The Fishfly

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The Fishfly deals very personally with the issue of male childhood sexual abuse and offers a point of view that is rarely expressed in our victim-obsessed society. The Fishfly is a heavily fictionalized “what if” around the author’s own story of CSA, presenting an alternative ending to the tragic scenario, which continues to be repeated with young people everywhere. The central question of the novel is what if we actually had the opportunity to confront our perpetrator, thirty years after the fact?

“My intention in publishing this story is not to exploit mine, or others, misfortune; it is to express something deep that is real and true, to create something that resonates, that reaches out to those who may struggle with those demons lingering from abuse.


The Fishfly is an expression of my actual experiences with CSA, both real and imagined. The Fishfly gets at a level of self-revelation one can only hope to achieve in a great work of art. Although it certainly comes with a trigger warning, it is also my hope that The Fishfly offers insight and solace to anyone who has suffered at the hands of another.” Robert Maniscalco

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Donald Michael Spinelli located the man who sexually assaulted him as a boy. Now, he is on a murderous trek into the dark inner sanctum of New Orleans society to avenge himself upon his assailant. The Fishfly is the debut novel by artist, gallerist and noted television host (“Art Beat” on PBS), Robert Maniscalco.

Maniscalco’s first novel, The Fishfly, is another masterpiece by a renaissance man who seems to be great at whatever he endeavors to accomplish. At first glance, one might mistake The Fishfly for a tired mystery novel, but it’s not as predicable as you might think. And once you’ve spun wildly through the chapters, catching glimpses of the past, snipets of the present and maybe a look into the future out of the corner of your eye, you arrive at the end – breathless.— Vicki Barnes Full review

The Fishfly was a very interesting read. I believe societies like the ones described in the book do exist, however they are very rarely talked about. I was a bit surprised at the ending. I was sure I had it figured out. Absolutely worth reading.— Amazon Customer

bookmark 1The Fishfly is the inner monologue of Donald Michael Spinelli, a portrait artist, turned vigilante. Fishflies are a rich existential metaphor for Spinelli, who, like the tiny little bugs (pictured on the cover), is on a desperate mission to do or die. We find ourselves inside the mind of an artist with a deep secret inner life. The actual story takes place over a period of about 18 hours in New Orleans, with frequent flashbacks and digressions to New York City and the suburbs of Detroit. This psychological thriller culminates in a dramatic collision of the past, present and future.

Though he has developed into a formidable artistic talent, Spinelli discovers he has spent his whole life, incapable of taking real action. Using the internet he has located the man who sexually assaulted him as a boy. Now, he is on a murderous trek into the dark inner sanctum of New Orleans society to avenge himself upon his assailant. The precarious act of trying to “correct” his life’s course sets into motion a series of events, encounters and recollections that peel away years of denial and pretense. The reader follows, moment by moment, as Donald responds to the twists and turns of being in action for the first time in his life. He is as an unlikely vigilante, consumed by his guilt and afraid to really live. But he becomes obsess with revenge. Finally, he comes face to face, not just with the man who sexually assaulted him but with his own inner demons as well. Through each turn of events, he is forced to confront the veracity of his stories and the impact and meaning they have had on his life. Like many of us, Donald comes to realize he’s made himself the victim of his own life story.

So after this nervous breakthrough, does Donald get his revenge?

Does this peace-loving artist have what it takes to pull the trigger?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATwelve years in the making, The Fishfly is a powerful story that needed to be told, now more than ever. The Fishfly is a probing, incisive novel which lays bare the insidious nature of both verbal and physical abuse. It grapples with the deep-rooted challenges inherent in the healing process, imaginatively dealing with the how and why of this raging epidemic. The narrative moves back and forth, between the perspective of the young victim and the recovering adult. It is the author’s hope that The Fishfly might contribute to breaking the cycle of fear, anger and abuse, which continues to grip our world.

Note: for those readers who would like to know how much of The Fishfly is a record of true events, it is simple: all events in the present are fiction. Most of the events in the book, prior to Donatello discovering the whereabouts of Dr. Gusto Fernandez, are true. Although I tried, I was never able to locate this very real doctor, who was an intern at Children’s Hospital in Detroit in 1974, the time of the CSA. My biggest regret in life is that I have not been able to bring him to justice. This book is the best I can do to remedy that fact. As a survivor of CSA, I ask you to please help me share this important story with the world.

Ever been a victim? Of course you have. Of a schoolyard bully. A teacher seeking to set an example. A lousy boss who makes subordinates pay for his or her dumb ideas. A robber. A cheat. A petty thief. We’ve all been victims. It’s life. In the United States, our inalienable rights include the pursuit of happiness, not happiness itself. That’s for us as individuals to achieve or fail. The great majority of us get over being a victim. Meaningful people are repulsed by the prospect of joining the whiny ranks of perpetual victim-hood, whose members indenture themselves to the more accomplished and powerful, real or imagined. But what if? — Brad Lindburg   Read the Full article

About the Author

Robert Maniscalco is a highly sought after commission portrait artist. His exquisite oil-on-canvas portraits and fine art can be found in over 850 prominent, private and public collections throughout North America. Robert also explored the creative process as host of ART BEAT, produced by Detroit Public Television – PBS, WTVS-Channel 56; he also has written a book about painting and creativity, called “Point of Art” and a “how to paint” book, called The Power of Positive Painting.  Robert received a bachelor of Music from Wayne State University in 1983 and was a member of the WSU Board of Visitors and past President of the Wayne County Council for Arts, History and Humanities. He lived eight years in New York City where he completed an intensive professional acting training program at the Circle in the Square Theater and worked professionally in numerous film, television and stage productions.

In 1993 he made his Carnegie Hall debut with the New Renaissance Chamber Artists, an experimental ensemble of instrumentalists and actors. In 1995 he took up residency in New Orleans, returning home to Detroit in 1997, where he founded the Maniscalco Gallery. In 2005 he moved to the Charleston area where he is raising his two fantastic children. He married Cate Andersen in 2012. In 2005, he embarked on a vision trip to Haiti, which led to the Quench project. He wrote a book about his experiences, called Quench. He continues to be active in theater and has developed an instructional painting video and presents live performances, entitled, “The Power of Positive Painting.” Robert
Robert was one of the “Oprah 200 Men,” who were part of two extraordinary episodes in the final year (2010) of the Oprah Winfey Show, which shined a bright light on male childhood sexual abuse.


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