Ordering "The Ash Tree - a novel"

To order this novel, please email the publisher at connect@westofwestcenter.org or find it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Show of paintings by Jeanette Arax Melnick - a video and a Plain Dealer news article about her December show

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Beachwood artist explores Armenia, geometry, Sid Vicious and folk art in exhibit

[Here's a link to the YouTube video of Jeanette's show:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40YY0m6yyaw ]


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Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick, who will exhibit her works at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. (John Petkovic/The Plain Dealer)
John Petkovic, The Plain DealerBy John Petkovic, The Plain Dealer 
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on December 03, 2015 at 2:15 PM, updated December 03, 2015 at 2:35 PM
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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Art is always personal. But it goes beyond that in the case of Jeanette Arax Melnick.
Yes, there is a personal side in works by the Beachwood artist, who will exhibit her paintings at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library during the month of December.
(The show opens at 2 p.m. Sunday at the library, 25501 Shaker Blvd, Cleveland. For more info, go to cuyahogalibrary.org/Branches/Beachwood.aspx or call 216-831-6868.)
You can see it in "The Quince Tree," a work that was inspired by a photo of her and her father, taken when she was a little girl, in 1946. The photo is in the work itself, along with photos of her grandchildren, children and husband.
But her relationship with the world is as much spatial one – in which she absorbs aspects of it through the senses or through patterns rather than just the heart or mind.
"Sometimes I just look at the world and see all these geometric shapes and I see aspects of my paintings in them," says Arax Melnick. "Like right now I'm sitting in a room looking at pillows or I could be looking at an oriental carpet and finding interesting patterns."
There is little pattern when it comes to divining the Fresno, Ca. native's style – which shoehorns folk art and "museum type art," as she likes to say.
"Art was always my companion and I never sought out to follow a particular style or painter," she says. "I started to study painting at (University of California, Berkley), but I switched to history because I realized that I wanted to be my own painter."
She delved into medieval history, along with the "flatness" found in its art.  She has created in the shadows of a family history that extends back to the Armenian genocide of 1915 – which led to her family settling in California.
"Armenian history is very complicated, especially with Turkey denying the genocide of 1.5 million Armenians," says Arax Melnick, whose husband Daniel Melnick recently released a novel that honors the memory of the genocide. "And yet that complication has given me a feeling for the suffering of all mankind."
"As a child, I was inspired looking at old Armenian manuscripts and seeing these people with big brown eyes and soulful looks," she adds. "They look like they've suffered and yet survive and go on."
Sid Vicious -- the English punk from a much later time, 1970s London – captivated her in a very different way.
zz art 2 lowres.jpg"Sid Vicious," one of works by Jeanette Arax Melnick that will be on display at the Beachwood Branch of the Cuyahoga County Public Library. 
"I never listened to his music, though I know Aaron and Lennie have," says Arax Melnick, referring to her sons, co-founders of legendaryCleveland hardcore band Integrity. "I just loved his face and the zippers."
For years, the painting hung at the old Arabica on Coventry. Arax Melnick received a number of offers for it, but chose to hold onto it.
"It's hard to give up on that Sid Vicious," she says. "I've never looked at the money side of it."
It's all matter of perspective, even when it comes to art.
"I tend to avoid perspective and I think it's given my work a certain character," she says. "I'll have a table that looks like it's floating and could see it as an illusion, but to me it's just how I see it and see the world. So I guess you could say the world is an illusion, too."

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Video of Eskejian Museum reading from The Ash Tree

Here's a link to the YouTube video of the presentation of and reading from "The Ash Tree" at L.A.'s Eskejian Museum (with my thanks to the museum and to Maggie):

A book reading and conversation with author, Daniel Melnick - a professor emeritus of english at cleaveland state university and moderator Mark Arax
YOUTUBE.COM

Monday, August 17, 2015

article on Beachwood reading for "The Ash Tree" plus two readers' reviews on Amazon

There is an article in the August issue of the Beachwood, Ohio, city magazine about my reading/presentation of "The Ash Tree" on June 15. It was, amazingly, a capacity crowd in the Beachwood Library hall there (the librarian said about 100 people). Here's the article:
Here are two readers' reviews from Amazon:

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
“The Ash Tree” is a compelling, beautifully-rendered story of the Ararat family of Fresno. A firm, opinionated woman stands as its matriarch. Artistic sensibilities secure its core.

As a mother and grandmother, Artemis Ararat admits she doesn’t know it all. “Who truly were the people she loved?” she asks. What was her responsibility in understanding them? What was her responsibility to herself?

These questions are pertinent to every family. Not every family is brave enough to ask them.

A family grows strong by maneuvering through its layers: the mechanics of everyday life weighed against an individual’s deepest dreams. Proximity of fate is rarely enough. Personalities must be respected and conflicts negotiated, spirited by an unfailing love.

If a family is fortunate, its vulnerabilities will be tempered by its strengths. “The Ash Tree” shows how parents and children can lean together through triumph and tragedy, hands joined in good faith, to treasure the sum of its parts.
Comment  Was this review helpful to you?  YesNo
Format: Kindle Edition
This remarkable family drama begins 100 years ago in the midst of the Armenian Genocide. We see the evolution of the Ararats as they evolve from Armenian-American newcomers struggling to grab a foothold in the parched California landscape to fully realized Americans, less hyphenated, but still grappling with the kinds of problems that beset families no matter the time or location. We feel the pull of the Old World even as the younger generation strives for the prosperity, success and freedom afforded by America. We witness intense interpersonal conflicts and nuanced devotion between the main characters- conflicts and devotion that are mirrored by the passion of many for Armenia and by others for the promise of a new life in America. And we experience the pain of loss from the shattering tragedy that threatens to destroy all they have worked for. The characters are unforgettable, the language is melodious, the history is compelling.
Comment  Was this review helpful to you?  YesNo


Monday, July 27, 2015

"The Ash Tree" now generally available.

"The Ash Tree" is now available to libraries and independent bookstores through Baker & Taylor, and I hope you'll encourage your local library and indie bookstore to order it!

Here again is a brief summary: "The Ash Tree" (ISBN 9780981854762) tells a timeless story of the romance and marriage between an American Armenian girl and her immigrant husband who survived the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey. 

In the aftermath of the Genocide from the twenties to the early seventies, the couple and their three children become vivid, quintessentially American characters, only for tragedy to find them again, echoing the staggering loss of 1915. 

Its cover painting with its frayed and white-washed frame is by the author’s wife, Jeanette Melnick. Lovingly produced and brilliantly structured to combine history and fictionalized memoir, The Ash Tree is an important, beautifully written novel of survival, new life, and heartbreak.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

a fine notice from the "Armenian Weekly"

Here's the link to a fine notice about The Ash Tree in the "Armenian Weekly:"
http://armenianweekly.com/2015/05/29/new-book-the-ash-tree/

A month ago, on June 15, one hundred people showed up for my reading from the novel at the Beachwood branch of the Cuyahoga Public Library. The hosting librarian said it was a remarkable event, "with so much emotion in the room" and "more books sold" than at any comparable event there. Another Cleveland reading is in the works for September - stay tuned.

Two wonderfully insightful reviews appeared on the Amazon site for The Ash Tree, and we are hoping for more reviews to surface on-line and maybe in newspapers.

For further details, take a look at (and hopefully you'll like) the facebook page for the novel at https://www.facebook.com/theashtreeanovel.

Thanks for everyone's support.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April 14, 2015 Press release about "The Ash Tree"

WEST of WEST Books  
 Press Release
 Contact Mark Arax, 559-432-5447

The Ash Tree, a novel of Genocide and rebirth, launched at a series of West Coast readings  
   A “powerful and beautifully told” novel about one family’s journey out of the Armenian genocide and its rebirth in California has been written by Daniel Melnick, an English professor now teaching at Case Western in Cleveland, who will be presenting the book in a series of West Coast readings this month.
  Titled “The Ash Tree,” the novel is published by West of West Books, an imprint founded by writer Mark Arax. Melnick will present the book at Barnes & Noble in Fresno on April 26 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and also at the Eskijian Museum, Sheen Chapel, in Mission  Hills on April 30th at 7:30 p.m. This event will be a question-and-answer and conversation between Melnick and Arax. A third event will be held May 5 at 7 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble in Emeryville. 
    “Daniel has written a profound book,” Arax said. “It is informed not only by his Jewish family’s own persecution and exile to America but also by the fact that his wife, Jeanette, is an Armenian who grew up in Fresno.

    “With his marriage to Jeanette, Daniel suddenly found himself immersed in a clan of Armenian farmers, writers and poets, Socialists and Capitalists, and football and baseball jocks. How to make sense of them and their traumatic history and the thread of tragedy that only continued for them in America?

    “Out of those questions came this novel, and it is powerful and beautifully told.”

     The Ash Tree is a timeless story of love, regret and love again between Armen Ararat, a survivor of the 1915-1918 Genocide, and a young Armenian-American named Artemis. Armen aspires to be a poet and after hiding in an attic in Istanbul to escape the death marches, he voyages to the U.S. and settles in the sunbaked San Joaquin Valley.

     Armen attends UC Berkeley but is soon being called back to Fresno by the call of the family farm. There, he meets and marries Artemis, who has made her own journey from Connecticut to California. With the demands of family, Armen’s pen goes silent and he becomes a raisin grower only to lose the farm during the Depression. He then returns to the Bay Area with Artemis and their two young sons and baby daughter and becomes a successful grocer.

     As the novel pivots from Turkey to Berkeley to Fresno to San Francisco and then back again to Fresno, the footloose Armen and his family grow into vivid, quintessentially American characters.

    Artemis and her daughter, Juliet, occupy the center of this world otherwise dominated by men. The dynamic, driven mother achieves a force and authority that challenge the limitations of her time and place. The daughter strives to develop into a forceful young woman in her own right, perceptive, artistic, and more at ease within herself than her mother.

    Tigran is the older son – cautious, intense, solid – and Garo is the mercurial and risk-taking younger brother, forcing Tigran to try to protect him more than once against his will. Garo is passionate and charismatic. Large in spirit, he fearlessly embraces life, and he struggles against – yet is baffled by – the recoil of cruelty and evil he encounters.

    The family discovers that America is not the mythologized land of opportunity but is beset by the evils of poverty, war, racism, censorship, drugs, and corruption. The Ararats’ turbulent story reveals universal truths about the struggles of countless families, immigrant and native alike.

    All five members of the Ararat family find their voices here and share telling this epic story of their striving to rise from the ashes of the past. As the family rebounds from the Genocide and its generational trauma, they realize themselves in the fertile yet hostile landscape of Central California, only for tragedy to find the Ararats again.

    The novel’s cover painting with its frayed and white-washed frame is by the author’s wife, Jeanette Melnick. Combining history and fictionalized memoir, The Ash Tree is an important, beautifully written novel of survival, new life and heartbreak. 
        -30-

Thursday, March 12, 2015

New release date for "The Ash Tree"

The Ash Tree - a novel is being published around the April 24th date of the beginning of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Turkey, and this important and beautifully written novel's story focuses on the aftermath of the Genocide for a family of Armenian-Americans, as described in the previous post below.
The publisher has already placed it as a pre-order on Kindle, and the release date for the book itself (as well as for the Kindle edition) is May 15, so it should be available at that time from any Barnes and Noble store or its website, from Amazon.com, and for order from your local bookstore (the inquiry email for independent orders is connect@westofwestcenter.org).

Friday, February 6, 2015

"The Ash Tree - a novel" to be published on April 24, 2015, the hundreth anniversary of the start of the Armenian Genocide

The Ash Tree is a timeless story of the romance between an immigrant and a young American woman. They meet and marry and raise their family in the sunbaked Central Valley of California. Armen Ararat is a poet, a farmer, and then a businessman, who escaped from the nightmarish history of Armenians in Turkey early in the twentieth century. From 1930 to the 1970s, Armen and Artemis, his Armenian-American wife born in Connecticut, raise two sons and a daughter. The Ararats grow into vivid, quintessentially American characters in this powerful and beautifully written novel by Daniel Melnick - for more information about the author go to www.danielmelnick.com 

Artemis and her daughter, Juliet, occupy the center of this world otherwise dominated by men. The dynamic, driven mother achieves a force and authority that challenge the limitations of her time and place. The daughter strives to develop into a forceful young woman in her own right, perceptive, artistic, and more at ease within herself than her mother.

Tigran is the older son – cautious, intense, solid – and Garo is the mercurial and risk-taking younger brother, forcing Tigran to try to protect him more than once against his will. Garo is passionate and charismatic. Large in spirit, he fearlessly embraces life, and he struggles against – yet is baffled by – the recoil of cruelty and evil he encounters. The family discovers that America is not the mythologized land of opportunity but is beset by the evils of poverty, war, racism, censorship, drugs, and corruption. The Ararats’ turbulent story reveals universal truths about the struggles of countless families, immigrant and native alike.

In this novel of survival, new life, and heartbreak, all five members of the Ararat family find their voices here and share telling this epic story of their striving to rise from the ashes of the past. The story moves back and forth among them: the immigrant husband and father, the powerful wife, their daughter, and finally the two sons. As the family rebounds in the aftermath of the genocide of Armenians in 1915, they realize themselves in the fertile yet hostile landscape of Central California, only for tragedy to find the Ararats again.

*                                  *                                  *

Excerpt from The Ash Tree:
“Armen remembered his first days in the fields when he felt the blinding sun blast his consciousness. At night on this reclaimed desert, the temperature dropped from 110 to 70, as the flatland descended into darkness. Suddenly you were almost invisible and bathed in numbing air. It was a blasted desolation you felt, reducing all the life you knew to your body and its basic functioning, breathing and sleeping, eating and excreting, killing or dying. Your mouth was silenced, and your eyes stared blankly at the blackened moonless fields.”

Praise for Daniel Melnick’s Hungry Generations:
The “thoughtful and engaging novel about three musicians…gives a vivid picture of Los Angeles. Against this background, Daniel Melnick depicts a tragic conflict between an old man and his son…For those who know serious music, it will be supremely satisfying.” – Times Literary Supplement

The “poetic story…imagines a master classical pianist named Alexander Petrov …more than combustible: it marks a collision of cultures and worlds.” – Cleveland Plain Dealer