Behind: “Dark Days for the Professor”

51mTezsunJL__SY346_Southern lit. Family conflict. Race and social issues. Push-pull of tradition. Sense of belonging to place, like it or not.

I don’t write it.

Or at least I hadn’t until earlier this year. So it’s a thrill that my “Dark Days for the Professor” has been included in NWMG’s Southern lit anthology Not So Fast.

So I don’t write Southern–themes generally or voice specifically–but I’m immersed in the South. And oddball humor? I am to oddball humor what cats are to my couch: hairy and all over it.

Game on.

I thought about this one a long while. For me, good Southern lit says something. Stuff gets real. Real real, no magic wind or giant bateau mouche. My first challenge was Continue reading “Behind: “Dark Days for the Professor””

The Fall and Rise of Draft One

Day One

We’re putting together an anthology,” they say. They have an email to prove it. Very few combinations of five words so excite The Short Story Guy. Maybe “short stories turn me on,” or “sure, we’re a paying market.”

It is not a literary style I’ve written in. Despite that, perhaps because of it, I am intrigued.

I fire up the idea engine.

Nothing happens.

Day Thirty

I have researched this strange literary technique, its shining authors and common subject matter. I have started and abandoned a few concepts. Having tossed out the chaff, now is the time of wheat. Surely, I think, an inspired idea is assured. Any time now.

Nothing Happens.

Day Thirty-Seven

Today is the day. Other projects need aging. No other anthology offers. No requests for Short Story Guy to make commencement speeches or sign other people’s books at Barnes & Noble. Theme! I think. Yes, theme. My submission needs a theme. One that matches the anthology.  I select it.

Nothing happens.

Day Thirty-Eight

The white screen mocks me. Where there should be a Continue reading “The Fall and Rise of Draft One”

An Open Letter: Hey, Cucumber Guy

Hey Cucumber Guy: An Open Letter

You, Cucumber Guy. Yes, you. The one in the restaurant kitchen adding the cucumbers to the salads. You did it again. You served me an otherwise well-crafted salad with cucumber slices like hockey pucks. What am I supposed to do with these? Weight down important papers? Make cucumber water? Treat my crow’s feet to some quick moisturizing therapy?

Cucumber Guy, I propose your delegating the fine slicing to us is no minor inconvenience. Consider the downstream effects Continue reading “An Open Letter: Hey, Cucumber Guy”

In Which I Buy a $35 Club Sandwich

No one sets out to buy a $35 club sandwich. You back into that kind of decision later and over time, after long miles journeyed, after tiny losses mounting on your stomach, after foolish choices and opportunities foregone, after hunger sets in and then settles in. The $35 club sandwich is a end-of-the-line choice, almost happenstance, but it happens, and when it happens, it happens all the way.

It was November 2007, and the journey was Venice. A dream city, the Floating City, Queen of the Adriatic. We left Florence on an afternoon train. For fun that morning we                         marched ancient streets and climbed Il Duomo’s 467 stairs–yes, for fun–which had us rushing to the station with train station snacks for lunch. In Italy, the presence of a service, in this case a snack car, never guarantees actual availability. Closed, reason unknown. A three-hour ride later Continue reading “In Which I Buy a $35 Club Sandwich”