Czuchlewski, David 1976-
CZUCHLEWSKI, David 1976-
CAREER: Author and doctor. Manhattan Spirit, New York, NY, reporter.
The Muse Asylum, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Empire of Light, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
SIDELIGHTS: Born in 1976, David Czuchlewski published his first book during his third year at Mount Sinai Medical School. He has worked as a reporter in the past, but now juggles his two passions, medicine and writing. In an interview posted on the Putnam Web site, Czuchlewski explained, "I have always been writing" and this passion began as early as the age of three when he would spell out words on the refrigerator door. By six, he was "banging out stories on my father's manual typewriter about animals who lived in the Times Square subway station." He received his B.A. from Princeton University where he studied English literature with a concentration in creative writing and now lives in New York City.
Czuchlewski wrote his first book, The Muse Asylum, as his senior thesis at Princeton University. Joyce Carol Oates, his mentor and thesis advisor, had such confidence in his abilities that she passed the manuscript on to her agent, Elly Sidel. The work was turned down by a number of publishers before Putnam decided to publish it. A literary suspense novel, this book centers around three Princeton graduates who find themselves seeking out the true identity of the reclusive and legendary author Horace Jacob Little. Jake, a reporter, is out for the story while Andrew, a talented but paranoid artist being treated at an institution for the artistic insane known as the Muse Asylum, believes Little is actually following him and means to do harm to his and Jake's ex-girlfriend, Laura. Lines between sanity and insanity are blurred as the mystery of just who Little is intensifies. Todd Kliman of the Washington Post stated, "The effort frequently reeks of adolescent nostalgia, literary pretension and self-congratulation," but noted, "There is a well-paced, nicely plotted story here." A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked that some of the "prose has the amateurish enthusiasm of an undergraduate taking his first class in literary criticism," but also stated that "the novel is well plotted, with nuanced characters and real intellectual heft." Bernadette Murphy of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Czuchlewski raises difficult, important questions in an unexpected way, using a strong voice coupled with a good sense of story—all of which make for even greater disappointment when the important questions he poses are reduced to set dressing." A contributor for Kirkus Reviews commented, "A fabulous debut. Look for big things from this new writer. He's the genuine article." Tom Nolan of the Wall Street Journal found it a "cleverly devised, sharply composed, entertaining and moving first novel." Jana Siciliano of BookReporter wrote, "Czuchlewski's prose is perfect" and found the book to be "a completely original and expertly executed tome."
After the enthusiastic reception of his first book Putnam offered to publish Czuchlewski's second book, Empire of Light. Another mystery, this work follows a Princeton grad working for Teach for Humanity in Harlem, who gets lured into a strange cult-like order of the Catholic Church called Imperium Luminis, or Empire of Light. He soon discovers that many figures from his past are also involved in this sect, and he struggles to determine whether they are doing good or evil. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews found that the "plot is banal and uninteresting." Harold Augenbraum of Library Journal noted that the book "stops short of the truly remarkable book this would have been had he delved more into the spiritual world lurking underneath." Brendan Dowling of Booklist wrote, "Part psychological thriller and part meditation on the nature of faith, this smartly written novel should attract the interest of readers."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, August, 2003, Brendan Dowling, review of Empire of Light, p. 1951.
Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2001, review of The MuseAsylum, p. 349; July 1, 2003, review of Empire of Light, p. 871.
Library Journal, July, 2003, Harold Augenbraum, review of Empire of Light, p. 121.
Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2001, Bernadette Murphy, review of The Muse Asylum, p. E-3.
Publishers Weekly, April 9, 2001, review of The MuseAsylum, p. 51.
Wall Street Journal, June 8, 2001, Tom Nolan, review of The Muse Asylum, p.w12.
Washington Post, July 8, 2001, Todd Kliman, review of The Muse Asylum, p. BW06.
BookReporter,http://www.bookreporter.com/ (September 4, 2001), Jana Siciliano, review of The Muse Asylum.
Media Bistro,http://www.mediabistro.com/ (September 9, 2003), Darby Saxbe, "A Conversation with David Czuchlewski."
Muse Asylum,http://www.penguinputnam.com/ (November 16, 2001), "David Czuchlewski: In his Own Words."*