Harborcoat Richard Melo
R I C H A R D  M E L O
Richard Melo [1968- ] landed in Portland, OR after fleeing San Francisco in the early 1990s. California was too costly for someone like Melo with such complete lack of ambition for anything other than the novels galloping along inside his head. While other young people flourished in San Francisco’s dot com boom (producing remarkable achievements like pets.com), Melo ran movie projectors and did AmeriCorps in Portland while scribbling away at his first novel. He has now lived in the beautiful Pacific Northwest long enough to have been caricatured on Portlandia (the episode titled ‘Grover’), a pleasure all the city’s residents will have had by the time the show reaches the mid-point of its fourth season. He has also published two novels.

Happy Talk is the novel that Percival Everett compared to “a collision of William Gaddis, M*A*S*H, and The Beguiled.” It’s a laugher about star-crossed lovers and atomic-era subterfuge set in Haiti and Mexico during the 1950s. Look for it this summer in a print edition published by Red Lemonade.

Jokerman 8, Melo’s first novel, was published by Soft Skull Press in 2004. The novel stirs nostalgia for a wild 1980s radical environmental movement that never gets off the same ground its advocates are desperately trying to save. Al Gore and Bono were seen sporting copies, though no photographic evidence exists. (If Melo were prone to exaggeration, he would have said Bishop Tutu and Michael Stipe.) Tom Robbins did not write a book jacket blurb for Jokerman 8, although there was talk at the time.

A member of the National Book Critics Circle, Melo lost count of the number of novels he has reviewed when the number passed 100. Most of the reviews appeared in Publishers Weekly, The Oregonian, Willamette Week, and The Believer. He also writes theatrical pieces, such as the new “Have Fun, Play Drums.”

More on Melo