Reviews By Prominent Authors & Critics

“BY THE WAYSIDE is the first book in English since Cheever’s Journals I’ve read from the first page to the last. The book, like a person, is a pleasure to be with. Human emotions are treated here as strong, and beautiful, and fierce creatures from the jungle of our life and that makes them live and scary.”

— Igor Yefimov (Andrei Moscovit in samizdat) Scientist, historian, philosopher, novelist and publisher. Author of more than 20 books, including Metapolitika and The Seventh Wife

“Jeff Putnam has a distinctive voice, a strong sense of place and a fine ear for dialogue. It is very difficult to be truly original in a space previously occupied by Lawrence, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Updike, Roth, etc., but since he has the skills, the pacing and voice, I am rooting for him.”

— Robert M. Scotto Editor and contributor, The Contemporary American Novel: Essays in Criticism

“BY THE WAYSIDE is a well-written piece of fiction, full of color, especially with regard to the Barcelona setting. It reads like an expatriate novel of the 20s, but sexually more explicit than any American writing in those days, with the exception of Henry Miller... A ‘good read...’”

— John Kuehl Author of John Hawkes and the Craft of Conflict

By the Wayside

By Jeff Putnam

Gordon Bancroft is a journeyman opera singer living in Barcelona with a woman he’s not sure he loves, Elena, who is about to have his child.

Elena wants him to give up singing and help to raise their child in the California home of her ultra-conservative, well-off parents. Bancroft’s unshakable belief in himself and stubborn refusal to accept conventional strategies combine to produce comic situations as harrowing as Don Quixote’s.

Singing to survive as one of a ragtag army of buskers, clowns and magicians, Gordon is hired right off the street for roles at the Liceu, Barcelona’s world-famous opera house. Still, he is kept off-balance by an international cast of marginals and bohemians. Amorous dalliances spin out of control. Attempts to be the kind of man he thinks Elena wants him to be are doomed to hilarity. When he finally reaches the top his circumstances are more precarious than ever and he is afraid for his life.

BY THE WAYSIDE recounts a battle royal between arch exponents of two worlds that cannot be reconciled. It is a battle that anyone can understand who has been torn between a responsibility to the best in oneself and a responsibility to afford the best for a child or loved one. Here that battle is waged on terrain few Americans have explored.

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Other Novels By This Author


About the author

Born in New York and educated mostly in New England and California, Jeff Putnam traveled extensively throughout his life, working professionally as a singer, with periods of settlement in France and Spain. In Europe he sang in opera houses and was successful busking in cafes and on the streets. After a trip to Dallas, Texas, to be with two children of his second wife he met Jane Howle, also a writer, and married her. Ms. Howle saw promise in four books (among many) that Putnam had written about his life, and published them under a new imprint called Baskerville Publishers (after a family name) which went on to publish more than fifty books by promising or neglected authors like her new husband. Putnam worked for her as editor-in-chief under a different name (Samuel Chase) throughout the 90s. Health issues forced the sale of Baskerville to a Fort Worth businessman but when Putnam recovered he continued to run it from 2000 to 2004, and then began publishing with his own imprint (Avenue Publishers). From 2003 the couple have dwelt off and on in Canada, where Putnam has sung with Opera New Brunswick and given concerts in New Brunswick and Maine (in 2003 he was Colline in a production of La Bohème by Maine Grand Opera; in 2007 he had a part in an Opera New Brunswick performance of La Traviata). He and his wife now reside in Dallas close by their son Samuel and Christian, a son by another marriage. Putnam has daughters in Florida and Belgium. His Belgian daughter, Justine, ran a restaurant for some years in Antwerp and now runs a company that translates and edits books for Belgian authors. Jeff and Jane are now contemplating retirement in West Texas after Jane has built her dream house there of hemp-lime construction (see Abner DDAY).