Robert Wintner Books
Here are style and action in literary symbiosis—tropical panache working with the adventure you may long for, leading to a greater good. Some of these are a bit tart, with smutty scenes that lead to redemption but may warp impressionable young minds along the way.
Not to worry if you’re already formulated and stable.
*Robert Wintner is the nom de plume (et la guerre) of Snorkel Bob, Himself.
The titles below are newest to oldest with synopses and comments:
Reefdog (Yucca Publishing, NY, 2016)
The video here is a synopsis and two readings of the first pages and an early action scene. Here are some comments from notable readers:
“REEFDOG plays beautifully on a rift. Many an eco-activist battles with this dilemma until forced to make a stand. Robert Wintner captures the conflict with very real presence in this intricately crafted exotic tale. A simple story of life told through challenge and triumph in one of nature’s cathedrals… the reef.”
—Peter Jay Brown, Director: Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist
“My head is usually above the clouds but Reefdog drew me to the mysteries of reef currents and creatures and the adventures of those who dive on them.”
—Ben Zuckerman, Physics & Astronomy professor at UCLA, focused on the birth and death of stars and planetary systems and intelligent life in the Universe .
“Reefdog is a classic. Once picked up, you can’t put it down. A great read for your next vacation or weekend getaway.”
—George Pierce, Principal, George R. Pierce & Ass., LLC, A top 100 Financial Advisor in the US (Independent Investment Advisors Magazine)
“Robert Wintner is witty and smart, and so is his new book, Reefdog. It’s a unique combo for adventure. The writing is compelling and shows his vast experience and insight to today’s reef world.”
—Paula Fouce, author and filmmaker of Not in God’s Name: Making Sense of Religious Conflict, and No Asylum: The Untold Chapter of Anne Frank’s Story.
“I loved Reefdog for its action and insights to reef life and ocean challenges. This story captures a reality that most will never glimpse but now they can love it for all it is worth. Romance and honest action on the high seas read so well for me.”
––Mike Long, Operations Director, Parley for the Oceans, NY, AU
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A California Closing (Yucca Publishing, NY, 2016)
Used-car magnate Michael Mulroney never set out to be heroic. He lives at the top, on instinct and will. Insolvency is not the same as poverty; poverty is for poor people, and a man of proven skill is not poor. Challenge is only part of life—fickle markets, low-ballers, name droppers, fitness nuts, sexual molestation charges, real estate women, and the ten-percent grade up Hazel Dell on a bicycle four days in a row—at sixty!
Samson slew the philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Michael Mulroney measures a mark for front-end warmth, background development, schmoozing up and hosing down. Soon he’ll show his inner Samson, and swing away for keeps.
If the ledger won’t balance, give it a while. It only needs some hustle and judicious phone calls. That’s the difference between a bum and a California Closer.
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1969 & Then Some
a Post 60s Grand Tour in Life-Defining Parable for Those Who Remember & Those Who Can’t
(September, 2014, Yucca Publishing, NY) is a memoir from a 60’s veteran who still feels the influence and sway and oh, the fun.
1969 was that pivotal year for the baby boomers. Young and innocent, they were given the ultimate freedoms and were faced with growing up.
This touching, hilarious memoir is the true story of a late sixties grand tour of Europe—a life-defining parable, for those who remember and for those who can’t. Never before and not since have a handful of seasons so exquisitely defined the difference between right and wrong. With the gift of youth they saw, sensed, and savored the laughably clear distinction between profit motive and greed, between truth and propaganda, between national interest and defense contractors, between a lovely cloud of smoke and the smoke of napalm, and between the phantoms of security and the dangers of complacency and atrophy.
Stoned to the gills and then some, these adventurers saw and felt and knew things that no generation before did. Some fully engaged in the counterculture while others merely observed, sticking a left foot in, pulling a left foot out, but not quite jumping to the full hokeypokey.
It was an incredible time of self-discovery, of love, and of finding out what you were made of.
Order 1969 & Then Some
(Spring, 2015, from Yucca Publishing, NY)
Nine million Americans are touched by aneurysms during their lifetime. This is one story of love.
Brainstorm is the candid and powerful memoir of the author’s harrowing experience of an aneurysm and his road to recovery. It is a journey of love, devotion, and a clash of medical beliefs and countercultures. The fierce resolve of the author and his wife is extraordinary, inspiring, and matched only by the tremendous competence and care of the medical system—one to which the author initially stands in opposition, but that he later learns to admire and respect.
This book is for anyone who has experienced the fear and difficulties of a major illness. The themes, truths, and above all, the compassion that this book shares will be familiar not just to the nine million Americans affected by aneurysms, but to anyone whose family has been touched by a medical trauma. Filled with raw emotion, Brainstorm affords quiet but powerful support to those suffering similar circumstances and strives to tell them that they are not alone.
Reef Libre, an In-Depth Look at Cuban Exceptionalism & the Last Best Reefs in the World (2015, Rowman & Littlefield, Philadelphia)
REEF LIBRE is not a travelogue but asks the big questions after a lifetime of isolation…can Cuba reefs still thrive? Nearly 400 stills,a compelling narrative and a DVD capture this delicate time in reef history. REEF LIBRE, the Movie, is a mini-documentary, capturing this pivotal time, from the streets to the reefs. View flip-page samples
Decades of isolation from tourism and development have left Cuba’s coral reefs among the most pristine in the world, an “exceptionalism” stands in stark contrast to the island nation’s poverty and political situation. Famed diver/photographer Robert “Snorkel Bob” Wintner showcases these magnificent reefs with his astounding underwater images, while also capturing terrestrial life in the cities and villages of the island nation. Watch Trailer
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In a Sweet Magnolia Time
(2006, The Permanent Press, Sag Harbor, NY)
This historical novel based on actual characters and settings was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. It follows the evolving contrition of a landed blueblood from cross-burning racism, to alcoholism and beyond to middle age, where he discovers love and rediscovers his home.
In a Sweet Magnolia Time rings with authenticity—and not just with language. Wintner’s insights speak of intimate, ingrained, firsthand knowledge of Southern culture with its almost incomprehensible (certainly peculiar) racial dynamics and comedy of manners that overarch all behavior. And the humor—so often sharp, unexpected, hilarious at times, even—is so disarming. To realize only in the final pages that we have read this story from the perspective of an eighty-two-year-old man looking back on his journey makes his earlier shortcomings and searching even more poignant, more comprehensible, more understandable as a product of the human condition. —Gloria Randle, former professor of African American Literature at Michigan State University.
Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing
(2002, The Permanent Press, Sag Harbor, NY)
Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing is a bit unusual, pushes the envelope, and engenders discussion. The material is definitely adult, but with a sense of innocence carrying through to unusual conclusions. The plot is good, the settings excellent, and the characterization and dialogue superb. We rated this a high 4 hearts.
—Bob Spear, Publisher and Chief Reviewer, Heartland Reviews
Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing is the story of two brothers: Antonio, a gregarious gigolo, and Baldo, a dysfunctional mute who loves nature. Both work at a resort hotel, as does Lyria, betrothed to Antonio yet drawn to silent Baldo. In the tangle is a murder on the beach and extrication, Mexican style. Exotic location, beautiful people, sex, and murder: another winning combination from The Permanent Press! But the writing is what makes this story blossom: it’s incredibly sensual and lyrical, lush and languid, like the tropics themselves. Altogether Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing is an easy, pleasing read for the mind and senses. –Sanford J. Greenburg Associates Scouting Report
A saucy tale of a distinctive pair of brothers at a seaside resort with wild and lively escapades. —Kirkus Reviews
The transitions in point of view are deft and impressive, and the characterizations are successful; Wintner (Homunculus) endows his hotel workers with telling perceptions. With Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing, Wintner succeeds in creating a roguish, self-absorbed protagonist who becomes increasingly likeable in the company of his peers and the context of his times.
—Edward Keane, Long Island University, Brooklyn, NY, for The Library Journal
Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing blends plenty of escapism with a dash of social consciousness. It’s a formula that has served Wintner well before in Homunculus, The Prophet Pasqual and other novels set in exotic vacation locales; here again he provides sex, lush description of beautiful places and a peek into the machinery that makes such places work. —Publisher’s Weekly.
Author’s note: the reviews, comments, promo et al ad nauseum on most books is a direct function of the academic/literary complex: bullshit and worse. Toucan Whisper, Toucan Sing is my favorite fictional outing of all my tries at this form–maybe because it’s simply the most fun.
The Prophet Pasqual
(1999, The Permanent Press, Sag Harbor, NY)
The Prophet Pasqual follows three middle-age men, lost souls, seeking. They meet while studying martial arts and see the common bond, fortitude for good fortune. Ed McGuy, a simple, giant-sized sunyasin feels the calling to be a guru. Richie Smith, an alcoholic, tough guy bartender, aspires to blues guitar. Ray Lloyd, a reformed pot grower and successful tree farmer cannot seem to connect with women. The solution for one and all: show biz on the cosmic circuit. The Prophet Pasqual is great Hawaii romp with keen insights on the cash cottage industry in spiritual services.
The Prophet Pasqual follows an aspiring guru in Hawaii’s other tourist industry. The characters presented here blossom mightily. In the tradition of Algren and Bukowski, on the mean streets with mordant humor, here is the other side of Paradise, far from postcard pretty, showing the heat, dust, racism and magic of Hawaii. —Martin Shepard, Publisher, The Permanent Press
The Modern Outlaws
(2000, I Universe) is a motorcycle novel optioned for film rights in LA.
Robert Wintner paints his imagery with a fine, fresh brush. His style and intelligence transcend genre, and The Modern Outlaws is not so much an excellent biker novel as an excellent novel that happens to be populated with bikers. When you’ve finished the book—which you will—you’ll probably consider it brilliant. I did. Very highly recommended. —Terry Roorda, Thunder Press
(2000, Permanent Press, Sag Harbor, NY)
Homunculus is a story of down-and-outers in the tradition of Charles Bukowski or Graham Greene, dealing with an expatriate American community in a small Mexican town. Polite society allows escape from cultural priorities in America—corruption and obscenity. They assume freedom but find themselves corrupted in different ways. Along the way is a great deal of dark humor, love and social observation of the ex-pats and the Mexicans whose town they live in. Wintner captures the life with a perfect ear and eye. —Martin Shepard, Publisher, The Permanent Press
Lonely Hearts, Changing Worlds
(2001, The Permanent Press, Sag Harbor, NY) Lonely Hearts, Changing Worlds is a collection of love stories for modern times. Lonely souls seek communion in secret places. Crab bait may not sound lovely, but romance is where you find it. Whether sorting chicken guts, visiting Death Row, bouncing off the turnbuckles or gazing out a window on the 9th floor for thirty years, these apparently loveless venues show that every heart longs for love. Here is a romp in the hay, a yodel in the dark or under the Kliegs. Success is measured in other eyes recognizing the unique character before them. —Publisher’s Weekly
(1995, Edward R. Smallwood)
Horndog Blue tracks a man drifting through life as its spectacular perspective shrinks—until he meets a golden dream. A younger woman can bring back the heat, hunger and hopefulness of youth with the mobility only a man of seasoning and means can provide. They set off to explore Europe, discovering instead the irreconcilable difference that twenty years make. Abandoned by his young love, he must face his own capacity for self-decpetion, or face a future as empty as the ache in his chest. Horndog Blue is the searing portrait of a man stuck in flawed dreams, written by a master storyteller. It is a book not only about lust but also about love, vibrant women and a satyr on a journey of discovery.
(1996, Edward R. Smallwood)
Darkly comic, deeply ironic, these stories are a compelling chronical. Wintner’s eccentric (to say the least) characters and circumstances, in settings from South Carolina to Paris, Southern Indiana to Los Angeles, are arranged in three sections; “Animals,” “Love” and “Animal Love.” The collection opens with the metaphoric title story, in which Hagan, a weimaraner, goes on trial for murder after he plays a little too rough with a French poodle. The trial gets heavy media attention and attracts politicians seeking the spotlight. Although “Snapdragon” is ultimately about two cousins who enter a retired, half-blind racehorse in the annual Cup race, it starts with the two carefully watching marked down pork. “It’s a known fact that if you buy grocery store pork marked down twice for quick sale, unwrap it and circle it and leave it on the kitchen counter, it will move out of the circle in less than an hour.” In another story, “Cousins,” the county coroner describes a local murder and comes close to realizing that it probably involves his own family. Closing out the collection are two touching stories of devoted cat owners. Wintner has a masterful touch, drawing his readers into each life with wit, irony and traditional story telling of the sort you’d hear rocking on an old front porch. —Publishers Weekly
Hagan’s Trial presents a fine set of short stories revolving around varied lives in this fine collection of absorbing writing. —Midwest Book Review
The Ice King
a memoir (1995, Edward R.Smallwood)
Robert Wintner, in a narrative voice at once powerful and lyrical, passionate and graceful, creates The Ice King as a steadfast and comforting presence in the life of a man whose childhood was forever altered by his father’s death and his own subsequent loss of place. Torn from the forests and lakes of rural Indiana, he is thrust into the split-level reality of suburban St. Louis. The Ice King is magic, and so is this story. —Diane Donovan, The Book Watch
The Ice King reveals that sometimes it takes blood, sweat and tears to gain a sense of self. The story ends optimistically; the adolescent comes to accept and appreciate the spirit his father imbued in him. This poignant tale with a cutting edge shows how walking through one’s worst fears can lead to deeper self-understanding. By the time I finished reading The Ice King I felt moved by the gripping realism and inspired by the protagonist’s spirit of survival.
—Peter Robinson, The Commuter Times of San Francisco
Wintner fleshes out The Ice King with humor, warmth and insight. We have one warning: Don’t read The Ice King in a hushed library—we tried, until waves of laughter rolled up and exploded… Wintner is hilarious, but underneath the hilarity, he serves the message. —The Indianapolis News
Wintner offers remarkably strong characters and developments…with broad stretches of gourmet reading. The narrator’s sharp, laconic wit, the fine portraits of the skewed family and in-laws, the fluid slaloming from past to present, and the occasional nugget of contemplative hindsight that rings like a solid brass bell are some of the author’s considerable strengths. Wintner has an obvious and large talent for storytelling and characterization. —Rappaport Magazine
(1994, Edward R. Smallwood)
Vivid passages depicting harrowing open-sea crossings…dead-on cameos of tourists from the mainland. —Publishers Weekly NOTE: PG 23, this one, so fasten your seatbelts & prepare to blush. NOT for the faint-hearted of any age.
Whirlaway was a HOT PICK at the Maui County Library for many years and was under option for film rights in Los Angeles.
But wait! There’s still more!
Besides this sumptuous oeuvre of narrative flamboyance, here come the fishes!
In 4 volumes*, Himself grants immersion and deep penetration on cold-blooded society with personal contact, fishy family values and more, including portraiture of a personal nature.
*3 done and shown here. 1 coming in 2015 and also shown here.
Some Fishes I Have Known
(2010, Skyhorse Publications, NY) focuses on the reef as a social order, where the fish see, feel and know.
Every other fish guide available views fish in cold-blooded objectivity, separating the data from its soulful source. Yet any human ever facing a curious fish has sensed communion.
Some Fishes I Have Known strives to share what the title implies, familiarity with some fish—in some cases acquaintance, and in rare examples, friendship.
The book is colorful and based in action, with insight to the lives and homes of reef fish, while pointing out a dark undercurrent now sweeping reefs clean around the world, the aquarium trade. Hawaii supplies 80% of all fish in U.S. aquaria, and many more fish for Europe and China.
Underwater is under the radar for this devastating commercial extraction with no regulation, no catch limit, no limit on the number of catchers and no protection for rare or endemic species.
The free-for-all devastation is “managed” by the State of Hawaii. Global consensus is now inclined to stop the destruction.
Some Fishes I Have Known informs on a critical issue while introducing the key players—the good guys—with panache and sympathy. The narrative is playfullyet powerful, succinctly sweet and painfully stringent.
The subject and photos are fresh, innovative and of fundamental importance.
Every Fish Tells a Story
(2011, Skyhorse Publications, NY) broadens horizons from Hawaii to include th Great Barrier Reef, St. Croix (USVI) and Tahiti. 1st Animals, Animals, Animals Book Festival, Every Fish Tells a Story elucidates a few personal narratives from the fishy point of view. Hundreds of compelling shots grant insight to marine species and habitat—and to fishy feelings that may well influence your diet.
(2012, Skyhorse Publications, NY) for wilderness values. The indomitable spirit is azure clear on pristine reefs, or it rages in heavy weather. Neptune loves fish in abundance but scoffs at “sustainability” and “best management practices.” Who do they think they are, these self-proclaimed stewards of Neptune’s clan who would put ocean communities on life support to ensure cash flow? Measured survival falls short of optimal balance. Wilderness abides by no extraction. Indigenous peoples may participate in the food chain, but commercial extraction is a compromise to wilderness, a risk calculated for profit. Reef survival becomes a by-catch, maybe, with the end of abundance a certainty.
Neptune Speaks is thick with compelling shots of marine habitat and species from Fiji, Hawaii, Palau, the Great Reef and Tahiti.
Also from Neptune Speaks: One aquarium trade reporter complained of no balanced dialogue on a ban in Hawaii. An aquarium magazine said I, Snorkel Bob’m to blame. Said I, Snorkel Bob: “Balanced dialogue? On one side you have 99.7% of the people of Hawaii. Let’s call that side a very big, shaggy dog. On the other side you have a handful of collectors—we’ll call them the fleas on the shaggy dog’s ass. You’re suggesting that a big shaggy dog engage the fleas on his ass to determine just how much longer and how much blood those fleas will be allowed to suck. The problem is: no self-respecting dog will engage the fleas on his ass in any kind of dialogue. That dog will scratch his ass to get rid of the fleas.”
I thought the imagery vivid and effective, providing a good laugh for all parties. Can you feel the razor wit and rapier insight? But again, tsk tsk—they thought I’d called them blood-sucking parasites. Maybe they are sensitive. I hope so.
With apologies and contrition I have pledged to avoid the dog/flea illustration in the future with sincere hope that the aquarium collectors and resellers will jump off. –Snorkel Bob, Himself