Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I first met David Nicholson when we were both students at Federal City College, in courses on Criticism and in Caribbean Literature. David was also one of the editors of the school's literary mag, Slave Speaks, where we both published some of our first writings.

Now, I'm happy to report, here is David's first book of fiction, to be released next month by Rick Peabody's Paycock Press.

After graduating from FCC, by then rechristened the University of the District of Columbia, David went on to earn an MFA at Iowa. Upon his return he founded the Black Film Review and began publishing his fiction in journals. For many years he was on the editorial staff of the Washington Post Book World.

But back when we first met, he was working at a record store in NorthWest D.C., living in a nearby apartment. We were both working students (I suspect most of the FCC students were in that time), but what really brought us together was a nearly obsessive interest in literary arts and in music.

Both of those early obsessions find their way into Nicholson's fiction, and his work has been quietly recognized over the years by discerning readers. Open the leaf of this first volume and you'll find blurbs from E. Ethelbert Miller, James Alan McPherson, Henry Louis Gates, Arnold Rampersad, Sara Henry, and that's on top of the blurb from Charles Johnson that graces the back cover.

Back in my school days, Constance Green published a book with Princeton titled The Secret City: A History of Race Relations in the Nation's Capital. If you read or watch much media coverage of D.C., you'll quickly see that the life of the nation's capital is still largely a secret, often even from the people who move to the city to serve in government. But that inner life of the capital is a secret to them because they will it to be so. 

Nicholson's book gives us the lives that enliven that unrepresented space. That said, this is not reportage. These stories are wonderfully imagined projections out of the daily; like Miles, David has written what the day recommends.

Among my favorites, "Saving Jimi Hendrix," which appeared in an earlier Paycock Press collection, Kiss the Sky. Among all the other things this story does, it returns us to the author's "lost city" where he is "always 16," an alternate universe informing our own.

You can preorder this wonderful book by clicking here.

1 comment:

David Nicholson said...

Thanks, Al. I, too, remember those days at FCC and talking about Jazz at Record & Tape, Ltd. Good times!