This may be Antanas' third published novel, but it's at least the seventh he has actually written over the last thirty years. I first met Antanas and his wife Snaige (herself an accomplished lithographer and painter) in Paris in 1979. I wrote an article for Books in Canada magazine about young Canadians living the dream that brought Americans and Canadians - including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway -- to Paris fifty years earlier in 1929, a world captured so evocatively in Morley Callaghan's That Summer in Paris (which, apropos of nothing, was given a really stupid review by Norman Mailer in the NYT in 1963). For my article, I interviewed the young Antanas just before his first short story was to be published in a literary magazine called Paris Voices (fame came quickly to the lad . . . lol!), and we have remained close friends ever since.
I admire two things about Antanas (besides his love of partying, appreciation of good wine and unpastuerized Camembert, and his first-rate cooking skills): first, he has held on to his dream of being a novelist after rejections that would deaden the soul of a weaker person; second, he has remained true to the tradition of storytelling.
What I like about his three published novels -- and why, on the contrary, I still haven't finished Jonathan Safran Foer's Everything is Illuminated -- is that they are effortless, well-told stories which uncover simple truths about those of us who are 'merely' ordinary. They can be read in a single sitting, and afterwards you feel better about life and the people in it.
Perseverance and truth-telling . . . not at all shabby qualities in a writer . . . and a friend.