An Open Letter to the Big Time Reality TV Producer Who Thinks All Jobs in Alaska Are Cool

Dear Big Time Reality TV Producer Convinced All Occupations in Alaska Are Cool,

I see it like I’m right there with you. I see you sitting at your desk, a mounted moose head behind you, a big map of Alaska on the opposite wall, and your people shuffle in, all averted eyes and hang-dog expressions, one at a time admitting they’ve got nothing to out-Ax Men Ax Men. You curse them. One guy says he’s got an idea about having a camera ride along with a long-haul trucker. You ask him what’s the hook, what is the driver doing while on the road. Just driving, he says, maybe sometimes it’s dark out or the weather gets bad. You tell him the idea sucks. You’re set to fire him when Continue reading “An Open Letter to the Big Time Reality TV Producer Who Thinks All Jobs in Alaska Are Cool”

Satire: “He Writes in the Present Tense”

Bob’s note: The old woman here is, in my head anyway, a prototype for the old man in “The Carcassonne Dream.” Oh, and the tortured subject-verb relationships…well, that kind of the point.

Today fiction chooses him. Among the crowd circling the bookstore café, he is fastest to claim the open table. He powers up his laptop and smells the coffee brewing, hears the tempest roar of the cappuccino maker. This, he thinks, is writing.

He sets his fingers atop his keyboard, the artist poising for his muse. Nothing comes. He bemoans his feckless muse and switches to Facebook.

Those without tables see he is almost out of coffee. They circle, ready to swoop. For the sake of his writing he forgoes a refill. At the Überbooks café, it is literary trench warfare.

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There is a time in his past when Continue reading “Satire: “He Writes in the Present Tense””

Behind the Short Story: “First of a Fine Spectacle”

I’m honored that my short story / high farce “First of a Fine Spectacle” was selected for Pure Slush No. 7, Catherine refracted.

I’m a history buff. But I’ve not had much interest writing historical fiction. Or flash fiction. So historical flash?

What drew me was the collection’s theme: Catherine the Great. A canvas rife with legend, some deserved, others warped by time. If ever a life was writ large, it was Sophie/Katherina, Empress and Plutocrat of All the Russians.

Writing gold.

Nothing about the horse legends or string of lovers  grabbed me. I went for a Continue reading “Behind the Short Story: “First of a Fine Spectacle””

Masters of Voice: Donald E. Westlake

I wish I had discovered Donald E. Westlake years earlier than I did. He is a writing hero for his ability to tell a story and to make it zing. His The Ax is as terrifying a novel as I’ve ever read. His Parker character is legendary, but it’s the Dortmunder crew I love most.

Here are some favorite examples of his distinctive wit:

They, all of them, the men and the women’s auxiliary, too, were hunched over their drinks with that thousand-yard stare that suggests therapy was no longer an option. In short, the place looked like that section of the socialist realist mural where the workers have been utterly shafted by the plutocrats.

– Watch Your Back (2005) Continue reading “Masters of Voice: Donald E. Westlake”