Murder and the Father of American Diplomacy

We all know Ben Franklin as one of the nation's earliest Renaissance Men: scientist, printer, writer, businessman, scholar, politician, diplomat. Fireman. In David R. Andresen's short mystery Murder in a Blue Moon Ben takes a break from his more gentlemanly pursuits, such as chess, to solve a serial murder in Philadelphia. It's fall of 1752, the American Experiment … Continue reading Murder and the Father of American Diplomacy

Writing Prompts, Spellcheck, and Academic Advice

There are many, many reasons not to read Flash Fiction Funny while riding public transportation. The first and perhaps best reason is Taylor Mali’s The the Impotence of Proofreading, which will leave you bent over double and wheezing for breath, the workaday passengers all around contemplating the emergency brake at the back of the train. … Continue reading Writing Prompts, Spellcheck, and Academic Advice

Short Stories from the School for Damaged Children

Deep oppression pervades Brian Booker’s collection of seven stories Are You Here for What I’m Here For? (Bellevue Literary Press, 2016). The mood is confining, suffocating, maddening, the writing evocative of a heart pulsing beneath the floorboards of a cabin far from anywhere. Booker awakens---allays---awakens---allays---and awakens again profound tensions: Something is wrong. Everything is ok. But something is … Continue reading Short Stories from the School for Damaged Children

Memoir: Set This Submarine on Fire

Memoir’s a tough genre. For memoir to appeal to a broad audience its got to succeed in one of two ways. Either the voice asserts some irresistible quality: rich, engaging, dynamic, inspiring, insightful without being pedantic. Or the narrative relates circumstances of an extraordinary nature: the subject is a half-Kenyan young lawyer who rises to … Continue reading Memoir: Set This Submarine on Fire

Joe Camel, Still Cool

Yesterday a friend of mine posted our first-through-fourth grade photos online. Got me thinking about this old story in the hopper 20 years. I dragged it out and dusted it off and submit it now for your entertainment. It's all about that first cigarette. This is to the memory of those no longer with us, Trevor and … Continue reading Joe Camel, Still Cool

this is what i do when… #4

Summer fantasy surf quest  In Episode 4 of this is what i do when i should be... we recap skateboard and bike camp, move operations up to the beach, and take a stab at that notorious dragon, Smaug. True to form the conversation allows escape from what we really should be doing, which is reviewing Brian Booker's … Continue reading this is what i do when… #4

An ounce of hope, a Fifth of futility

Review: God in Neon by Sam Slaughter Sam Slaughter’s collection of stories features protagonists paddling up a great river of booze. Their strokes are futile, the current strong: with beer, tequila, whiskey, Old Crow, Jack, PBR. They struggle under the blurry burden of constant intoxication, their boozing not an act so much as a reality, … Continue reading An ounce of hope, a Fifth of futility

Short Fiction–Swimming

Peace Corps Worldwide carried the following review of Karl Luntta's Swimming from SUNY press. One thing is certain for foreigners at work in much of Africa: the proverbs can be as colorful as they are vague, utilitarian as they are vexing. The truth can emerge—or remain obscured—with a single phrase. Truth, in these proverbs, lies in the … Continue reading Short Fiction–Swimming

Broadcasting the Poetry of Horror

Review--Gateways to Abomination A parade of horrors files past in Matthew Bartlett’s Gateways to Abomination, accompanied by the strains of an otherworldly broadcast. The discord awakens both terror and fascination, makes our eyes pop even as we struggle to look away. The writing—poetic, detailed, traumatizing—gives lift to hairs we didn’t know we had at the back of … Continue reading Broadcasting the Poetry of Horror

baseball and birthdays

Back in January my son asked me to write him a story for his birthday. Three months later I’ve put the finishing touches on a 32k-word novel, my first in the lit-for-kids line. Vikram turns 8 next week. Among the themes (friendship, family, dreams) is baseball. With MLB opening day upon us, I thought I’d share a chapter. … Continue reading baseball and birthdays