A review of

The Fountain at the Center of the World

by Robert Newman

Central question: Can a wanted man save the world by stopping his brother from changing the way people think about reality?
Format: 320 pp., paperback; Size: 8.96” x 6.04”; Run: 1st: 3,500; 2nd: 2,500; Price: $14.95; Editor: Richard Nash; Agent: Claire Alexander; Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Book designer: David Janik; Text typeface: Garamond; Time spent writing the novel: About 5 years; Miles traveled while researching: 35,000; Pounds lost by author while writing: 35; Range in size of audience for events during author’s US book tour: 0-349; Representative sentence: “The best issues management work, Evan now told them, you should never notice: you just notice your opinions slowly changing.”

Robert Newman’s third novel, The Fountain at the Center of the World, juxtaposes a pair of estranged brothers: Chano, a grassroots industrial saboteur on the lam in Mexico, and Evan, a London-based spin doctor for the corporate Right. These two stars plot the transnational story’s course, guiding it to and fro across the Atlantic, out of the ailing heart of Mexico and into the riotous streets of Seattle for the 1999 WTO fiasco. Newman, a jack-of-all-trades whose résumé includes sold-out comedy gigs in Wembley Arena as well as some considerable roll-up-your-sleeves activism, sweeps a novelistic searchlight across the dark side of post-NAFTA globalization. The result is a relentless and noble book—because of its finger-pointing rather than in spite of it—the charged kind of story Costa-Gavras might film.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Chad Willenborg

Chad Willenborg is nearly finished writing a novel called Sloop. He currently resides in Fountainville, Pennsylvania, and hopes to open a coffeehouse very soon.

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