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After some production struggles, my novella The Bourgeois Anarchist, featuring 66-year-old militant Susie Alioto, is on track to be released this fall by Finishing Line Press. You can order the book at the publisher’s site, and it will soon be available on Amazon, Bookshop.org, and elsewhere.

Oddly, I haven’t yet boasted about what my distinguished writerly acquaintances have said about the book. I’ll make up for that right now. Here’s the advance praise that’s come in so far (and if you’d like to add to it, feel free, especially if you have a million Twitter followers):

The Bourgeois Anarchist is an engrossing tale of an aging pacifist’s struggle to live her ideals as she’s enveloped by the dangers of anarchic activism and the violence of big city capitalism.
—Alan Drew, author of Shadow Man and Gardens of Water

If you’ve ever wondered what you would do in a time of crisis … you’re doing it right now. Susie Alioto is doing her thing too … marching, banner-waving and trying to reconcile her anarchic principles with her non-violent beliefs, in an America where non-violence seems to be increasingly impossible. As tensions rise in her rapidly gentrifying district of Philadelphia, a motley crew of cops, mobsters, pacifists and pseudo-anarchists invade Susie’s quiet existence. No wonder she’s feeling dizzy. A thoroughly enjoyable, and surprisingly gentle, story of love, duty and politics.
—Orla McAlinden, author of The Accidental Wife and The Flight of the Wren

When it comes to political convictions, our younger selves are bound to judge our older selves, and harshly. The charm of this novella is the way it presents this subject with such a light touch, such generosity, and such affection for its characters.
—Simone Zelitch, author of Judenstaat, Waveland, and Louisa

It’s antifa vs artisanal coffee in this absorbing and timely Philadelphia story about the difficulties of living out one’s radical principles in the most orderly way possible.
—Elisabeth Cohen, author of The Glitch

An earlier post included an image of a poster Susie keeps on her refrigerator: a portrait of her special anarchist hero, Errico Malatesta (a real historical figure), with his most famous saying, “Impossibility never prevented anything from happening.” When I wrote the book, this poster did not actually exist, so I created it. Anyone who requests it via the Contact page can have a high-res JPEG or PDF copy for free, to post in the kitchen (to puzzle friends) or on the front door (to attract police scrutiny).

Wonderland Stories

May 3, 2021

My pandemic productivity hasn’t been great, but by chance I have three works of fiction being published this spring. My short story “Crabs,” originally in Wilderness House Literary Review, has been selected for The Best Short Stories of Philadelphia 2021, edited by Matthew M. Perez.

A new piece, “Wonderland Stories,” a four-part exploration of the way we’re always telling ourselves stories—and consequently not seeing what’s in front of our noses—has just appeared in Beloit Fiction Journal.

Finally, we’re getting closer to the pub date for my novella The Bourgeois Anarchist, which can be preordered here.

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.