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Book Launch

November 23, 2021

We’ll be officially launching The Bourgeois Anarchist on November 30, 2021, via Zoom, at 7 p.m. Eastern.

Being a taciturn curmudgeon, I’m extremely lucky to be joined by Elizabeth (Libby) Mosier, an extraordinary writer who’s a much better conversationalist than I am. Most likely, Libby will ask intelligent questions to which I will give confused, nonsensical answers. It should be fun!

To witness this spectacle, and maybe ask questions of your own, you have to register in advance for the Zoom link. The event will be hosted by our friends at Main Point Books in Wayne, PA, which is offering signed copies of the book.

Blurred Choices

November 17, 2021

Ellen Prentiss Campbell, an award-winning fiction writer and member of the National Book Critics Circle, has kindly reviewed The Bourgeois Anarchist in Tiferet Journal. Throughout the novella, she notes, “the lines between good and bad, right and wrong, blur”–proving she firmly grasped the book’s main theme.

Though the magazine is available by subscription only, I can offer a quote from the end of the piece, summarizing her take on the 66-year-old protagonist, Susie Alioto:

Susie is an irresistible force. Readers, especially those of a certain age, aficionados of Anne Tyler’s quirky heroines, will enjoy Susie. She carries the baggage of years of living and experience with almost reckless, youthful abandon. And begins to reckon with some skeletons in her own closet and to figure out what’s next.

You can purchase the novella on Bookshop.org.

Out of My Shell

November 5, 2021

Over the past couple of months, in an attempt to promote my novella The Bourgeois Anarchist (Finishing Line Press), I’ve done three interviews with obliging bloggers. They were fun, especially when I could give a subversive answer to the questions. Here are the links, with a few selected quotes:

Hasty Book List, by Ashley Hasty:

Q: Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with:

A: Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. I might try, with no luck, to woo her away from Darcy. More to the point, she’d understand how to get us out of the elevator.

Q: Place I’d most like to travel:

A: Berkeley, CA, where I went to college. I’d like to connect somehow with the idealist I was then, though it’s probably impossible.

Linda’s Book Bag, by Linda Hill:

Q: What can we expect from an evening in with The Bourgeois Anarchist?

A: You’ll fall in love with Susie [the protagonist], I can almost guarantee it. She’s tremendously good-hearted, an idealist, and about ten times as tough as you’d guess from her diminutive size. And yet she gets entangled in a situation that proves almost too much for her.

The plot includes arsonists, mobsters, sleazy cops and life-threatening violence, but the real focus is Susie’s conflicting loyalties and difficult moral choices. She’s long been an anarchist, at least theoretically—she spent two decades in a militant commune—but now her principles leave her floundering in her time of need. You might say the quandary involves her head versus her heart, but her head is on both sides, and her emotions are flipping about like butterflies.

Jerry’s Circumlocution, by Jerry Harwood

Q: What does literary success look like to you?

A: Groupies! But where are they? Why don’t I have any?

——————

Okay, that’s enough silliness for one post. Check out the links if you want more.

Susie Hits the Streets

August 22, 2021

No, Susie Alioto, protagonist of The Bourgeois Anarchist, hasn’t taken to prostitution. As a lifelong, principled anarchist, she would support anyone’s freedom to choose that profession but, for herself, would eschew any hint of trading sex for capitalist compensation. In the novella, oddly, she may find herself in such a situation unwittingly. You’ll have to read the book to find out.

What I meant by the headline “hits the streets” is that the book is finally published. It’s available on capitalist Amazon, less capitalist Bookshop.org, and elsewhere. Because I’m a klutz at publicity, Susie has to get out there and shill for herself. If you see her hawking the book on a street corner, be kind and toss her a nickel.

So far I have managed to do one interview on her behalf, published today on Hasty Book List by Ashley Hasty. Though I’d rather hide under the sofa than do an interview, this one wasn’t too bad. In a sense it represents my coming out. I reveal myself as a fashion leader and also as a long-time devotee of Jane Austen. The latter, at least, may be rather shameful for a hetero male writer, but I don’t care, I’ll flaunt it.

Years ago, when I was working on my novel The Shame of What We Are, very loosely based on my own childhood, I had the teenage male protagonist reading Jane Austen. Early readers, especially female friends, told me that was implausible, so I switched his literary interest to Isaac Asimov, whom I had also read as a teen. Jane was miffed at being left out, so now in this post, and in the linked interview, I’m trying to make it up to her.

An anecdote to show the silliness of my devotion: At some point I had checked out a hardcover edition of Pride and Prejudice from my local library, and I refused to return it. When the library tried to fine me, I even perjured myself by arguing that the missing book was their mistake. I can still picture my skinny little self lying to the fearsome, and much taller, lady librarian, who loomed over me behind her Counter of Authority. There was nothing special about that edition: its cover a plain blue or green, a library binding stamped on the spine only. But I may still have it—and I won’t give it back.

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.