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The Wherewithal

A Novel in Verse

Philip Schultz (Author)


“Gripping, eloquent, moving, this is a powerful tale about what remains hidden and/or unspeakable in history.” —Elie Wiesel

I, one
Henryk Stanislaw Wyrzykowski,
Head Clerk of Closed Files,
a department of one,
in a forgotten well of ghostly sighs

This astonishing novel in verse tells the story of Henryk Wyrzykowski, a drifting, haunted young man hiding from the Vietnam War in the basement of a San Francisco welfare building and translating his mother’s diaries. The diaries concern the Jedwabne massacre, an event that took place in German-occupied Poland in 1941. Wildly inventive, dark, beautiful, and unrelenting, The Wherewithal is a meditation on the nature of evil and the destruction of war.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • August 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35144-6
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 192 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“An extraordinary piece of writing. As in his earlier work Schultz uses the resources of fiction, verse, and reportage to create something at once novelistic and deliriously poetic. . . . It left me reeling.” — James Lasdun

“I’ve never read anything that so brilliantly reaches beyond the efforts of mass extermination by the Nazis to the American onslaught in Vietnam—and makes poetry out of it.” — Maxine Kumin

“Stunning. . . . The Wherewithal is about evil and suffering and the human capacity for compassion.” — Adam Plunkett, New York Times Book Review

“Profoundly lyrical, it is Schultz’s great strength to create ugliness so profound as to reveal life’s beauty. Reading it is to be swept in by its power. I am reminded of Rilke, who wrote that the artist, in order to see beauty must first see the horrible, that a single denial of the repulsive will force him out of the state of grace and make him utterly sinful. Philip Schultz lives forever in that state of grace. He has written a great book.” — Grace Schulman

“A masterpiece. It takes a mysterious combination of humility, bravery, curiosity and skill to try to comprehend massive evil, and to illustrate that effort . . . an extraordinary volume of poetry. I repeat. We have been given a masterpiece.” — Barbara Berman, The Rumpus

“This dark, deep book, full of emotion and motion, points forward, thinking in new ways about the Holocaust and its aftermath.” — Jewish Book Council

“An ambitious, bracing book about large-scale suffering…and human compassion.” — Will Schutt, East Hampton Star

“Schultz has found a way not only to make these many narratives inform each other but to do so in the service of what becomes the lyric celebration of the possibility of love and beauty and heroic action in the face of ultimate darkness… What is so remarkable about this poem is its symphonic orchestration of conflicting tones—of outrage and anger, passion and compassion, guilt and longing; its pitch-perfect depiction of both ultimate horror and the possibilities for moral triumph and human connection.” — Ronald L. Sharp, Kenyon Review

Also by Philip Schultz All

  1. Book CoverLuxury: Poems


  2. Book CoverMy Dyslexia


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