Joseph Dobrian's third novel, Hard-Wired, is the story of a neurotic, unpopular teenager coming of age in a Midwestern town in the 1960s. second novel, Ambitions, is dysfunctional family drama: what the author calls "Kardashians for intellectuals." His first novel, Willie Wilden, is social satire that focuses especially on the follies of progressive academia. His colleciton of essays, Seldom Right But Never In Doubt, casts a sardonic eye on a wide range of topics.
Teenaged Christine Wainwright's parents seem to regard her (and her musical ambitions) as an inconvenience. Christine's earnest, vain elder brother, David, is the star of the family: an up-and-coming novelist who's given his parents a perfect daughter-in-law and adorable grandchildren. The middle child, Melissa, is struggling with her teaching career and a choice between two men: steady, pragmatic Leander and worshipful Connor.
When Christine disappears, suspicion falls on the Wainwrights' scheming neighbor, Andy Palinkas, who loathes Christine's parents. The unfolding mystery reveals the true story behind the Wainwrights' respectable façade: a convoluted saga of unwanted children, disastrous marriages, romantic double-crosses, and domestic plots and counter-plots.
Ambitions is a philosophical and psychological novel: stark, elegantly written family drama set in a Midwestern university town. It's a story of aspiration, frustration, adoration, and betrayal.
Roger Ballou’s only source of pride is that he lives in Manhattan on the small income he makes as a writer. He can’t remember the last time he had ambition, a cause, or a girlfriend. He’s hot-tempered, cantankerous, suspicious — and as one acquaintance puts it, “He looks like he’s got Girl Scouts in his freezer.” When business dries up, Ballou takes a teaching position at Van Devander College, in the little upstate town of Wildenkill. Almost immediately, his contentious personality throws him into the thick of the college community’s rivalries, romances, and clashes of values. He also finds a cause: defending Willie Wilden, the iconic but politically incorrect college mascot.
“Willie Wilden lampoons the political, academic, and literary worlds all at the same time. It’s a zany, stylish panorama of American values and foibles.”
—Jim Lesczynski, author of The Walton Street Tycoons
“Roger Ballou is what you’d get if you mated Miss Jean Brodie with Ignatius J. Reilly.”
—Casper Melick, author of Pétain at Yeu: a Novel
Seldom Right But Never In Doubt:
Essays, Journalism, and Social Commentary, 1997-2012
With an introduction by Dorothy Parker
By turns playful, angry, clever, serious, sentimental, cynical, and ribald, Joseph Dobrian’s essays and journalism turn conventional wisdom on its ear. This collection of Joseph Dobrian’s non-fiction provides new, contrarian perspectives on a wide range of subjects, and dares you to disagree. In the course of this book, the author:
• explains what it means to write honestly
• debunks the concept of “unconditional love”
• contrasts modern and old-fashioned ideas of etiquette
• discusses the finer points of food, drink, and personal style
• looks askance at politics, justice, and religion
• dissects “The Awful English Language”
• advises on how to keep romance alive
• suggests what music to listen to, on the last night of your life
“The American Orwell. Joseph Dobrian is a wonderful writer.” — Casper Melick
“Even if you can’t agree with everything in Joseph Dobrian’s aptly titled book of essays — and I certainly can’t — you can’t help but admire the passion and perception revealed in each one. Provocateur, devil’s advocate, pontificator, stylist, romantic, 24/7 judge and jury, humanist despite his best intentions to the contrary, he will irritate you, entertain you, and just possibly make you rethink your own indefensible positions.” — Holly Carver
Andy Palinkas is a modern Don Quixote. He’s unattractive. He’s suspicious of others. He’s fixated on a girl he can’t win. He embarrasses himself at sports. Plus, as Andy observes, “Having a younger brother who can beat you at anything: That has got to be the worst thing in the world.” As he grows up in State City, Iowa, in the mid-1960s, Andy copes with his pathological self-loathing by imagining himself as a hero. He creates alternative realities in which he’s powerful, accomplished, brave—and sometimes vengeful. Andy also remarks on the history that’s being made— the assassination of President Kennedy, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam war—and begins to develop a political conscience, plus a strong sense of justice.
To his amazement, by his senior year at State City High, Andy has become one of the cool kids. Then, he faces a decision that might cost him the status and admiration he’s earned. Hard-Wired will resonate with any adult who remembers the humiliations, the painful humor, and the occasional victories of adolescence.