Only The Dead
(Know the End of War)
The 19th century saw the births, the very painful births, of both the Mexican and Texas Republics. The origin of both came at the price of a treasure of blood spilled, losses suffered and dreams crushed. In the case of Mexico, it also involved deceit, subterfuge and a woeful amount of treachery. In the case of the latter, it entailed a sanguinary war and mass summary executions by the powerful Mexican army.
This is the story of three families, two Mexican and one Texan, their struggles against savage Indians, between staunch idealists and brutal cynics and the societies that engendered them. It also makes plain the perils of a rigidly hierarchical social system and the Scots-Irish bounty of individual initiative that propelled the westward expansion of the United States.
It further chronicles the necessary compromises and heartbreaking sacrifices that all of these developments—in individuals and whole societies—unfailingly entail.
Letter from the Editor:
"Wow. I am bereft of words to describe the feelings I have on finishing this book. Perhaps the tears that started to fall as I read these final words say it all.
This is masterful, epic tale, evocatively and beautifully written. Thank you. I feel honored to have been your editor (although you left very little to be edited – rarely have I been a assigned a book so eloquently written)."
Book Life / Publishers' Weekly Review:
Notzon writes a gripping and heartfelt 19th century tale revolving around the lives of three families from Mexico and Texas, struggling to survive through wars, famines, the ever-changing political and social atmosphere, and the contested ownership of the land itself. Notzon twines the historical record of the Mexican War of Independence and the Texas Revolution with his characters’ experience of love, lust, grief, and loss as the novel spans some three decades of hotly contested land claims, skirmishes, and clashes between competing Republics. Clear throughout is how the intertwined fates of his people, many attempting to “carve out a life for themselves in this seeming wasteland,” so often are determined by forces beyond themselves, forces hungry for power.
Notzon’s take on the futility and inevitability of war is refreshing, as he gives readers a hard-hitting perspective of what it means to put one’s life on the line. “To acknowledge the humanity of those you must kill paralyzes the will,” he writes. Only the Dead proves as engaging at capturing the everyday and the drift of mind of its cast as it is when depicting monumental—sometimes harrowing—historical events involving the likes of Sam Houston and Santa Anna. Use of terms like “savage” and “barbaric” to describe indigenous people may give some readers pause, though Notzon’s project is to capture how his 19th-century cast perceives their world.
Only The Dead will inspire in readers a productive reckoning with the devastating effects of western expansion on the people and the land. Notzon poignantly writes, “This land is littered with the grave of those it conquered”—a striking reminder about the peril and hardship faced by those who, in search of better futures, dared to migrate to unknown lands that would swallow them. This is a thoughtful, persuasively detailed story of people longing for a place they can call home, both colonizers and colonized, Spaniards, Creoles, and Indians, and Mexicans and Texans.
Suffer Not The Mole People
What does it take to forsake all that’s familiar: lives, language, customs, culture, family, history, to pick up stakes and flee to a new world where much is promised but nothing guaranteed?
This is the frightful challenge facing the Kaczmarek family in 19th century Silesia, Poland. Where does an individual and a family find the courage to face such a wrenching ordeal? Will the dreams, the fears, the hopes and misgivings pull them together or tear them apart? Will they overcome their doubts or succumb to the depredations of their Prussian overlords? What kind of people would trade the security of the known for promises of freedom and opportunity? And what is the essence of this United States of America that beckoned them and still beckons others from all the ends of
the earth to its promised shores?
Follow them here on their onerous journey over land and sea and heartache as they dare to seek freedom and fortune far from the meager comforts of home.
"This is an exceptionally detailed story about Polish tenant farmers fleeing the hardships and injustice of their Prussian overseers and conqueror's. The road to freedom and the promised land U.S.A. is fraught with danger, and unknown hurdles which these people must overcome to stay alive, and protect their children and loved ones.
Arriving at the German port of Bremen was thought to be the end of the great adventure, but a sea voyage which Jan Notzon relates with great knowledge and detail, turns out to be a very daunting and heart breaking event. The eventual arrival on the island of Galveston Texas is a huge milestone in these people's lives, so a sequel from Jan would be very welcome as I'm sure so many adventures and life changing events lie ahead. I would highly recommend this book, especially for anyone who's ancestors took this great voyage to the New World during these very terrible times."
"What a great read. Yet again another fantastic book from Jan. I enjoyed this very much. It was interesting to read about the journey from Poland to America and the hardships the emigrants endured along the way. I do hope Jan writes a sequel to this wonderful book. I found the epilogue very moving."
Song for the Forsaken
Returning home to Appalachia from her time in the hospice during her mother’s last few months of life, Mandy MacDaniel brings with her a horrible secret. Having grown up with an alcoholic, frustrated poet father and a mother lost in her own religious world, the only solace in her life is the little sister she raised from birth. But it was the impenetrable faith in their religion that was the foundation of their bond; a faith Mandy has lost and a deed she has committed that goes against all its teachings.
Can the bi-racial caregiver Mandy once knew as a child who mysteriously disappeared and has now returned heal the rift between the two sisters?
Will Mandy’s hellfire and damnation preacher grandfather allow her to try?
The final explosive confrontation between the two sisters will determine all. Can one maintain one’s faith in light of such suffering and injustice in the world? Can a relationship persist when one is torn between loyalty to one’s religious beliefs and love of the person who has been sister, mother-figure, sage and counselor but who has now renounced her faith? All is revealed in “Song For The Forsaken”.
"I really enjoyed this book. The plot and characters are very good. I liked the way the story is told from different perspectives. It was interesting to read about how "Moonshine" is made! This is a story of love, hate, loss, religion and hope, set in the Appalachian Mountains. I really like the cover and the title of the book. Yet again a great book from Jan and I can't wait till his next one comes out!"
The Id Paradox
After disastrous experiences as a lawyer and then as a teacher, Jake Kazmareck tries to hide out from the world in a job picking melons on a farm in the wilds of south Texas.
An estranged friend, Connors, tracks him down with news that their mutual bosom buddy, Artie, is not dead as they both believed, but rotting in a Mexican prison. The stage is set for Artie’s rescue.
Jake, Connors and Artie’s friendship was forged years earlier, during an almost fatal canoe trip in which only Artie’s genius for survival kept them alive. That brush with death unleashed a primitive beast in Jake that has never stopped plaguing him.
The prison rescue is successful, but Artie’s experiences in captivity have destroyed his spirit. Jake and Connors immediately enlist the help of psychiatrist Judith Neuwirth to try to piece together Artie’s shattered self.
In the process, Jake is again confronted by the beast in himself. Will he learn to accommodate it, or will it destroy him?
"Brilliant. An intelligent, thought provoking book. The plot and characters are fantastic. This is a gripping read, powerful and at times very sad. I was sorry when it came to an end. Another amazing book from Jan. Highly Recommended."
"This compelling story is a must read! Interesting characters caught up in an incredible, dangerous adventure. I couldn't put the book down!"
"Written in a poetic way with a flawless description of the scenery and activities as they occur, the book can easily hold the readers’ attention in an addictive way by making you to feel at home with the thought process of the main character. The Id Paradox is packed with suspense, emotion and actions to keep one entertained and flipping through the pages till the very last!"
And Ye Shall Be as Gods
Who is responsible?
In his quest to find the author of his beloved little-sister's retreat from the world into darkness and despair, Jacob Kazmareck must confront evils past and present.
From his abandoned career as a public defender, to teaching high school in the wilds of the South Bronx, he finally finds his way home to the border city of his youth. There, he discovers a curious connection between the devils that hound his dear sister and his lost love.
In one final gut-wrenching episode of self-discovery, he finds the evil he seeks in a most unexpected and astonishing place.
"A haunting book with a story that makes the reader examine his or her own life as well as the life of the protagonist. The book is about a man, the trauma his sister is going through and his way of helping her. It is also about the man's love interest and her secret. All things are woven together in a delicious story."
The gripping coming-of-age story of Jason Kelly: the demons his upbringing in a backwater Mexican border town in the 1950s instills in him, his desperate search for fulfillment, and his one consistent solace, Kathryn.
As he grows into a young man, he first must navigate the wild-eyed idealism of university life in the '60s. Then, his odyssey takes him to the raw, frenetic power of New York City to pursue an acting career and the fame that he hopes might quiet the fiends that torment him. Never forgotten is the soothing comfort of Kathryn.
To his astonishment, he finally finds the answer he seeks in the home he had abandoned, and the lonely howl of the dogs that once serenaded him to sleep.
"Anyone who grew up on the Mexican border will relate to this book immediately. Those who have not will find a wonderfully descriptive story of life on the border, which is unlike any other in the United States. As the main character, Jason, grows up and leaves to follow his dreams in New York City, the story takes a darker turn. I found this book very compelling. It's hard to put down. I highly recommend it."
"This was a great book! I could hardly put it down! Loved it."
"What an interesting and unusual novel. From the start you are aware what is going to happen but it does not detract from enjoying the book. I must admit I found it quite sad in parts and I am sure there are a lot of people who can identify with Jason (the main character) and all of his self doubt and demons. It was refreshing to read such a well written book. I found it quite thought provoking. Highly recommended."