Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Spotlight, Texas on May 14, 2016

East Jesus Banner


by Chris Manno

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: White Bird Publications
Date of Publication: March 8, 2016
Number of Pages: 314

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East Jesus Cover


In the summer of 1969, a small town in west Texas prepares to send one of their finest young men off to fight a faraway, controversial war. A parallel battle of domestic violence erupts at home as a younger generation struggles to reconcile older notions of right and wrong and even fractured family ties with the inevitable price that the fighting demands.

Much like today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Vietnam war is little understood by those left behind, but the lessons of strength, commitment and duty are timeless, then and now. East Jesus, the story of that national struggle today as well as back in 1969, is a plangent, soulful journey lived through the eyes of a wide-ranging, colorful array of characters, with a conclusion readers will never forget.

There’s more.  “East Jesus,” said one editor, “is a message of hope for our children.” Too often, teenagers who’ve survived a young lifetime of domestic violence believe “this is the hell I was born into, this is the hell I must accept for life.” East Jesus turns that notion on its ear: though there’s a price to pay, there’s a better way that rises above the violence.

The novel is peopled by strong characters, particularly women, in a salt-of-the-earth, small town, west Texas community. The price of a far away, unpopular war always comes due in small town America, then (set in 1969) as well as now (Iraq and Afghanistan). But the lesson of hope, sacrifice and redemption is timeless.

To read East Jesus is to live that story, to transcend the fighting at home and abroad, and to embrace the hope and faith in what’s right above all else.

Experience East Jesus, live the story–you’ll never forget it.


Amazon      White Bird Publications


Excerpt from Chapter 2 of East Jesus

Pop had his back turned, pouring a jelly glass full of tequila. He held it up to the window, turning it back and forth with his fingers, looking through it to the street lamp cutting the darkness outside Mason’s.

He growled deep in his throat. “Get ready, Baby-Doll. Put on your pretty face. The Kang’s coming after you.”

Slowly, he put the glass to his lips. I breathed through my mouth, carefully, praying to God that Pop couldn’t hear the thudding of my heart that sent the blood roaring through my ears.

With noisy gulping swallows, Pop drained the glass, gasped and spat in the sink, then wiped his mouth with the back of the slap hand. The fingers on the club hand trembled ever so slightly, then groped for the bottle again, as Pop stared out the window.

He flinched, his shoulders hunched slightly, and the hand froze. I knew the black eyes had locked onto something, either outside or reflected from inside, in the filthy glass pane.

The hand moved toward the bottle again, steadily, and found it. Thick, grease-stained fingers closed around the bottle, lifted it, and poured the last few ounces of clear liquid into the drinking glass. He froze, eyes still locked on the window, bottle tipped toward the glass, thick shoulders tensed, a motionless freeze-frame save the tiny, colorless drops that plinked one by one into the amber pool in the glass.

My heart thundered. I fought a shiver that drew every nerve in my body tight.

The dark statue before the window gripped the bottle, frozen save the measured drip that slowed, and slowed, and finally came to one golden drop that stretched, but hung on just the same.

Faint strains of my mother’s ragged humming mixed with my own shallow breathing as I watched the cords on the back of the chop hand bulge and the finger pads whiten against the empty bottle.

I blinked. In that fraction of a second, the tiger leapt and spun, and I heard the air whistle over the mouth of the empty bottle just before the starburst of light and the dagger of pain exploded from my left cheekbone.

I flexed my knees and braced myself forward to resist the charge as Pop leapt over a laundry basket and grabbed my throat. He slammed me against the wall by the stove.

“Boy, you ain’t got the common sense to git while you could of.” His eyes bulged, and he panted short breaths sweetened with the afterscent of tequila and lingering traces of Red Man. “You jest got no sense at all.”

A thumb dug under my jawbone probing, then found its mark. My cheek throbbed, my ears hummed, and the room began to swim. A reedy voice fluttered up from somewhere deep in my heaving chest. “You… ain’t no father… to Bean. And you… ain’t no husband to—”

My feet left the floor, and I sailed across the room, weightless, catching a glimpse of my pale momma, jaw slack and eyes wide, frozen in the hallway. I dropped against the front door frame. Pop vaulted over the cluttered table and landed on his haunches square in front of me, his face in mine.

“You’re goddam right I ain’t,” he hissed, dotting my throbbing cheek with tiny flecks of tequila spit.

The slap hand whipped out of nowhere. Impact sparked another burst of light that made my ear ring and my nose burn somewhere down deep. A warm trickle flowed down my chin, but I ignored it, boring a hole in his eyes with my own.

His lips pulled back against brown teeth. “Who do you think I am a Pa to?”

Starbursts again, on the other side. My skin burned, and that ear rang. Still, I lanced him with my eyes but clenched my jaws tight.

Course hands lifted me and pinned me roughly against the door. Again, I said nothing.

Pop drew ragged breaths. “You best listen to me, boy.” He banged my head off the door. “Pa or no, I’d sooner burn in hell than rot here in East Jesus with the likes of you.”

about the author

Chris Manno matriculated from Springfield, Virginia and graduated from VMI in 1977 with a degree in English. He was commissioned in the Air Force and after completing flight training, spent seven years as a squadron pilot in the Pacific at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa and Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. He was hired by American Airlines as a pilot in 1985 and was promoted to captain in 1991. He flies today as a Boeing 737 captain on routes all over North America and the Caribbean. He earned a doctorate in residence at Texas Christian University and currently teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University in addition to flying a full schedule at American Airlines. He lives in Fort Worth.

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Each winner gets an author signed copy of East Jesus PLUS 

a free download of Chris’s cartoon book #RudeLateNightCartoons 


  May 10 – May 19, 2016

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