Halloween at the Steins

Halloween at the Steins

 

Things were abuzz in the Franklin Stein household on Halloween. Franklin’s wife, Mary Shelly, was hosting a party.

Shelly usually did all the work for the soiree herself, but this year she asked her friend Elvira to help. The girlfriends agreed: a sit down dinner was out; a buffet was in, so guests could mingle. No elaborate seating charts and worrying about who wanted to drink the blood or eat the brains of a fellow guest.

And while Franklin would normally be watching football or gardening by moonlight, tonight he made a rare appearance in his wife’s kitchen.

“Shel, do you want cheese on these?” Franklin said.

“Yes, Muenster,” she said.

Franklin poked around in the refrigerator but his hands were so big he couldn’t grab the tiny packet of cheese. He pulled the whole drawer out and dumped it upside down. Packages of meats, cheese, sticks of butter and a plastic sheath of vacuum sealed brains scattered on the counter-top.

Shelly watched him from the corner of her eye as she arranged a platter, determined not to say anything. This is Franklin’s way of helping, she said to herself.

He ripped open the package of cheese and an entire pound of sliced Muenster flew across the counter. He slapped his gigantic palm down to stop it from skittering to the floor. He cut the Muenster into huge chunks with a knife and plopped them on each tongue sandwich. The sandwich tops teetered at strange angles on a large silver tray.

“How’s this?” he asked.

“Cuddle bear, you’re so helpful,” she said. She pulled his arm until he leaned down. She kissed his cheek. “Would you put it on the buffet table next to the fried crickets?”

Franklin grunted his agreement. He walked into the dining room with the tray balanced precariously between his hands.

Shelly started to gather up the spilled items when the door bell rang.

“Trick or Treat Shelly,” the woman on the porch said. The skin tight fit of the woman’s black dress was accentuated by her long black hair and lovely face.

“Vi, it’s great to see you,” Shelly said and gave her friend a hug.

“Hi Vi,” Franklin said. “Love the dress. Where’s D?”

“He can’t make it; he’s working graveyard shift, as usual.”

“Franklin, do you want to watch the game? Vi and I can handle the kitchen.” Shelly said. Franklin grunted and lumbered off to the living room.

Shelly took a pitcher of blood from the refrigerator and poured a glass for her guest. Vi took a sip. “Shel, you know my favorite blood type is B+? You’re such a dear.”

“What are friends for, right?” Shelly said.

She opened the refrigerator and pulled out festive bowls and platters with a variety of treats. There was bone marrow, sliced brains, blood sausage and pearl onions on skewers, hummus and baba ghanoush with pita chips, and a pot of ghoul-ash. Shelly prepared the secret family recipe given to her by Franklin’s mother. She put the stew on the stove to warm it.

Vi took each vessel and arranged them on the buffet table. When she came back to the kitchen, Shelly was stirring the pot with a wooden spoon and crying.

“Shel, what’s the matter?”

“I don’t know…the smell of the stew reminds me of the old country, when Franklin and I first got married. We’ve been together so long, he hardly looks at me anymore Vi. I hold these parties so he can see his friends every year, but I hope he also notices how much I care about him.”

“Oh honey, don’t try to figure a monster out, it doesn’t work.”

“But we used to be so…frisky. At our house in the countryside, we used to play a game. I’d run around the bedroom with a pitchfork and a candle shouting ‘Get the monster!’ Franklin loved that; ever since we moved to the suburbs he’s always going on about football and gardening. Vi, we’re becoming regular people. It’s terrifying.”

“Listen, I’ve been with Drac for 42 years, he met me when I was thirty-eight. I was just a baby. Do you think it’s easy being the seventh wife? No. He’s Transylvanian and I’m American, so there are big cultural differences. But we’re still together.”

“It’s hard with Franklin, he doesn’t talk much. Half the time, I’m trying to decipher his grunts.”

“It’s not easy for anyone Shel, but keep at it. Tell Franklin what you want. He’s not a mind-reader.”

Shelly sniffled. “I suppose you’re right.”

“Well of course I am. Now wipe your eyes girlfriend, you’ve got a party to host.”

The guests started to arrive. Mr. and Mrs. Mummy came first. The ghost of Edgar Allan Poe slipped in the back door and haunted the kitchen for a while. Then there was David the werewolf with his British girlfriend along with David’s zombie friend Jack and Jack’s wife. Finally, the headless horseman made a grand entrance with a freshly severed head, which got a big laugh.

###

By midnight, the guests had consumed most of the food and everyone had found their chatting partners for the evening. The doorbell rang again. Shelly was preparing the desserts, so she asked Vi to get it.

Vi opened the door to find the Jersey Devil with a half-empty bottle of tequila dangling from his tapered red claws.

“Vi, you look amazing.” He kissed her on the cheek and lingered there. “C’mon baby,” he whispered, “admit it – you’re glad to see me.”

She opened the door wider and stepped away from him. “Come in Virgil. It’s just like you to show up after dinner when you’re invited to a dinner party.”

“Yeah, uh, sorry,” he said and shucked off a coat he draped over his wings. He threw it on a nearby chair. “I stopped in Atlantic City for a few games of roulette. When I hit the Turnpike I ran into traffic. You know me baby, I gamble big. Where’s Shelly?”

“Did you know the headless horseman is here?” Vi said, diverting his attention.

“No way, where is my best dude? I’m here, so we can get this party started!” He shimmied his shoulders and his wings shook as he made his way into the living room.

“Okay Virgil, whatever. Clearly you need no invitation.”

Vi came back into the kitchen and rolled her eyes. “Shel, it was my ex! I didn’t realize you invited him?”

“I’m sorry Vi, I should have warned you. Franklin insisted. But Virgil is so unreliable, I never thought he’d make it.”

“No, no, it’s fine. I’m over him and his wild ways. I’ll say a few ‘Serenity Now’s’ and move on. But it’s a good thing Drac’s not here.”

“I keep telling Franklin our ‘special’ friends should be invited to the house separately, but he won’t listen.” Shelly sighed. “I hope Virgil doesn’t break anything. When he and the headless horseman get together…”

“I know,” Vi said. “I can’t believe I used to live with that devil. My life was chaos. It makes me so thankful I’m with Drac.”

Shelly pulled out a silver cloche covered plate from the refrigerator. “This might cheer you up, Vi. I got a dessert especially for you.” Shelly removed the cover and revealed a plate of lady fingers.

Vi clapped. “You shouldn’t have Shel, they look fantastic.” Vi took one of the lady fingers and proceeded to crunch away. “I love how you decorated the fingernails in orange polish, it gives them that extra textural element.”

The two friends cleared away all of the dinner plates with nary a fried cricket left. In the living room Virgil and the headless horseman led opposing teams in a game of charades. Edgar Allan Poe’s ghost was miming the 1958 movie title I Married a Monster from Outer Space but no one could understand him. Mrs. Mummy kept shouting Monster! Monster! but Poe was already on the word space.

Vi pulled Franklin aside and chatted with him. Shelly watched them talking. Franklin did his usual grunting and nodding. When they were done, Vi gave Franklin a hug, and he grinned like a little kid.

Shelly set out the desserts. But before anyone could dig in, Franklin stood up to his full seven and a half feet and said, “I want to say something.” The room quieted.

“Honey, thank you for a wonderful evening, you’ve outdone yourself this year. Let’s raise our glasses to my incredible wife Shelly,” he said.

“To Shelly,” the guests said in unison, raising their goblets of wine or blood.

###

As Franklin saw the guests off for the evening, Shelly and Vi washed the dishes together in the kitchen.

“Vi, you didn’t have to coach Franklin to make that speech tonight.”

“Shel, I knew you would think I put him up to it, but I didn’t, I swear. I told him you two were lucky to be so in love after all these years. He said those things on his own.”

“Come on, really?”

“Yes, really Shel. He loves you,” Vi said.

“You know, Franklin still surprises me sometimes. He may be a big oaf, but he’s my big oaf and I love him too Vi.”

“I know you do hon. It’s getting early, I’m going to try and catch D before he climbs into his coffin. Call me tomorrow.”

Shelly wrapped the left over lady fingers for Vi to take home. The two friends hugged and Vi left. Shelly began to dry the dishes when Franklin came into the kitchen and leaned down to nuzzle her ear.

“Did Vi tell you what she and I talked about tonight?” Franklin said.

“That she was impressed we were still in love after all these years, I know,” Shelly said.

“Shel, of course I love you, but that’s not it. First she said you’re the best friend she’s ever had. Then she said it was time for you and me to rekindle our flame.”

“That was sweet of her, I’m glad you had a good chat,” Shelly said.

“It wasn’t just a good chat, it was great advice. It reminded me of something we used to do.” He went to the drawer and pulled out a candle and matches. His mouth spread into the boyish grin Shelly knew well.

“Let’s make our own fun for Halloween this year,” he said. “I think the pitchfork is in the closet…”

Shelly laughed. “Oh Franklin, you say the most romantic things.”

 

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Flash Fiction: A Million Times

You’ve heard this one a million times. A girl is standing on the corner in the East Village with her French bulldog, Lola. The girl is waiting for the light to turn so she can cross the street, but this guy comes along in Italian loafers and the bulldog piddles on the loafers. I know, it’s cliché.

As you’d expect, Italian loafers takes the girl to small claims court because the shoes are ruined. He doesn’t care that she apologizes umpteen times, or that Lola is old and having bladder problems. The small claims court judge rules in favor of Italian loafers because an owner should be able to control their animal.

But here’s where things get interesting.

Turns out, by some twist of fate, the girl runs into the judge in the courthouse hallway after the proceedings. I think he was on his way to the men’s room (speaking of bladders) and she walked up to ask him a question. She was attracted to the judge, which is odd since he ruled against her. Didn’t matter.

The judge considered whether or not he’d ask the girl on a date. He decided it was a bad idea. He imagined that one boomeranging on him. Not on the first or second dates, but later, after they’d slept together a few times. He knew she’d throw the Italian loafers ruling in his face. He didn’t want to take the chance, even though the girl was cute and he’d been divorced a few years. It wasn’t necessarily easy to keep doing the dating thing.

Meanwhile, the Italian loafers guy made out like a bandit, but the last laugh was on him because after he left the courthouse, he got hit by a bike messenger. Yep. He wound up in the hospital with a severe concussion. Clearly, the guy didn’t pay enough attention on the street. In Manhattan you need to be on your toes, not checking Facebook every five seconds; but this guy was looking at his phone and sustained a head trauma.

It’s just how it happened. What can you do?

All of this is rote. It’s a story we’ve been told so frequently we nod as we hear the part about the head trauma. It’s expected you’re not going to like Italian loafers guy. First, he’s walking around Manhattan in an expensive pair of shoes, then, on top of that, he takes the girl to court. And even though his shoes got ruined, and he did nothing but stand on a street corner, the reader expects the writer to exact retribution against the guy for not accepting the girl’s apology. Besides, everybody loves a French bulldog named Lola. Let’s face it, that’s not working in the guy’s favor.

But, the thing is, the writer never explained that those shoes were given to him by his girlfriend as a college graduation gift. A girl he later married. The guy was distracted by his phone because he’d been waiting for a text from his wife. She was going into labor any second with their first kid. He was checking the phone for incoming texts, just like he’d been doing every five minutes because he was a nervous father-to-be.

So, there’s an unresolvable conflict. Now the reader could like the guy, because he’s going to be a dad and it seems like he got the raw end of the deal with the ruined shoes. And he wound up in the hospital and missed the birth of his first, and what would turn out to be, his only child. The guy seems like a regular saint, right?

What’s a reader to do?

Really, all of this is proof you can’t trust writers. I’m not talking about me, because I’m the narrator. I’m reliable. I’ve been telling you nothing but the truth from the get go. But those writers, they’re a crafty bunch. They split the road, then split it again and take not just the path less traveled, they create a new road no one saw before. They like tricking the reader that way, and somehow, the reader likes it.

My talk on short story submissions – 4/30/14

Hi everyone,

If you are a “local” reader in the Jersey City area, I wanted to let you know I will be giving a talk at the Jersey City Writer’s group (http://jerseycitywriters.org/about-us/) on 4/30/14 at our “IndieGrove” location. (http://indiegrovejc.com)

The presentation is called Submit It or Quit It – Short Stories. It’s an encouragement and challenge to the writer participants of our group to commit to submitting their work this year.

I’ll be discussing my journey as a published short story writer, sharing information on how to find markets to submit your stories, and providing materials to help keep you organized during the submission process from pre-submission, through response and post-submission.

After my presentation, there will be a panel discussion with 3 or 4 writers and a moderator. The panel participants haven’t been finalized yet, but from what I’m seeing so far, it should be a very exciting group of people.

To attend the Submit It or Quit It presentation, you can go onto the MeetUp website, and sign up. There are lots of events hosted by Jersey City Writers, so if you are a writer in JC… please join us!

Jersey City Writers

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Jersey City Writers is a community of dedicated scribes who seek to develop and explore their craft by interacting with other writers. We inspire and support each other to be …

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Review: if i would leave myself behind by Lauren Becker

if i would leave myself behind

Lauren Becker’s new short story collection, if i would leave myself behind, is being published by Curbside Splendor and should be released by June this year, according to the publisher.

An image of Ms. Becker

I received a review copy of the book, because when I reached out to the publisher to purchase it, they offered to send it if I would write a review. I said sure.

I’ve followed Ms. Becker’s work for a few years, and I’m also a big fan of Corium, the literary magazine she edits. She’s been kind enough to send me editorial notes on my submissions from time to time.

Don’t let the diminutive size of the physical book fool you, or the brevity of the stories, some of which are a slender page, this collection packs an emotional wallop.

All of the main characters in these stories are women, most in severely damaged relationships, some of those relationships are of the woman with herself, and others are disfunctional co-dependent relationships with men. In some cases, there are dying family members too.

willow is a brief internal reflection of a woman suffering with anorexia. There is a Good Willow and a Bad Willow, depending on what she is eating.

In boilerplate, an unnamed woman describes an unpleasant one night stand where she has offered herself up to a man she doesn’t like. She says, “We stared into each other’s eyes for the couple of minutes it took to accomplish his ambivalent satisfaction. Neither of us cared about mine.”

And in tipped a young woman also struggles with body image issues. This paragraph in particular made me laugh: “I was still losing weight. He asked why I was getting skinny. He held my hips when we kissed and put his hands around my belly from behind sometimes when I was brushing my teeth, which I hated. I would like to meet one girl in the world who likes having a guy touch her stomach.”

after the girls of summer describes a horrific relationship with a woman and her abusive boyfriend. The story begins, “When he is sweet, Alex runs his right thumb along Shelly’s left eyebrow. The thick hairs mostly cover the scar where he split her skin for the first time.” And perhaps the most haunting line in that story, “She is the way he made her.”

The 29 stories in this 112 page collection are relentless. They can be read quickly, but when you feel the air squeezed out of your lungs from the horror these women face, day after day, in their cruel lives, with their narcissistic partners, or their disapproving mothers, or dying fathers, it’s a wonder to be able to get through it. But get through it you must, because Ms. Becker’s women characters are compelling in their despair; they are complex in their nonchalant acceptance of their abuse of their bodies and their minds.

New Flash Fiction essay on Jersey City Writers Website

Hi all, I wrote a brief 500 word piece called A Few Words About Flash Fiction for the Jersey City Writers website. It was posted yesterday.

The piece has numerous links to some of the top literary journals that publish flash, and other resources that will be of interest to anyone who wants to write Flash Fiction.

Please give your click love here to read it:

http://jerseycitywriters.org/a-few-words-about-flash-fiction/

I will also put a link to this piece on my Published Stories page for future reference.

 

A Review of Etgar Keret’s The Nimrod Flipout

I’m always on the hunt for great short story collections, and in the last few months I’ve purchased several. As I finish them, I’ll review them here in case you are also looking for examples of finely crafted stories.

Etgar Keret is an Israeli writer who has had several short story collections published, and translated from the original Hebrew into many languages. Thank goodness for that.

I procured 3 of Keret’s compliations including The Nimrod Flipout, The Girl on the Fridge, and Suddenly A Knock on the Door.

I relate strongly to Keret’s work. His stories are written succintly, and with great humor and a sense of the surreal in the everyday.

The first story in The Nimrod Flipout is called Fatso, about a man who meets the most beautiful woman and dates her. Eventually he finds out she has a secret … that when she falls asleep, she becomes a large, fat hairy guy at night. Fatso likes to watch soccer on TV and go out drinking. In Keret’s world, there are no boundaries for “what can happen” and in this story, the boyfriend continues to love the beautiful woman during the day, and befriends Fatso at night, coming to enjoy his company and root for his favorite soccer team.

In another story, Bottle, a man comes into a bar and meets a college student and a musician there, and the man puts the musician inside a bottle, as a trick. This story is only three paragraphs long, and was originally published online at KGB Bar and Lit Journal, so if you want to read Bottle and 2 other Keret stories, you can click here:

http://kgbbar.com/lit/fiction/three_stories_bottle_pipe_asthma_attack

And while most of Keret’s work is funny, some of it digs at the difficulties Israeli’s face in their culture. In the title story, The Nimrod Flipout, several friends are “flipping out” and dealing with bouts of mental illness as they remember their friend who committed suicide. You get the idea that these men are dealing with the aftermath of having served in the Israeli military together. Each of guys deals with the situation in his own way, but they all go a little crazy, one at a time.

I would strongly recommend The Nimrod Flipout and Keret’s work. Although I haven’t read the other two collections yet, I will. Nimrod was written in 2006, but the stories are self-contained and I think they will stay fresh and unique in their perspective because of it.

New Story – The Temple Maiden – Live on Gone Lawn!

My new flash story, The Temple Maiden, is now live on Gone Lawn, Issue 13.

Please read it by clicking here: http://journal.gonelawn.net/issue13/Deminski.php

Once again, many thanks to Yarrow Paisley for her editorial encouragement and acceptance of this piece.

Fyi – many of the details in this story are based on a trip I took to Oaxaca, Mexico in 2011. Photos of this trip are here: https://cdeminskiphotos.shutterfly.com/oaxaca

I saw, and photographed, many of the items mentioned: black pottery specialized to that region; the turquoise encrusted skull in the museum highlighting artifacts from Monte Alban. Also, I personally climbed the pyramid mentioned in the story and visited the church at the top.

A permanent link to this story is on the Published Stories page of this blog, so you can easily find it and read it again if you like!

New Story Accepted by Gone Lawn!

I got some wonderful news today from Yarrow Paisley, one of the editors of Gone Lawn. They have accepted my flash fiction piece The Temple Maiden for publication in Gone Lawn, #13.

And in my acceptance note, Ms. Paisley wrote, “The writing is lovely and mysterious, withholding as much as it offers to view, and it’s just the sort of piece we enjoy featuring in our little mag!”

Wow, thank you! Yes, you better believe I’m proud enough of a comment like that to want to share it. 🙂

As with all stories, when it goes live I will post an announcement with a link here, and then the permanent link will go on the Published Stories page.

Finally, this piece is a milestone for me. It is the 30th item I’ve had published since I began re-investing in my writing 3 years ago. It’s humbling to even think of all the editors who have supported me to get to this place.

 

 

Tranvestite and National Book Award Winner William T. Vollmann

For some strange reason, William T. Vollman recently came across my radar. I hadn’t heard of him before, yet another testament to how out of the loop I am on contemporary literature.

First, there was a the Newsweek article “The Lush Life of William T. Vollmann” from November 6th, two weeks ago; quickly followed by a New York Times piece “William T. Vollmann: The Self-Images of a Cross Dresser” on November 13th, four days ago.

The articles have been published to promote the release of The Book of Delores, who is Vollmann’s alter-ego when he cross-dresses, something he has been doing for a long time but only decided to “go public” with now. (Although he comments in the NY Times article, he has ‘shielded’ his wife from his cross dressing, and he asks the reporter not to interview her since she doesn’t know about that part of his life.)

I came to find out in my wanderings that Vollmann won the National Book Award for Europe Central in 2005, and he also won a PEN award for The Atlas, a 450+ page tome of short stories.

All the recent coverage, plus the evocatively strange personality of the writer, drove me to find out more about the author’s work. (Yes, it’s no surprise: titillation sells.)

Yesterday I went to The Strand (my favorite bookstore in New York City) and piled my basket with Vollmann tomes: The Book of Delores, Europe Central, The Atlas, and Rainbow Stories – the last two being collections of short stories. I hopped on the elevator to the third floor Rare Book Room and ensconced myself in an overstuffed armchair to begin digging into the texts.

The Book of Delores is what it says it is – the investigation of Vollmann’s alter-ego Delores over many years. Vollmann has had a long standing fixation with prostitutes, and has sought out these sex workers all over the world and then written about his experiences in his many works. In Delores, he portrays himself as a painted whore, with all the trappings of the trade.

Vollmann as Delores

Vollmann as Delores

I found the images grotesque.

I’m not sure what Vollmann hopes to accomplish with the publication of this book. Perhaps the breaking down of taboo barriers, although I don’t believe this book will do that. “Delores” doesn’t accurately represent femininity, or masculinity either.

It seems self-indulgent on Vollmann’s part to inflict this particular face to the world; although it is his right to do so as a part of his artistic expression.

After my tour of Delores, I picked up Europe Central. After reading the first three pages, I was reminded of James Joyce’s Ulysses. While it seems like it might be readable, it confronts the reader at every turn to defy narrative. I freely admit I didn’t give Europe Central more of a chance, and put it back in the pile of books I wasn’t going to buy.

Then I picked up The Atlas. As with Vollmann’s other works, the collection (from what I’ve read thusfar, about 60 pages) is obsessed with prostitutes in exotic locations. But the language is stunning, and the emotional resonance of some of the shortest stories is intense.

Yes, that’s probably the best description of Vollmann: intense.

But why is it that when men write about whores they win writing awards and make names for themselves?

Earlier this year I wrote about Arnon Grunberg’s Blue Mondays, which I stumbled upon in an Amsterdam bookstore. I had simply asked for a well known local author who had been translated into English and was handed the book. I had no idea what it was about. Grunberg won a Dutch award for best debut novel for that work, which is an account of a young man’s many experiences with prostitutes in Amsterdam.

Where are the women writers claiming their own sex as a right of passage in their literary works and making big names for themselves?

Anais Nin’s Delta of Venus? Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness where she describes her life as a lesbian, cross dressing as a man? Or how about Lydia Yuknavitch’s The Chronology of Water, a memoir where she explores being sexually abused as a child, and then a disastrous marriage, miscarriage, devolving into severe drug abuse etc. Perhaps Elise Schappell’s Blueprints for Building Better Girls, a short story collection I reviewed earlier this year, with women characters who really scared me. Maybe that’s a good thing.

Lolita is a classic, taught every year in universities in mainstream literature classes. If it wasn’t for my Women’s Studies classes, I would never have known about The Well of Loneliness, which I read in college. I should add, I never attended a lit class where I was required to read Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook either.

But none of my rantings take away from William T. Vollmann’s command of the English language, and the force of his artistic vision as I understand it (so far) in The Atlas. His character studies of the prostitutes and the world in which they live is emotionally compelling reading.

I just wish there were some highly decorated women writers who have positively claimed their sex as a part of their writing too and made their careers more successful by doing so.

New fiction up on Failbetter!

Given the generous support of editor Thom Didato and editorial staff at Failbetter, my very short micro-fiction work “Holocaust” is now live and available for your reading pleasure!

Please give the story some readerly love, by clicking the link:

http://failbetter.com/49/DeminskiHolocaust.php?sxnSrc=ltst

It’s a funny thing about this work… I wrote it several years ago, and the piece was accepted over a year ago by Failbetter and is now getting some public sunlight.

It’s ironic to me because the entire story is about 200 words. But writers need to cultivate patience to get their works published, and I’m extremely pleased this piece is seeing the light of day.

A permanent link appears on my Published Stories page.

Enjoy!!

New flash fictions, Ozone and Belongings, up on Camroc Press!

I’m very excited to announce Ozone and Belongings have been published by Barry Basden, Editor of Camroc Press Review. This is the first time my work has appeared in this journal.

Camroc Press’s editorial emphasis is work that has a deep emotional focus.

These works are in company with several other pieces I’ve gotten published this year that I’ve challenged myself to write since they explore territory that goes far beyond what I’ve written in the past. It’s difficult to be so “naked” in front of a reading public, but it’s taught me about honesty in my work to “go there.”

I hope you’ll take a moment to read these pieces here: http://www.camrocpressreview.com/2013/10/carol-deminski.html

A permanent link to these works will be available on my Published Stories page.

Ozone is coming and other news

  • Camroc Press Review editor Barry Basden has reached out to let me know “Ozone,” a story he accepted a while ago, has been assigned a publication date of October 16th. When the story goes live I will post the link.
  • In other news, I had the opportunity to revisit the work of Goran Djurovic and will be creating a second blog post dedicated to additional images from his show Prime Time, along with an explanation of how I came to acquire the images. Stay tuned that will be coming out shortly.
  • A good friend of mine is visiting his family in Europe, finalizing a novel mss he’s been working on for a while and which I have been helping him edit. I’m on tenterhooks now that we’re in the end stages with the mss. I can see a time in the near future when the book will be published. I’ve been working alongside him on this project for a few years now and I’m ready for it to be completed.
  • Also, while in California recently I had the opportunity to visit the bookstore in the Ferry Building in San Francisco. That building is probably the least tourist oriented building on the waterfront, thank goodness. The store is called Book Passages, and I purchased a short story collection by Joan Wickersham called The News From Spain based on a recommendation from one of the staff. I’m about halfway through it. One thing I like about it is that every single story is titled “The News From Spain” and it manages to work that idea into the story.
  • But I wanted to mention the bookstore too, Book Passages, because it is so well curated from both a selection and staff perspective. I want to talk to someone who is reading a lot, and knows what I’m talking about when I say I like “Lahiri but not Proulx so much.” Bookstores like that are hard to find anymore. We all know Powell’s in Portland, OR is a national treasure, and The Strand in NYC too. These are established places of literary worship and we’re losing them to hand-held backlit screen devices that can deliver the content of a novel, but that cannot deliver the experience of reading an actual book and those devices definitely cannot replace the encyclopedic knowledge of an amazing bookstore staff. Nuh-uh.
  • Call me old fashioned if you want; but I consider myself a “Gutenberg-ist.” (Yes, I just coined the word.)