Portraits and Ashes: a novel

I’m recommending Portraits & Ashes by John Pistelli to every avid reader. The bounce between characters, the riveting suspense, the unexpectedness of pure pleasurable literature… That’s what makes John special. Simply unputdownable.
—Gabriel Opare, author of The Face of Poverty Is Black & Other Poems

Reading [Portraits and Ashes] is like following a well-marked and yet unfamiliar winding path—the footing is sure, but it’s impossible to guess what’s around each corner…everything I hunger for in a novel.
—Craig Conley, author of One-Letter Words: A Dictionary

Julia is an aspiring painter without money or direction, haunted by a strange family history. Mark is a successful architect who suddenly finds himself unemployed with a baby on the way. Alice is a well-known artist and museum curator disgraced when her last exhibit proved fatal. Running from their failures, this trio is drawn toward a strange new cult that seeks to obliterate the individual—and which may be the creation of a mysterious and dangerous avant-garde artist.

John Pistelli unforgettably portrays three people desperate to lead meaningful lives as they confront the bizarre new institutions of a fraying America. A suspenseful and poetic novel in the visionary tradition of Don DeLillo, David Mitchell, Kazuo Ishiguro, and José Saramago, Portraits and Ashes is a scorching picture of our troubled age.

Portraits and Ashes is available for sale in print and ebook formats through Amazon, and it is listed on Goodreads as well. I am happy to offer free pdfs of the ebook in exchange for honest reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, or your personal blog or website. If you’re interested, please contact me at johnppistelli at gmail.com. For an expanded description, see here.


The Ecstasy of Michaela: a novella (Valhalla Press, 2012), $2.99

The Ecstasy of Michaela is available in Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes formats, as well as in Norway via Digitalbok.no. Click here for an audio interview with John Pistelli about the novella.


“White Girl” (The Amaranth Review, 2016)

“Sweet Angry God” (Writing Raw, 2015)

“Iconoclasm” (The Harpoon Review, 2015)

“They Are in the Truth” (The Stockholm Review of Literature, 2015)

“The Embrace” (Winter Tangerine Review, 2014)

“Terminal Girls” (The Squawk Back, 2014)

“How People Live” (Revolver, 2012)

“Fools Like Me” (Whole Beast Rag, 2012)

“Mine” (The Legendary, 2009)


“Death’s Door; Or, European Cinema” (Muse / A Journal, 2016)

“An Incarnation” (Atomic: A Journal of Short Poetry, 2015)


“Nothing Is at Stake: On Shakespeare, Lana Del Rey, and the Relatable” (The Millions, August 2014)

“The Strange Lanes of Hell: Against Materialist Anti-Aesthetics” (Ragnarok, Vol I:1, Winter 2013)

“Gabriel Josipovici and the Burden of Modernism” (New Walk, Vol I:2, Spring 2011)

“Change, Change, Change: Sandman and the ’90s”


“On Ryan Spahr’s Post-Paranoia” (displayed at Little Amps Coffee Roasters in Harrisburg, PA, in January 2013)


David B., Nocturnal Conspiracies

Mikita Brottman, Thirteen Girls

Donald F. Bouchard, Hemingway: So Far from Simple & Robert Zaretzsky, Albert Camus: Elements of a Life

Eddie Campbell, Alec: The Years Have Pants

Ross Campbell, Wet Moon

Lili Carré, The Lagoon

William Giraldi, Hold the Dark

Mel Gordon and Thomas Andrae, Siegel and Shuster’s Funnyman: The First Jewish Superhero from the Creators of Superman

Juliet Koss, Modernism After Wagner

Jon Lewis, True Swamp: Choose Your Poison

Alan Moore et al., Saga of the Swamp Thing

Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar, ed., The Harlem Renaissance Revisited

Marcus Pactor, Vs. Death Noises

Camille Paglia, Glittering Images: A Journey Through Art from Egypt to Star Wars

Peter Y. Paik, From Utopia to Apocalypse: Science Fiction and the Politics of Catastrophe

Marisha Pessl, Night Film

R. Sikoryak, Masterpiece Comics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s