Month: June 2017

Honorable Mention

Earned by “Colorful Whateverisms,” the lead piece of short fiction in “Parts Department.

http://www.glimmertrain.com/pages/finalists/2017_03_04_mar_apr_fo_hm.php

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My Latest: “Parts Department”with Author’s Notes

Paperback is for sale on Amazon. Also available in Kindle and iBooks format. Can also be purchased direct from Lulu. 

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Nine short fiction pieces – a mix of dark humor with a dash of surrealism. Souls adrift, the blues, and the underlying quest for home and happiness.

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NOTES ABOUT THE 9 STORIES … by the author

The collection begins with a story about home and location with the protagonist wondering “where to go or what to do next?” It ends with a story of the same type. This led me to the Faulkner quote as the epigraph.

Story 1-  Bayberry is a wayward character long-held in a dusty trunk, a figment on faded typing paper. Here he’s cut to size and freed to the public page, surrounded by haunts and strange visions…and thereby buried for good (along with any other attempts to describe Key West).

2 – Written in appreciation of Hemingway’s “After the Storm.” I had an idea of layering and humans living in husks. I wanted to use a squabbled-over domestic treasure as opposed to a sunken ocean liner.

3-  “Advanced Level of Play” could have been more about Masked Man but the road led to video games and to Stan Birchard, a reclusive resident from Oceanaire, who crosses over (as do others in later stories).

4 – “Along the Fall Line” is adapted from a fragment left on Oceanaire’s cutting room floor…a scene with a pretty girl on rollerblades. Having it take place in Columbia, SC was the biggest leap. The theme of “fall from grace” fit the river geography and set up the storyline.

5 – “Orange Bowl Days” is an attempt is to make memorable characters in captured moments…odd moments maybe, like Ulyanna in the tub studying a pharmacology book, or the South Beach scene with Harry and writer Ralph Z. Dupree. At one time I wanted to write a novel using the line (which I like) about Harry being choppered off a fishing boat, but this was all it was.

6 – The next two stories are tied via Teri and her mother Anna and crazy father John. They seemed an inevitable part of the collection, gloomy as they are. Maybe some will see humor.  The niece character Shannon is a reimagined representation of a girl I knew when a teenager in Sandbridge, VA. She lived in her aunt’s house that summer, but in real life didn’t disappear from there…she disappeared from me.

7 – Is mercifully short. A shot, so to speak, at Southern Grotesque. I liked the name of Soso as a town. Visions of a place like Soso (plus a real-life 2015 drive to Aiken on a bleak country highway) started the whole setting. The ruined scenery evoked an atmosphere of mediocrity and nihilism.

8 – “Blue Chile” steals again from Oceanaire, using the character Beto the flight attendant. I appointed his sister as narrator and opposite personality type. It is a morality play of sorts, involving faith, situational ethics, religion, and even a bit of sibling rivalry.  The lawyer /wheeler-dealer character Eligio Carnación crosses over from Oceanaire.

9 – Some familiar names pop up in the last piece. It’s a New Orleans vignette, a slice from an abandoned sequel to Houston Chemical. This story also has character intersections with other stories and novels. Those sort of ties matter to me in my fabulist world. I don’t expect others to realize the connections; at best they raise curiosity.

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Reading & Writing Doldrums

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The doldrums require patience and, among other things, a stronger sense of audacity to break free.

Who’s to say when and if audacity to write returns.

Reading-wise, it’s now a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel called “Autumn of the Patriarch.” And so far I’m staying with it, interested in both its content and style. It’s helped.

Wading in full-explosion novels seems to re-kindle the connections between reading something creative and launching an effort to do it oneself.

(purpose of this blurb was to continue this series of posts on the May-June blues as muttered in installments below).

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Where are the usual book reports? And where is my latest novel draft?

Recent bouts of unsatisfied reading with stops and starts. Somehow it’s tied to not writing. Feeling frustrated with both activities has extended the dry spell. It’s been difficult to get to the Place.

Being hung up is not an unusual situation for a writer. There are many factors.

Writers often need some remedy or sea change to get back to re–find the vibrancy and focus of the Place.

But of course getting there can be complicated. Vows and affirmations don’t make it so.

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Since the first post (below) of this string, I’ve read part of “Lila” by Robert Pirsig. Wish it were otherwise, but couldn’t stick with the conflation of fictional narrative and philosophic essay.  I had to jump to text that’s more cleansing like by Raymond Chandler or Elmore Leonard, where “sentences say what they need to say and leave the stage.”

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Books are turning over fast lately. Lots of rejections. The table has been empty more often than not. Nothing has hit it for me.

Hoped it would be some PD James but as good a writer as she is, I just couldn’t hang with the whole book.  There was that loudening sense of being in a movie theater, trapped in another of Hollywood’s cloying middle sections that they pawn off in the name of character development.

Tried re-reading some bookcase faves but due to my distraction, they left me in the same cotton-headed condition.  Ventured back to Proust and went about fifty pages deep in “Guermantes Way” – no harm done.  Actually the narrative was getting better, but after the first two big ones, it’s time to take a long Marcel break.

I went to “Solitudes” by an old Spanish poet named Luis Góngora. It’s loaded down with classical myths material, not the kind of content I care too much for, but his language and poet’s toolbox are remarkable. He’s from John Donne days. His “Gongorisms” are extended conceits with (back then) radical use of imagery and metaphor.

nauseaAfter a few days of blah’s approaching illness, plus some bedrest and some magazines, I picked up Sartre’s novel “Nausea” again.

Even in cheerful Florida one can get the yips.

Each time Sartre’s book gets better. Crisper. Bleaker. Sadder…and truer, if you have journeyed down the road and can recognize or are experienced in existential dread.