man and Sid & Nancy.
“Cast in the style of noir, albeit sunny California noir . . . Burke’s narrative is a whirlwind escape into the speculative Land of What-If,” wrote PopMatters.
From Chicago’s Reader: “Set in an alternate-timeline version of golden-age Hollywood, it kicks off with James Dean shooting Ronald Reagan during a live TV broadcast in 1954 and gets stranger from there.”
Besides The Cold Last Swim, Junior Burke is the author of the novels Something Gorgeous and A Thousand Eyes. He is also a songwriter and recording artist whose 2007 album While You Were Gone was named by New York’s Bowery Poetry Club as one of the best releases of that year. Other albums include Spot of Time (2017) and the EP America’s a Lonely Town (2019). He lives in rural Colorado.
A traditional press based in the Chicago area, Gibson House Press publishes literary fiction in original trade paperback and ebook editions, with a penchant for working with writers who are also musicians. With national distribution by PGW, Gibson House titles are available wherever books are sold.
Publicity Contact: Mary Bisbee-Beek [email protected]