General Fiction

By Carlos Rubio

Publisher : Portilla Publishing

ABOUT Carlos Rubio

Carlos Rubio
A native of Cuba, Carlos Rubio came to the United States in 1961. A bilingual novelist, in Spanish he has writeen Caleidoscopio, Saga, Orisha and Hubris. In 1989 his novel Quadrivium received the Nuevo León International Prize for Novels. In English he is the author of Orpheus’ Blues, S More...



ORPHEUS’ BLUES is a novel of self-discovery. We first meet Jack Stewart on his way back to his apartment in New York City, where he is pursuing a career as a jazz musician.

 As the novel unfolds, we learn of the difficulties he encounters, of the friendship he develops with George, his roommate—also a jazz musician—and the women he meets in the city. But more importantly, we learn of the very close relationship he has with his mother, who writes to him regularly from Southern Virginia. Through these letters and series of flashbacks , we come to understand Jack’s background, the stifling environment he left behind, and his father’s resentment and disappointment that he did not take up the family business.

 But it is Hans, proprietor of The Empty Hand, philosopher and benefactor of every artist, who holds the novel together. It is from him that Jack receives those words of wisdom and encouragement so necessary for every artist.

 At the end of the novel, when Jack believes that he has made sense of it all, everything unravels. It is then that he must travel back to Virginia to face his father, his former friends and his unresolved past.


From the security of a comfortable life in Oak Grove, Virginia to the razor cold streets of New York City, Jack Stewart is bound and determined to pursue a career as a jazz musician - against all odds. When he returns home from a tour of duty in Nam, all that life asks of him is that he settle down and carry on the successful family business. Why would anyone who could have it so easy cast their fate to the brutal winds of such an uncertain livilihood as a jazz musician in New York City? There is more to this story by Carlos Rubio than Young man from hometown America sets out to become a jazz musician. In the way that Dizzy Gillespie "like a majestic bird in flight" blows his magic horn and he is suddenly the indisputed center of the universe; from the bottom of his heart to the mouthpiece of his tenor sax, Jack has no doubt that music will deliver him. With Hans (a gothic cathedral of a man in the woof and warp world of jazz), the owner of the Jazz club Empty Hand as his mentor, beautiful woman at the snap of his fingers, some of the greatest jazz musicians of the day on a first name basis with Jack as his inspiration, and the jazz epicenter of Greenwich Village as his stage, you would think that Jack Stewart had arrived. Deliverance, however, comes with a price tag. If you have a tall mountain to climb, or a vast valley to cross, or a tenor sax you desire to master, then this book is a must to read. This is a users guide for those of us who prefer center stage to going through life sitting in the cheap seats in the back row. And for those of you whose only request from life is a good book to read, then this is your lucky day.

Alan Hodgkinson
Author of After Incoming

Step into the little known world of struggling artists, musicians and writers. This novel of a man's self discovery takes us through close relationships and a troubled past. The author vividly immerses us in the culture and lifestyle found in the Empty Hand, a nightclub whose after hours camaraderie fostered by Hans, their benefactor and philosopher, who holds them, and the novel, together. This is a very well written and descriptive novel that lets you feel the comfort and joy, the frustration and hope of a section of our society few know about. For anyone who has the artist within them, this is one you don't want to miss.

B. Boren

Carlos Rubio captures the struggle of a young artist and the feel of New York City's jazz world. His vivid descriptions brings the sights and sounds of a village night club to the reader to the point of hearing the soulful music and smelling the smokey Empty Hand Cafe. Jack Stewart, the main character, struggles with fullfilling his dreams against all odds. Along the way the importance of mentors, friends, sacrifices, and believing in oneself are interwoven in the theme. This story will be enjoyed by all.

C. Flippen