E.M. Schorb

  A Portable Chaos opens with a stream-of-consciousness flash-back to a childhood incident that resembles James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” which gains significance as the novel unfolds, and you come to appreciate it. The main character is a decent guy overflowing with untapped potential, who walks away from opportunities and the wrong sort of success and follows his bliss as a poet. After a pretty squalid time living “la vie Boheme” (vividly written, conjuring up the ghosts of 1960s’ past), he emerges from the slough and finds validation, the girl, fame, fortune, contentment, and reconciliation with all those pesky childhood demons.
  This is a well-plotted, well-characterized, and solidly written story. A Portable Chaos has everything you want in good literature—poignant writing, drama, and redemption.

—Christopher Klim


   More than half a century ago, trying to find his way out of the chaos of a dysfunctional family that suffers from a dark secret, eighteen-year-old Jimmy Whistler joins the Marines and is sent to Hawaii, not yet a state, where he meets a fifteen-year-old girl, Leilani Kona, who turns out to be the love of his life, his own “Sweet Leilani;" but, due to her age and his sense of honor, their love remains unconsummated. Later, shipped back to the mainland and discharged from the Marine Corps, Jimmy makes a false start in New York City as an actor, falling in with a show business crowd, and, still later, with a band of hippies, all the while trying to perfect his true calling as a writer who is attempting to discover order in a chaos that now appears to be not merely personal but public. How Jimmy and Leilani find each other again in the midst of this private and public chaos is a story both comic and tragic.
   A Portable Chaos is an historical novel that brings to life the transformation of the United States from the conforming Fifties to the volcanic social eruptions of the “swinging” Sixties—from the private chaos of Jimmy Whistler’s childhood to the public chaos of his youth, the former shaping himself, the latter shaping all Americans.

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Selected Works

Prose Poems
Schorb demonstrates that the world of prose poetry has no boundaries of form, theme, or style.
--Jack Anderson
"Resurgius is a quietly hilarious read which, unique though it is, strikes me as belonging to the very league as the comic gems of Evelyn Waugh and Nathaniel West."
—X. J. Kennedy
"Chaos' has everything you want in good literature--poignant writing, drama, and redemption."
—Award Citation, Christopher Klim
"Fortune Island is a riveting read that can't be put down."
Midwest Book Review
Historical Mystery
"A crackling good story told in the compelling, precise prose of a poet."
--Award Citation, Walter Anderson, Publisher, Parade Publications
“I am always happy to drop everything—pretty nearly—when I make the acquaintance of a poet as good as E.M. Schorb.”
—James Dickey
"Schorb has been writing some of the best American poetry for decades."
—Jim Barnes
"The Ideologues is an amazing collection. The final poem, 'Toward the End,' reveals the reason that poetry exists."
—Fred Chappell
Winner of the Verna Emery Poetry Prize Purdue University Press