St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit


Skunks Dance

Skunks Dance Cover

Spivey Spillane’s grandmammy always said there were only two good reasons to kill a man — for cheating on a woman, and for serving drinks to a Yankee. She may have had a hand in winning the Revolutionary War, but even she never met the likes of Alabama Sam. Sam robs a bank under Spillane’s name, casts him in an obscene one-man play wearing only a pink tutu, and starts a betting pool on how many wieners he has. Despite the indignities Spillane suffers, he chases Sam across Gold-Rush-era California because Sam is the only one who knows the location of a hidden fortune buried somewhere in the hills.

Meanwhile in the present, seventeen-year-olds Amanda and Jet have rekindled an old childhood rivalry. Amanda is obsessed with finding the treasure of her infamous ancestor Spivey Spillane. Jet and Amanda’s feud comes to a head over an extended incident involving a broken window, an exploded car, and a charge of sexual assault with a candy Batman. Jet vows that he is going to find to Spillane’s gold before Amanda does, but it doesn’t take them long to realize that someone may have come this way already — someone who wants the past to stay buried.

Inspired by the rickety world of 1960s British-made Westerns, Skunks Dance is a tale of revenge, greed, and men in tutus.

“Karp doesn’t write treacle. It likely gives him hives. Nor does he invest insufferable perspicacity into characters who just got their driver’s license. What he offers instead feels like pan-sifted treasure from a genuine teen mind.”

Justin Hickey, Open Letters Monthly

“rollicking from the first, driven by quips and ostentatious characters … Skunks Dance is solid, sarcastic, and bombastic young adult fare”

Foreword Reviews

“Karp imaginatively combines absurdism and adventure with snarky teenage sleuthing and a sense of the macabre in this ambitious sophomore effort … A colorful, exuberant romp with an appealing fortune-hunting duo.”

Kirkus Reviews

“If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen my dramatic readings of the book where I was laughing so much I could hardly keep it together. I am such a fan of the camp!”

— Christy Jane, Tales of the Ravenous Reader

“I was getting myself into a truly addicting story … I had so much fun with this one.”

— Siobhan Caughey, Bibliophile Ramblings

“Karp has a skillful touch with vibrant phrasing, bigger-than-life characters and colorful description.”

BlueInk Review

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Radium Baby

Radium Baby Cover

The Pepperpots are dead — the world’s most famous scientists have been poisoned by a radioactive duck. But even though Sam Ticky is little more than a tumbleweed from Oklahoma, he is convinced he is the Pepperpots’ long-lost son.

The Sun Star Radio Corporation starts a nationwide search for the missing “Radium Baby,” but Sam runs into trouble when two other teenagers also claim the title. The Radio Corporation drags the three teens into a race around the world, in which Sam must fend off hornets the size of cats, a cannibal bishop obsessed with playing hide and seek, and an insane Texan robot manufacturer.

But who is the real Radium Baby? And how many people will Sam hurt to find out?

Radium Baby is a strange and exciting adventure about ambition, failure, and radioactive bath-water.

“Throughout this adventure novel, Karp’s madcap imagination keeps readers hungering for the final outcome, and his prose sparkles with his flair for the absurd … A devilishly rich, satisfying scientific confection.”

“Much like a brilliant episode of The Simpsons, this story synthesizes a greedy fistful of whimsical elements to hypnotic effect … Karp throws historical elements in with robots and giant hornets, keeping it all fresh by writing with acrobatic aplomb.”

Saintlike in Repose

How can you tell if you’re at the wrong funeral? A family arrive to mourn the death of their great-aunt, but everyone’s faces are strangely unfamiliar. With a sense of dread they begin to suspect they’re in the wrong place — it doesn’t even have any reviews on Yelp. They decide the only way to find out who’s really dead is to look inside the coffin, but how can they distract that nosey priest…?

Saintlike in Repose is a one-act comedy that had its première in February 2012 at the Valley Repertory Company.

Great-Aunt Isabel

Uncle Arnie on Fire

Lizzie Borden at the Family Reunion

“Rest in Peas”

Uncle Arnie is pushing 200 years old and lives in his all-comforts-included Funplex. His four nephews and nieces work to please him day and night, but when an unexpected guest stops by the evening turn nasty. The knives and forks come out and there won’t be much left of Uncle Arnie by the time they’re done with him. This play is a biting black comedy about greed, family and what wine goes best with Uncle Arnie.

Uncle Arnie on Fire is a one-act comedy that had its première in February 2011 at the Valley Repertory Company.