Essay Daily always features fun and creative ways to think about writing essays. One of their ongoing events is their semi-annual advent calendar featuring one new essay each day of December leading to Xmas. This year’s theme was cover essays. Think like cover songs, but with essays. Participating writers chose an essay to cover and wrote an original piece.
My essay, The Brain of Ozzy, is a “cover” of Roland Barthes’ The Brain of Einstein, which was in his collection Mythologies. What Einstein and Ozzy Osbourne have in common is a public interest in their brains – Einstein’s brain because of his genius and Ozzy’s brain because of his drug and alcohol tolerance.
Thanks to Essay Daily for featuring my piece! I’ve really enjoyed the other advent essays, too.
Fugitives and Futurists were kind enough to share my story, “Misoprostol.” The pic above is the image the editors of the site chose to accompany the story. It’s a very short piece of near-future science fiction that imagines how prohibition of reproductive rights will manifest similarly to drug prohibition. As someone who grew up around religion-based opposition to reproductive rights, particularly women’s reproductive rights, I see religion-appeasing prohibition as irrational policy and an ideological poison in our society.
My story, “If the Odds Don’t Change” is in the Winter/Spring 2021 issue of Euphony. The story follows Simon and Mickey, two high school teacher colleagues, on a frustrating ride home from a bar.
“If the Odds Don’t Change” was inspired by conversations I had many years ago with my friend, Bill Sweeney. Bill was the librarian for the Worcester Public Library in Worcester, Massachusetts and the librarian at Uxbridge High School when I was a student there in the 1990s. He was still the librarian at UHS when I taught there from 2003-2007. Bill and I both lived in Worcester and commuted back and forth to Uxbridge. When one of our vehicles was in the shop, we’d carpool.
Bill tended to keep to himself quite a bit at the school, which I understand. From his private nature arose rumors – some true, some not true. On our commutes together, I got to know Bill quite a bit better and quickly learned he was brilliant, a terrific storyteller, an astute reader, hilarious, and, above all, kind. Bill tolerated people that others often struggled to tolerate. In fact, he more than tolerated them – he treated them with kindness. Whether the person was a psychologically challenged student or a homeless person living on the streets of Worcester, Bill always saw the individual and quietly, without seeking attention, he nurtured them with support and respect. Never loud, never flashy, always helpful. Always brilliant. He’d taken many college classes as a non-degree seeking student because he loved learning. I learned from Bill every time we spoke, and from observing him with students.
I’d been in Arizona for nearly a decade when Bill was in the accident that took his life. I hadn’t spoken to Bill since I moved west, but my friends who still worked with him let me know he’d been seriously injured right away. They knew he meant a lot to me. I wonder if he knew, too.
If you’re from UHS and you read this story, you will recognize Bill as Simon. You may also recognize Mickey. Please know that Mickey was constructed from my experiences with and feelings about the person he’s modeled after, not Bill’s. Bill was kind and accepting of everyone. I’m still struggling to get there.
I will update this post when Euphony puts the Winter/Spring 2021 issue online. If you’re a present or past UHS teacher or alum, send me a message and I’ll send you a .pdf of the story.
Gregorio Tafoya, editor of Little Rose Magazine, read my story in Hobart (Hari Kari) and dug it enough that he invited me to contribute something to his site. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to share my story, Everyday Augury. I found plenty of interesting reads on Little Rose, so check them out.
Everyday Augury takes place in Wal-Mart and involves soothsaying. Hope you dig it.
The new print edition of Rain Taxi features my review of Anne-Marie Kinney‘s new novel, Coldwater Canyon. It’s kind of a Hollywood noir story told from the perspective of a stalker. Unsettling and compelling. As you can read in my review, I enjoyed it.
You can read the review from Rain Taxi. (You gotta buy it; it’s the print edition).
I remember reading The Worcester Review in Tatnuck Booksellers in the mid-nineties as an undergrad at Assumption College and thinking it would be cool to see words I wrote in print. It only took me twenty years, but my story, Swamp Yankee, is in volume 39 of The Worcester Review. It’s a story about a man defending his herd of alpacas from a mysterious predator while a ghost stalks him from the underbrush of his memory. It takes place in Worcester County and it feels good to publish it back home.
Manifest West: Transitions and Transformations is the Fall 2018 installment in this series from Western Press Books. I’m happy to say that my story, Ponderosa, is featured among so many other great stories. As a wanderer named Phillip and his dog Osa explore a Ponderosa pine forest on Arizona’s Mogollon Rim, the lines between Phillip’s interior and exterior worlds are blurred. I learned a lot about pine forest ecology while writing it.
This edition also includes a story from my good friend, Lisa Levine, as well as Arizona poets Mark Haunschild and Cynthia Hogue.