The Big Wide Calm: A Novel

The Big Wide Calm: A Novel

by Rich Marcello

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The Big Wide Calm: A Novel by Rich Marcello

A young woman�s journey to find herself and create the perfect album

Paige is a rock star. The world just doesn�t know it yet. With a name like Paige Plant, how could she be anything but the future frontwoman of the next Led Zeppelin? She�s got the charisma, the drive, and, of course, the mega-musical skills. All she needs is to make her debut album, one that will change the world, inspire revolutions�and make her galactically famous along the way.

When John Bustin, a rich, reclusive, former semi-famous singer/songwriter offers to record Paige�s album for free, it feels like destiny, like the next step on her way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, like some strange attractor is pulling her in. Guitar in hand, Paige sets off to John�s recording compound, ready to unfold her future.

But the ever-elusive John, with his mysterious history, and Paige, a big dreamer but na�ve about her footing in life, clash as much as they coalesce. Before they can change the world through Paige�s music, the improbable duo must learn to work together, and in the process, discover their authenticity.

One part coming-of-age story and retrospective, one part rock and roll epic, The Big Wide Calm focuses a lens on human nature and the complexities of love through the eyes of young and old on the journey of creating the perfect album.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940149293025
Publisher: Langdon Street Press
Publication date: 05/07/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 254
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

If Rich Marcello could choose only one creative mentor, he'd give the role to Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers. This is not only because he currently resides in New England, where Jonathan started, but because of his life as a contemporary fiction author, poet and songwriter, whose literary inspiration often stems from songs he's written.

Rich grew up in New Jersey surrounded by song and word. For a while it seemed right to travel the musician's path, especially during his stint in his college folk group where he wrote and recorded his first original songs. Graduation led him down a different road. He enjoyed a successful career as a technology executive, managing several multi-billion dollar businesses for Fortune 500 companies.

During his time in technology he never stopped creating art. Eventually, his love for song and the written word grew to the point where he walked away from his first career to pursue poetry, song, and fiction.

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The Big Wide Calm: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
HobbitGirlSL More than 1 year ago
I definitely feel like this book was written for me! I am always looking for books to read that I can get through within a few days and are very realistic. I read this book over spring break, & I had just enough time to finish it! I felt as if the characters spoke to me as real people, and not fictitious characters not seemingly make no sense, are filled with and less drama, and so on. I really liked how they seem to resignate my life perfectly on the pages.if you are looking for a book that captivate and human soul and the simplistic complexities that make up life, I highly recommend taking the time to read this book, from a new author that definitely will be during head soon! I should be able to be read from teens to adults, and it's not about vampires or revolutions!
MirandaMmkay More than 1 year ago
Where has this author been all my life? I feel like The Big Wide Calm was written just for me. It's silly, I know, and I see that several other people are posting similar comments, so I guess I will just take it as more evidence that my other opinion about this book is correct: This is a very good novel. Paige is a wonderful character, neatly drawn in sharp strokes, and then filled in with a surprising amount of depth. Like one layer beneath another, without the book ever becoming pretentious or dull. That's a hard thing for an author to do, to relate depth without losing levity. There's lots of just pure entertainment in this book. The way the musicians are portrayed, the little asides that Paige thinks to herself about her sex life, about her childhood, about her friends. It all rings very true. Generally I am of the opinion that it shouldn't matter if a writer is a man or a woman, black, white or green with polka dots. The value of a book lies purely between its pages (Paiges? heh). But I think Rich Marcello deserves at least an extra half-star for writing so authentically from the point of view of a young woman. It never feels forced, and it's often quite charming and even trenchant. I say that I feel like it was written for me because of the relationship between Paige and John Bustin. When I was still in college I was getting my writing and painting "career" (such as it is) going, and working in a coffee shop full time. There were a few older people working there (older meaning like early 30's, which seemed old to me at the time). They always wanted to listen to Jonathan Richman and listening to Richman's sort of "storyteller/jokester" way of singing songs made me start to feel connected to him in a daughter/father kind of way, and yet he seemed attractive to me. It was a strange dynamic. Anyway, back to the book, the dynamic between Bustin and Paige, and the way she ponders her relationships to men in general and to her art, specifically, speaks truth straight to my own heart. It's not so much that Paige has the "answers." It's that she faces the same questions and inner monologues that I find myself thinking. Paige's career is a "real" one (eventually, kinda, no spoilers), and that's different from me. But that's the thing, even though the main plot is the arc of her career — signing to the label, writing songs, recording, etc — what's really relevant is this young woman's relationship to the people around her and her own somewhat conflicted status as artist. One more personal note, if it's not too revealing. I loved the various details of Paige's sex life. Don't worry, it's not graphic or maudlin or cheap at all. But it is humorous, and it is true to life. It's the sort of "specific-universal" descriptions that make it easy to relate to. I mean to say that the details are unique to Paige and yet the emotions and wry humor they evoke feel exactly like feelings from real life. Quote: "I did stir things up with Z though. When he came to visit me this weekend, I asked him to stop and buy four long silk scarves, you know, the kind older, well-dressed women wear all the time. Until last Firday night, it seemed like a waste to put perfectly good arms and legs out of commission even for a bit. But that night tying Z up worked. I even put my swim goggles on for added strangeness. There's an image." In that little humorous image, you get a rather risqué sexual image, and yet it is subtle and not crude. You learn another little side of the heroine, her ability to do such things to her lover, and then it ends with those swim goggles "for added strangeness." I laughed out loud when I read that, and the people on the bus looked at me funny. This book is full of such jaunty and entertaining, subtle little sentences and descriptions. But it would do a disservice to focus only on Paige just because I identified with her so strongly. Because there's another "star" in this novel, and that's John Bustin. He, too, immediately comes to life with a few broad descriptive brushstrokes from Marcello, and yet each scene and bit of dialogue, especially as he starts to really open up to Paige's influence on him, begins to adds layers of depth to him. He's a bit of a tragic figure, and yet he's humorous, loving, and in his own strange way, kind of dead sexy. For anyone who is on the fence about reading a "rock novel," I'd just say, first of all, it's awesome. Second of all, if you have any love of music at all, you'll enjoy the parts about the singer-songwriter process. And third of all, it's a bit lazy to call this a "rock novel" at all. It's a "human novel" and the humans involved happen to be musicians. The actual details about the writing, singing, recording, etc. process are pretty engrossing to me (and I'm not a musician), but I hope it doesn't insult Mr. Marcello to say that, deep down, I feel like this could have been about anybody who lives and creates with passion and a flair for the artistic... writers, musicians, painters... in fact Paige is a bit of a painter herself. Sometimes I feel weird getting "inspired" by books, like I should be too old for that. All I can say is that this book inspired me, made me want to recommit to my own "inner rock star" and most of all made me wish I could meet Paige in real life. Hopefully Marcello will bring her back, or more characters just as lively, in the future. Loved this book and from what others say it sounds like I need to read his earlier work too.  All in all, a magical, complex book, with two amazing, memorable, relatable characters. Highly recommended!
Yvette_M More than 1 year ago
“The Big Wide Calm,” is a beautiful story about the complexities of love and human nature itself.  The character development is amazing, and I found that the author excels in creating Paige as a sympathetic & beautiful artist. I instantly fell in love with her youthful and ambitious spirit.  I also felt like John Bustin completed Paige, as a character.  The author pays attention to the realism in human interactions and a lot of their actions and dialogue makes sense  and feels nature. I love the themes of music, art, love, and friendship. Overall, I highly recommend this novel. It was a fun and quick read. 
rmh8402 More than 1 year ago
Paige Plant is a rockstar in her own mind. As a young talented singer-songwriter, she feels it is only a matter of time before the rest of the world sees what she does. When she meets John Bustin-the man who can make all of her dreams come true-she feels like this is her time. The problem is they don't quite see eye to eye on the best way to handle this. Will they be able to work together to get this record done? Rich Marcello has written an amazing book that catches your attention immediately. The Big Wide Calm is well written with characters that you believe in. The story is easy to read and it flows seamlessly. Marcello brings everything to life with writing that isn't overbearing, but done with an experienced hand. The descriptions let you see it all as you read, but they don't take over the story or distract you. Paige and John seem like real people the way Marcello writes them. Sometimes you forget that you are reading a book-it almost seems like you are a shadow following them around. They are fully developed with many complexities and layers. The emotional journey they go on is very believable, and you take that journey with them. This is a book I would recommend for anyone-it is just a great story that will entertain you and keep you turning the pages. You will feel the emotions they do-making it slightly draining at times-but it is totally worth it!
SamsaraKH More than 1 year ago
“A must read for anyone with an interest in the music industry!” Paige Plant is young, talented and beautiful; she’s also ambitious, feisty, arrogant and egotistical. In fact everything a music artist needs to be to succeed in the industry. I think it’s safe to say I have spent enough time working in studios to say I have met my fair share of Paige Plants! TBWC is well written and Marcello certainly has an understanding of the creative process. It’s obvious he has spent time around musicians and gets the buzz of the writing process, that moment when everything just clicks and a track comes together. It was an easy read, I loved it. I was involved from the first chapter and read the book in three days. If I had to sum up the book in a few words I’d say forgiveness, recovery and healing. Marcello takes us on a learning curve with Paige and I felt that it was a journey I travelled with her. Marcello is a proficient storyteller, there were twists and turns in the plot that I really didn’t see coming, he kept me on the edge! The descriptive prose was sensuous and his characterization is deep and thorough. Paige is a free spirit, hedonistic and hungry, with a complete belief in her own talent and self-worth, I loved her attitude! I would absolutely recommend this book, it’s a story that weaves its way in and out of human relationships as well as exposing our own vulnerabilities and weaknesses. So… does Paige find The Big Wide Calm? Well you will just have to read the book and find out.
JulieGB More than 1 year ago
Paige Plant is a singer/songwriter with a handful of songs under her belt. When she meets John, they feel a connection. He agrees to mentor her musical abilities with his many years of expertise. They agree to work together for a year while she writes and records one song per month.  Little does Paige know how much she will learn and grow in that short time. I loved Paige’s personality and spunk. There was so much contrast from where she started, to where she ended in such a sort time. I liked how all her surrounding characters complimented her growth, and seemed to grow along with her. I’m glad the author gave closure to Paige and John. It made the story come full circle.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully written Sympathetic characters, intricate plot-line, I was sad when it ended because I wanted to hear more. Such an interesting story idea and it all came together so smoothly. The author has done an amazing job of letting you step into the shoes ‘of Paige, feel here love, her doubts, and take you along an emotional rollercoaster ride. This is the first I’ve read by Rich Marcello, and it certainly won’t be the last. This book introduced me to a way of life that was completely unfamiliar to me. I’m definitely looking forward on reading more from this author. 
MichaelBeas More than 1 year ago
Art will never be looked at in the same light again.  “The Big Wide Calm A Novel,” I thought was thoroughly a thought-provoking read that had me in a daze the entire time. Author Rich Marcello I think did a wonder job in developing vivid characters that posse’s depth and profoundness that are both likable as they are unique. Within only the first couple of chapters you will be tossed into the world of main character Paige Plant.  I thought that the backbone of this story portrays the element of “coming of age.” It is the story that reminisces on what it takes for a YA to grow up in our society and the issues / dilemmas that are constantly in play. For Paige it is the decisions that are surrounded with her friend John and of course those surrounding her dream of making it in the music industry.  In short, I felt that this is a well-written novel, it is a little slow at the start but then picks up in an engrossing fashion, that I myself liked, as well as enjoyed. This is definitely a great book to read on a rainy day with a cup of coffee and some good music in the background. The end will leave you breathless and above all, will have you looking back at your own life and goals.  5 Stars! 
EDL85 More than 1 year ago
“The Big Wide Calm” is a compellingly readable contemporary fiction novel that explores music, art, ambition, and unexpected friendship, among other themes.  The novel is told through the narration of its main character, Paige Plant—her father legally changed her last name in honor of Robert Plant, and both he and Paige are sure she will reach the same heights of fame as the lead singer of Led Zeppelin. When Paige’s friend tells her about an older songwriter named John Bustin, who has a studio he lets promising artists use for free, it sounds too good to be true—and when Paige meets him and he offers her a stipend to live in his home and write and record for a year, she jumps at the chance.  What she doesn’t know is that over the next year John will push her beyond her comfort zone to find the place underneath emotion, “the big wide calm,” so that she can write deeply authentic songs—and that to do so he will pit her against another young artist named Bono and surprise her daily with his own complex, often melancholy personality.  My knowledge of music is admittedly very limited, but I do love fiction that can wholly immerse me into a fictional character’s life, and “The Big Wide Calm” succeeds at this. Paige’s voice is engaging and delightful—she ambitious and a little arrogant, but she also is funny and kind-hearted. John’s personality is more slowly revealed through the novel, and eventually his pain and interest in “emotional charnal grounds” makes sense and deepens him as a character. I also liked how the book didn’t take the traditional path and push Paige and John into a romance—they became close but in a way that reflected true friendship and compatibility. As a reader, I became invested not only in Paige’s success (and the book really delves into her creative process and inspiration, even including poems and songs she writes along the way) but both her and John’s emotional growth.  In sum, “The Big Wide Calm” is a well-written, often moving novel with the resonance that comes from an author who truly cares about his characters and writing them in a way that it is true to life; I would recommend to readers who enjoy contemporary fiction. 
Danielle-Marie More than 1 year ago
I really didn't know what to expect, but the synopsis sounded interesting so I thought I'd go for it. I enjoyed this book so much more than I expected to. This was a unique book with great characters. Life from the point of view of a young 20-something takes me back to the naivety of myself as a young woman. Career, following your dreams, love, wanting to change the world... all the things important as you're making your mark on the world. Paige was a great character who you will love. A very creative young woman who knows what she wants, enjoys a few surprises, learns about hard work and a thing or two about love. The "artsy" aspect was such a great addition, something you don't see often. Anyone who loves art of any kind will appreciate Paige's love of music and will understand how one's life revolves around their creativity. Paige was truly an inspiration, reading The Big Wide Calm made me feel excited and ready to start new projects of my own. There's something special about Paige's enthusiasm. The Big Wide Calm was an excellent book that was a fun, exciting read, that left me inspired.
Capri_Coker More than 1 year ago
Evocative, Engaging and Entertaining. I have to admit that the first thing that drew me to ''The Big Wide Calm'' was the cover... it's unique, engaging and stunningly evocative... a perfect pairing to this thoroughly enjoyable novel. The novel dives into Paige, a young woman with dreams of fame, fortune, success and a place in history as a gifted musician. She's a person who reaches for the stars and has grand dreams, but Paige gets the chance to record an album with the wizened John Bustin things take a turn for the better and the worst as the two try to navigate life, dreams, differing personalities and the growing relationship between them. This is an evocative and introspective novel that really explores the characters in a wonderful way. It has a smooth pace and a vividly engaging writing style, sucking the reader into Paige's sassy and effervescent life as she deals with the struggles of her dreams and the reality of life as a burgeoning ''rock star''. The novel is at times poignant, funny, emotionally charged and charming. It's a coming-of-age tale that explores self-discovery, life dreams, failed goals and the beauty of life in all its complexities. The well-written novel had me eagerly reading until the very end and was altogether a novel well worth the read.
Raymy1012 More than 1 year ago
The Big Wide Calm is a must read as it delves into the beauty that is music, love and finding yourself along the way. Paige Plant is an exceptional character that captured my heart from the beginning and had me rooting for her all the way. Author Rich Marcello brings us the story of young Paige, born to be a musician daring to fulfill her dreams. We experience every raw emotion and truth as she grows and develops. It would be hard to find a sweeter more complete character in modern literature. Her story is worthy of being told and is told well by Marcello. Marcello’s talent shines bright with his ability to create such a beautiful story and character that will surely find her way into your heart and mind long after you finish reading this novel. I highly recommend it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In The Big Wide Calm, Rich Marcello captures a unique voice in the character of Paige Plant, who is intriguingly attractive in the most bizarre way possible. Named after Led Zeppelin members, twenty-something Paige is the kind of YA protagonist that puts others to shame. She is reminiscent of some of the most memorable protagonists in other bildungsroman novels—Alaska Young from Green’s Looking for Alaska, Holden Caulfield from Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Hazel Grace Lancaster from Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, Josephine March from Alcott’s Little Women. You will root for her from the very beginning, get excited with her in her journey, hope with her that the recording goes well, and share the butterflies in her stomach as she realizes that she’s getting closer to her dreams. Moreover, the idea of Paige doing a watercolor painting for every song she’s written is a revelation. I love how Marcello was able to fuse two art forms together in a way that makes sense. From the way the characters are developed, it’s totally believable that Paige is the type of person who does a painting of her songs. Also, I still feel giddy whenever artists I personally love get mentioned in books. So yes, I agree with Paige wholeheartedly, The Civil Wars harmony is amazing and there are worse things in life than someone catching you dancing to Arcade Fire. And then there’s the relationship between Paige and John, which is understandably suspiciously at first. But I guess that’s another beauty of the book. You take the journey along with Paige, and you are along for the ride as she discovers the things that really matter the most in life. If someone asked me to highlight my favorite parts, the entire book would be highlighted yellow. But just to prove a point, here are some lines from Paige’s earlier poems. “…I no longer hate you. And when I realized that Hate was the last thing that Connected us I realized that I no longer loved you.”
AKreutter More than 1 year ago
Rich Marcello's most recent novel, "The Big Wide Calm" introduces us to Paige Plant, troubadour, musician, broody twenty something just trying to find her way without having to sell out. Paige comes face to face with decades-older John Bustin, who is a semi-famous, has-been of a singer-songwriter living alone in the woods. Bustin, as a sort of philanthropic project, takes fledgling musicians under his wing and permits them free-reign of his recording studio, if he considers the work, the music, and the musician worthy. When Paige meets Bustin for the first time she wonders if he's legit, or if he's just some creeper who is going to lure her into his house and chop her up into bits. Even though Paige's logic bran is telling her to flee the scene and not follow John, she feels pulled by a magnetism in his eyes, the big wide calm thing that lies sprawled beneath emotion. Marcello's sophomore work gives us a glimpse into the mind of one young woman who has scored the deal of a lifetime and one much older man who lost his chance, but gives Paige his all so that she can achieve her dream. There's a clash of generations, attitudes, and ideas in this hard-to-resist and even harder-to-put-down novel but in the end both characters work together and reveal their true selves, the selves hidden sprawled beneath the big wide calm.
Sa17 More than 1 year ago