BERWYN – Berwyn native Paul Barile has appeared in several television shows and commercials, as well as written and directed many plays and films. But of all his accomplishments, he’s most proud of publishing his first novel, “My Brother’s Hands.”
“This is something I did by myself – it’s just me,” he said. “It’s my work and my ideas. It’s a bucket list thing and a gift to my dad. No one can ever take this away from me. I’ve always wanted to write, and now, my stories are being told.”
The book, which Barile describes as “magic realism,” takes place in contemporary times and tells the story of Peter, an ordinary teen who one day discovers he has incendiary stigmata, but instead of blood, he shoots fire from his hands.
“Suddenly everyone’s interested in this kid, who was a nobody,” said Barile, 53. “But two preachers take him on a tent revival tour, and he metaphysically becomes a man. It’s lighthearted, a little twisted, has some satire and is an interesting indictment on organized religion.”
James Sparling, partner at Lexographic Press, said this is the first fiction book the London- and Chicago-based company has published. The company just hasn’t come across anything it wanted to publish prior to Barile’s novel, he said.
“We only publish three or four books a year, so we’re quite selective,” Sparling said. “But this is something people will engage with. It deserves to find an audience, and I think it will. Paul’s writing style is very approachable and different. But we are delighted to publish a work of this sort. It’s funny and a great story.”
Barile said he’s thrilled Lexographic Press “took a chance” on the book, which Barile began writing in 2001. He said he’s been working on it “off and on” since then.
“I can’t overestimate how good it feels that someone has that much faith in me to put a lot of money and time into my dreams,” he said. “This book is a tough genre, and I needed a publisher who wasn’t afraid to take it on. It’s a complete leap of faith on their part. But I’m more than just a number on someone’s spreadsheet.”
Several of Barile’s friends have already read the book, and he said most are “amazed” he wrote it.
“People say they had no idea I had it in me to write like that,” he said. “But they love it. People are buying multiple copies to share with others.”
Barile, who now lives in unincorporated Cook County but lived in Berwyn for 43 years, has been writing since he was a child. He said his love of writing came from his late father, whom he described as his role model.
“He got me into reading, and he read everything I wrote, so through my writing I was able to get some alone time with him. Writing was a direct connection with him,” Barile said. “I’d write crazy fiction stories. It was a way for me to get away from everything and control my environment. It’s a creative outlet and a way to express myself.”
Barile hopes people can enjoy some quiet time while reading his book, which is currently only available in print, but an electronic copy will be available in a few months.
“I enjoy actual books – the pages, the smell and the convenience,” he said. “When you’re sitting on a park bench with a cup of coffee and a book, you’re the king of the world. And if my book inspires someone else to start writing, then I know I’ve succeeded.”
Barile said having “My Brother’s Hands” published has given him more confidence, and he hopes to write another book in a few years.
“[There's] nothing I’m more proud of than having my book in my hand and knowing it’s my legacy,” he said. “A lot of my decisions are based on leaving a positive legacy. The world has to know I was here.”
If you go
Barile will be signing copies of the book from 1 to 4 p.m. Dec. 5 at Cigars and Stripes, 6715 W. Ogden Ave., Berwyn.
Buy the book
“My Brother’s Hands” is available on Amazon and at lexographicpress.com.
For information about Paul Barile, visit iampaulbarile.com.