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Susie Finds a Home

March 25, 2021

Some years ago, I wrote a silly novel-length mystery spoof that, thanks to the wisdom of the publishing industry, has never seen the light of day. The characters, though, have begged to come back in a more serious effort, especially Susie Alioto, a 66-year-old anarchist and single mother.

At last Susie is getting her due. Her new venue, a novella called The Bourgeois Anarchist, is coming out in July from Finishing Line Press.

After college Susie spent two decades in a radical commune, and her beliefs haven’t wavered. She marches for gun control, for Black Lives Matter, for action against climate change. She’s a leader in local groups that fight for justice and human rights.

You may wonder how the image on this post relates. Well, Susie’s special hero is the late Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta (1853–1932). For inspiration, Susie keeps this poster on the side of her refrigerator, where she communes with it every day. But her son Eric, an apolitical math nerd—named, to his chagrin, after Malatesta—thinks her politics ridiculous, especially since his mother’s current lifestyle is so middle-class. Privately he calls her the “bourgeois anarchist.”

The plot focuses on conflicts that develop when Susie gets involved with some young militants. It seems that her lifetime principles don’t match up with her intuitive sense of justice, and she faces a kind of existential crisis. The story also includes cops, capitalists, arsonists, mobsters, and a coffee shop (because we all need coffee shops). And of course there’s romance (because we all need romance). Along the way, Eric provides a skeptical perspective and some nerdy humor.

The book is now available for presale. Since my royalty rate for the life of the book depends on the presale volume, I’ll be extremely grateful to anyone who gives Susie a good home.

If you’re not sure you want to read Susie’s tale, here’s another incentive: A paperback novella is the perfect tool for domestic disagreements. When launched at your significant other, it’s big enough to show you mean business but not dangerous enough to hurt anyone. Don’t you need one today?

Blue Light

June 30, 2020

Blue LightLately I seem to be posting only when I have a new publication to promote. Guess I’ve been too depressed by Trumpism, police violence, virus deaths and the like to have many thoughts worth sharing.

However that may be, there’s another new piece of mine out there, a short story called “Blue Light” in Coal Hill Review. It has nothing to do with Trump.

Many thanks to Fiction Editor Christine Stroud for including this story in the latest issue.

A Dog for the Season

April 21, 2020

Despite nagging from the Spirit Animal who presides over this site, it’s been a while since I published a story in which a dog plays a major part. I hope the piece just issued in Cagibi, “The Goodbye Dog,” will make up for that dereliction of duty.

Since canines are one of our comforts during the ongoing pandemic, this is a perfect time to give one a title role.

The story did present a special challenge in that it required translations from two foreign languages: Italian and Boerboel. For any clumsiness therein, I apologize to Dante and to the Spirit Animal, respectively.

Elsewhere in the April issue, I recommend the essay by Robert Close. And the graphic here links to the cover page.

Baseball Magic

April 15, 2020

For those, like me, who are pining for baseball during our quarantine, a just-published story of mine relates to the game: “The Magic Ball,” included in the April 2020 anthology Onward! issued by Wordrunner eChapbooks.

I have to admit that the story doesn’t include much about the game itself, but it does feature a single signed baseball that has magic in it. Maybe.

You can download a PDF of the entire anthology at the main page. The publishers also invite comments on their Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Phillies, my home team, remain undefeated.

Apologies to both of my readers for the infrequency of my posts lately. I haven’t even been able to think of more insults for President Twitterman. I blame the news media for distracting me with genuine tragedies.

But here’s one announcement: My Kindle-format novel The Big Happiness has been featured on the website Snowflakes in a Blizzard, which spotlights writers who supposedly deserve more attention from the public at large. I don’t know how I qualified for this, but here’s the link.

Many thanks to Darrell Laurant, who runs the Snowflakes site.

A Silent Breeze

January 2, 2019

Isn’t it especially creepy when a threat makes no sound?

That’s what the protagonist faces in “A Silent Breeze,” my latest story now up on the Pithead Chapel site. It was a finalist in the magazine’s story contest judged by Silas House.

Here’s the link.

 

Sirens

December 21, 2018

On certain days in the city, they seem almost continuous, always in the background, waxing or waning, closing in or fading. Police sirens. Fire trucks. Ambulances. Maybe I imagine them when they aren’t there. But they always have to be there, don’t they?—because at any given moment, there must be an emergency somewhere.

Just as the dog says when he refuses to go out: “I don’t care if the sun is shining here, I hear thunder somewhere.”

Whether the threat is real or imagined, I imagined a character for whom it’s both imagined and real, and she’s in the Adelaide Awards Anthology for 2018, in a story called “Sirens.” If you can tolerate the interface called Anyflip, you can read for free here, starting on p. 77: http://online.anyflip.com/fypa/nifd/mobile/index.html

If you find Anyflip unbearably annoying, just flip it one and go listen to sirens on your own. They’re everywhere, like the thunder. 

All the Survivors

June 12, 2018

To supplement my last post:

All three installments of my long story “Survivors” are now up at The Piker Press. Here are the links:

First installment: http://www.pikerpress.com/article.php?aID=7014

Second installment: http://www.pikerpress.com/article.php?aID=7019

Third installment: http://www.pikerpress.com/article.php?aID=7028

Although I mentioned some sort of prize for anyone who completed all three installments of “Survivors,” nobody has taken me up on the offer. I guess few readers have survived the ordeal, which is understandable. 10,000 words is a deadly amount in our twitterage.

Two new stories

June 1, 2018

Two of my stories are being published this month, both of them somewhat peculiar (of course) but otherwise very different.

“Minus the Angels,” in Pif Magazine‘s June issue, is what I consider a very short piece, less than 1,500 words, though the magazine calls it “macro” fiction. However they label it, I’m grateful for the publication. It’s about a couple vacationing in Italy while one of them, the narrator, is recovering (or not) from an illness. Interestingly, the sex of the narrator is never specified, but the magazine has a photo of two men in the header. As I wrote the story, I did imagine the narrator as a man; but when I realized on revision that I hadn’t assigned a name or a pronoun, I decided to leave the gender unstated. If you could read the story without seeing the picture, and without knowing that the author is male, what assumption would you make?

Now, if you want REAL “macro” fiction, my story “Survivors” in The Piker Press is over 10,000 words—or will be, once all three installments are up. This piece is about a long-delayed reunion of a broken family, a get-together that perhaps should have been delayed even longer. I think there should be a prize for readers who survive all the way to the end of the work, but I don’t know what to offer. Maybe, if you contact me, I’ll burden you with another free story.

Yeah, I know, everyone’s been waiting for my latest insightful comments about President Twitterman, Paul Ryan, Steamy Dangles or whatever that porn star’s name is, and all the other pressing issues of the day.

Instead, I’ve published a story with “Polly wolly doodle” in it. Sorry.

If you strain your eyes, you may be able to parse the first lines in the image accompanying this post. And if that doesn’t discourage you, the rest of the piece can be found in the April issue of Adelaide. You have to read a ways into the story before polly and doodle appear, but they do live up to their names.

Many thanks to Adelaide‘s editors, Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco Nikolic, for accepting this story for their fine magazine, which is based in both New York and Lisbon. Without leaving my desk, I feel much worldlier.