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Reviving a Controversial Novel of Hipster Life in 1960s New York City

Tough Poets Press to publish expanded 40th-anniversary edition of forgotten dark comedy by author Marvin Cohen

Arlington, MA, August 19, 2016 --( Rick Schober of Massachusetts-based Tough Poets Press has been collaborating with Brooklyn-born writer Marvin Cohen over the last few months on the production of a 40th-anniversary expanded edition of his only published novel, Others, Including Morstive Sternbump, a linguistically unique work that was both lauded and vilified by reviewers when it was first released in 1976. Here's a sampling of the press it received:

“[Like] something out of the brain of a poetic trash compactor fed on ten years’ accumulation of The New York Review of Books and As the World Turns. Cohen is bewitched by the novelty of the novel. He uses plot and language not to tell a story, but to discover and utilize all the lavish possibilities and pleasures these provide. This book is a writer’s lark, yet also a benign ramble through the Disneyland of a literary man’s literature.” — Soho Weekly News

“[Cohen] has put his sophisticated hand into the wiring of the language and twisted it impishly. ... The reward for your attention is that you hear a new voice and a new kind of surreal music.” — The New York Times Book Review

“An appeal that lingers beyond the final page. ... A brilliantly interpretive mind.” — Houston Chronicle

And then, there were reviews like this:

“There is no reason to buy this stuff. Or read it. Or publish it.” — Library Journal

Marvin Cohen (, now 85, was one of the most innovative voices in American literature during the 1960s and 1970s. He authored nine books, two of them published by New Directions, and his short fiction and essays appeared in more than 80 publications including The New Yorker, The New York Times,The Village Voice, The Nation, Harper's Bazaar, Vogue, Fiction, The Hudson Review, Quarterly Review of Literature, Transatlantic Review and New Directions annuals. Staged readings of his 1980 play, The Don Juan and the Non-Don Juan, featured such actors as Richard Dreyfuss, Keith Carradine, Jill Eikenberry, and Wallace Shawn. Today, however, both Cohen and his works languish in relative obscurity.

During his heyday, Cohen's writing was praised for its originality, sincerity, and humor. Here’s what the New York Times Book Review had to say about his 1967 debut, The Self-Devoted Friend:

“What Mr. Cohen has is his own: a joy in language, and an eye, at once innocent and shrewd, for the paradoxes inherent in the human condition. He puts both language and people through their paces, stands them on their heads, and hugs them to his heart in what amounts as a tour de force of serio-comedy, a sort of superb clowning in which pathos and absurdity intertwine as they do in a Charlie Chaplin film.”

This new paperback edition of Others, Including Morstive Sternbump has been completely reformatted and contains the full text of the original version published by Bobbs-Merrill in 1976. Cohen has also written a new brief foreword for this edition. The book also contains the transcript of his 23-minute New York Public Radio interview with the Reader's Almanac's Walter James Miller in which they discuss the novel and writing in general.

Others, Including Morstive Sternbump is scheduled for release in October 2016. To help defray some of the production costs, the publisher has recently launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign from which the book can be pre-ordered at a discount. Copies signed by Mr. Cohen will also be available. The Kickstarter campaign can be found here:

Book cover image:

1976 photo of Marvin Cohen by Tom Gervasi:

PDF of first three chapters of the novel:

About Tough Poets Press

Tough Poets Press ( is a one-person independent publisher of "rediscovered" literary fiction and non-fiction based in Arlington, MA. Books published to date are The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso (2015) andSarpedon: A Play by Gregory Corso (2016).
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Tough Poets Press
Rick Schober

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