Cartilage and Skin (a novel)


Cartilage and Skin has it all: a fast-paced narrative, cool language, downtrodden characters, and addictive intrigue. Rizza writes with dark high-energy and philosophical flair about his nervous anti-hero on a self-destructive quest. The story shifts with every page, never losing momentum, always surprising us. Fascinating, ferocious reading.”

–Deb Olin Unferth, author of Vacation and Revolution


“Cartilage And Skin is an astonishing debut novel, uncompromising, dark, part-Dostoevsky, part-Camus. It’s a brilliant journey into the underside of the unconscious with no holds barred. The main character Dr. Parker’s lonely generational angst, his ennui and self-loathing result in the irretrievable loss of his humanity. In this unsentimental challenge to predictable fictional assumptions, the possibility of transcendence has been lost forever. Not least, this is a page turner.”

–Joan Mellen, author of A Farewell To Justice and, most recently, Our Man In Haiti.


“Ultimately, this is a novel about the struggle to know others and to know oneself in a world where bodies feel and inflict pain, where identity and relationships are composed of both fantasy and reality. This is a world where a pile of rags can become a human being, where Parker can change from a villain to a victim to a hero and back again. Cartilage and Skin is a novel of intrigue, both in content and structure.”  –Kelsie Hanh, review at Necessary Fiction


“Rizza keeps us just off-balance enough to entice us to turn the page, trying to figure out what the uncanny Dr. Parker has actually done and what he has imagined. Unlike traditional thrillers, Cartilage and Skin is not so much concerned with who has committed what crime, but with the very way we define said crimes.” –Sheila M. Trask, review at ForeWord Reviews 


“Rizza has a mesmerizing ability to get into the brain of an Asperger’s-ridden loner who may or may not be giving us the whole story about his intentions and his past, which makes even the most banal and everyday actions and descriptions carry a tense, compacting weight.” –Blake Butler, review at Vice.


A Brief Description:

Cartilage and Skin is a dark literary thriller about a loner named Dr. Parker. He leaves his city apartment on an indefinite quest, not for love or friendship, but for “a drop of potency.” Yet he is quickly beset by obstacles. Through a series of bad decisions, he ends up being stalked by a violent madman and scrutinized by the law for a crime he claims he did not commit.

Meanwhile, he finds himself becoming involved with a kind, generous divorced woman named Vanessa Somerset. She seems to him receptive, if not eager, to love. Little does she know, because he does not tell her, that he is on the run, his life is in shambles, and an absurd horror lurks close by, ready crash down on them


Available at Starcherone Books, Amazon, and Powell’s Books