Rick DeMarinis has published nine novels, six story collections, and a book on the art and craft of the short story. Magazine publications include The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, GQ, Harper’s, Paris Review, and others. A respected teacher, Rick taught fiction San Diego State, Arizona State, the University of Montana, and the University of Texas at El Paso. He received two NEA fellowships, and a literature award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He now calls the town of Tumwater, Washington home.

Sky Full of Sand

A Novel by Rick DeMarinis

Introduction by Scott Phillips


Aging bodybuilder Uriah Walkinghorse runs afoul of the corrupt El Paso elite and quickly finds himself pursued by narco traficantes, a suburban dominatrix, his ex-wife, tenants of his sleazy apartment building, and (worst of all) bankers. Behind this noir-inflected border tale of a good man in bad trouble, there’s a touching meditation on the tenacity of life in the face of all odds. This Concord ePress ebook marks the first wide availability of this underground classic, praised loudly by noir novelists and discriminating readers.



“Once in a while, someone comes along and pumps some originality into the generic crime novel. Rick DeMarinis, who seems to have warmed his toes by the fires of James Crumley’s gonzo genius, is one of that lonesome crowd of writers who love the language but aren’t afraid to rough it up to save its life. If civilization is headed for the caves, it’s nice to know that DeMarinis will be there, scribbling on the walls.”
– New York Times Book Review

“Like a cold lake, this novel by the author of such books as Cinder and Year of the Zinc Penny is best entered by a plunge. Bleak, brutal, demented and cruel, the El Paso world inhabited by Uriah Walkinghorse shocks the system, sets nerve-ends tingling, numbs, then drags you into its thrall.”
Publisher’s Weekly (starred review)


“Sky Full of Sand is noir down to a sentence level with a piece of noir wisdom on every page.”
Brian Lindenmuth, on his top ten noir novels, for the Mulholland Books site (starred review)


“A kind of twisted genius, treading in Charles Bukowski territory.”
The Agony Column (starred review)



Rick DeMarinis Is a Drug!

By Scott Phillips

Rick DeMarinis is the literary equivalent of black tar heroin. If you’re anything like me, you will devour Sky Full of Sand in record time and find yourself stuck with a visceral need to track down every word the man ever published. He’s lyrical without being mannered, gut-bustingly funny without ever descending to triviality or jokiness, and he has more range than any writer I know, from the hallucinatory fabulism of A Lovely Monster and Cinder via the relative realism of The Year of the Zinc Penny and The Burning Women of Far Cry to the very loony mix of elements that makes up Sky Full of Sand. (This range may explain why a large percentage of his most ardent admirers are writers themselves; he makes us want to try harder.)

I picked up this book when Dennis McMillan published it in 2003, and it was the first book of Rick’s that I’d read. Within the first thirty pages or so I felt the first stirrings of addiction. Dominatrices, bodybuilders, trannies, painthuffers, piranhas in toilets, NASCAR gigolos—how had I missed this guy before? But as I started spreading the word about Rick’s work, I discovered a couple of things. First, although most of the people I recommended him to, or lent my copies to, had never heard of him, they were unanimous in loving the books. Second, most of the people who had heard of him were other writers who’d been fans long before I tried to get them into the fan club. 

It’s not everything it’s cracked up to be, being a writer’s writer; the respect of your peers doesn’t necessarily translate into massive sales, and like a lot of superior writers Rick has spent his career moving from one publisher to another. But I hope that with the appearance of his books in electronic form with the renegade Concord ePress he will find legions of new addicts, jonesing for each new e-release, all of them spreading the word and creating a whole new generation of DeMarinis fiends.

Welcome, reader, to the shooting gallery.

St. Louis, Missouri, September, 2011