I’m Not The Only One Looking For Novelist Erich Viktor von Neff

A while back I put out a call for novelist Erich von Neff. You can read his novelette about Half Moon Bay here.

The other day I received an email from Walter Ruhlmann and here’s what he said:

I am the editor of a webzine called mgversion2>datura. It has been online since 2002. Before it was online, it had been a print magazine & review of poetry called Mauvaise graine (Literally bad seed = weeds)
I often published Erich von Neff at that time. I came across your blog and found out that you published him in April.
Do you know him at all?
Is he still in San Francisco, CA?
Does he have an email where I can contact him?

Kind regards, Walter

(Image: Walter Ruhlman)

Hello Walter,

I live in Half Moon Bay and in the 1970s I self-published a local history book. About that time I received a ms from Erich, the novel called “Pete’s Café,” that I put online. He was looking for a publisher but I had no money to publish his work or anyone else’s.

All those years I kept Erich’s ms. and now that I have a blog, and can publish the work of others online, I decided to put his wonderful piece on my site.

I am also trying to find him so that he knows what I have done.

I never met Erich and I do not know his present whereabouts. There was a San Francisco phone number on the ms and I tried it—-it just rings and rings; there is no answering machine.

I am sorry to disappoint you.

P.S. Your site is cool. Where are you located?


Thanks for answering so quickly.
I enjoyed reading you blog. I live in Le Mans, France where I teach English as a second language to teenagers aged 11-15, not always an easy task I’m afraid.

Anyway, I have this snail mail address for Erich: [xxxxx]

I used to publish a lot of Erich’s poems when Mauvaise graine was still called that way and printed. Since 2000 or so I’ve lost contact with him totally. I had some letters two years ago, then nothing. I really hope he’s fine. I’m not sure about hte European poets and publishers or reviewists who used to know and publish his work and whom I know. I’ll try them.

If you want to read more Erich’s work, I have some of it – well quite a lot of it actually… He used to send me huge envelopes with whole manuscripts. He was really appreciated here and widely published.

Regards, Walter

P.S. ‘m going to contact Serge Féray – a French writer native of the same city than me – he translated a lot of Erich’s work. Maybe he knows something…


First Chapter of Pete’s Cafe by Erich Viktor von Neff

Pete’s Café

Somewhere Near the Great Khan

In Half Moon Bay

A Novella

By Erich Viktor von Neff

Pete’s Café

Chapter One

The Pierce Arrow

The motor of the Pierce Arrow purred. Walt, my grandfather, let it warm up, engaged it in first, and we headed down the old Coast Highway toward Half Moon Bay. It was a beautiful road overlooking the sea. Salty air blew through the open windows. We sucked it into our lungs. We drove by fields of artichokes and Brussels sprouts. Broad brimmed hats faced us…occupied by Mexicans, Filipinos, and other farm workers. The Pierce Arrow passed row upon row, field after field of ripe green vegetables.

Our lungs continued to drink in the fecund coastal air. Walt turned off at Half Moon Bay. He drove down Main Street and parked in front of Pete’s Café.

“Buon giorno,�? Pete said in a hearty Italian voice as we entered. “Buon giorno,�? my grandfather replied. They laughed and slapped each other on the back. We found an empty table, amongst the tables of men speaking Tagalog, Portuguese, Italian and Spanish. Their voices chiming into one another, clashing, then trailing off.

Pete brought us two bowls of minestrone soup, two Dos Equis beers, Larraburu French bread and butter.

Walt cut off a slice of butter, and dropped it into the soup. He also broke off a piece of French bread which he dipped into the soup from time to time as he ate. I did the same. Was there any better way to eat minestrone soup?