Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Hey, Mr. Postman….

I love to get mail. Well, not direct mail solicitations, but queries from people who’ve read what I’ve written. Some reflections on what it means for a writer to hear back from readers has been posted at Flash Fiction Chronicles (

My quote from Catcher in the Rye—Holden Caulfield on wishing he could simply call up writers he admired and have a chat—was entirely coincidental with J.D. Salinger’s death. My article was written two weeks ago. But I wish I could call him up and tell him what his writing meant to me when I was a confused teenager.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J.D. Salinger R.I.P.

Yesterday was not a perfect day for bananafish. Jerome David Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye and other books, died, on Wednesday at age 91, of natural causes at his home in New Hampshire, according to a family statement provided today. His first story, "A Perfect Day for Bananafish," was published by The New Yorker in 1948. His last was published 16 years later after he retired to reclusiveness in New Hampshire. His output was small for a writer given so much acclaim: Nine Stories (1953), a collection of a novella and a short story, Franny and Zooey (1961), and a collection of two novellas, Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction (1963). His last published work, a novella entitled Hapworth 16, 1924, appeared in The New Yorker on June 19, 1965.

Salinger was an evergreen writer whose books are still assigned to high schools. One 16-year-old recently told me she hated Catcher and thought Holden Caulfield a wuss. I said, well, he defined my life as a 17-year-old kid. He also defined a certain writing style for me, as well as the purpose of writing when he had Caulfield say, “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it.”

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The New, NEW New York Times?

The front page of Sunday's Times made me choke on my bacon and eggs. There, under the head "Foot on Bomb, Marine Defies a Taliban Trap," I read the quote, 'Goddamn, Matty, Man,' said Cpl. Joshua Villegas, allowing his eyes to roam over the intact Marine after the patrol backed away away from the dud. 'Lucky son of a bitch.'"

Is this the first time the good gray Times wrote "goddamn" and "son of a bitch"? On page one, column 7? I'm used to the New Yorker sprinkling its copy with "fucks," but the national paper of record--a family paper--is getting it on! Going with the times, so to speak. I expect tomorrow's paper will have Pres. Obama stating, "Screw the banks, I'm really pissed off now!" And Speaker Nancy Pelosi fuming, "Those shits are wrecking my legacy."

Ah, well, if little kids now use good Anglo-Saxon epithets, can the rest of journalism be far behind in trying to sell papers to the illiterates?

Now in a New Anthology of Short Stories

Ever watch your future melting away, moments before the reprieve comes? That may not be the end though.

“Death in the Afternoon” has been selected for inclusion in Every Day Fiction’s new anthology. So nice, too, when readers say things like, "Good story, nice twist, great images." When readers are happy, I'm happy. There's more information at Then curl up and enjoy some of today's top flash fiction writers.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Keep Your Philtrum Dry

I’m often inclined to pitch a story as seen through the eyes of children, schizos and other-worldly personalities. It allows me to describe impressions of these innocents, while you, dear reader, know the truth. (Don’t you?)

I got a question from my 3-year-old grandson today asking what the indentation below the nose and over the lip was called. A quick Google check revealed it’s a philtrum. Who knew? I wrote back to his Mom to tell him tonight, “Your philtrum should look like your Mom's or Dad's because the shape is inherited.

“I like to watch and see if people's earlobes—the dingle dangle—is separated or is tucked up next to their jaw. This is also inherited, so if you marry a woman whose ears don't dangle then your baby boy or girl might not have a dangle ear and you can't sing ‘Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro, can you tie them in a knot, can you tie them in a bow...?’

“Also, if you put your finger at the end of your nose, you'll find a little separation under the skin. Go on, wiggle it. I don't know what this is called, but I think everyone has one. If you don't, then maybe you're an alien from Mars!! Write and let me know!”

Now, all I have to do is put together a thousand words about a boy with no philtrum, no dangling earlobes and no thingy under the tip of his nose.

Friday, January 8, 2010

On a Roll Again

My New England genes told me I’d be despondent after overindulging in wine, pâté, cookies, more wine, eggnog. January is an anticlimactic come-down. I need Viagra for the soul.

But relief came with publication this week of “Gothic Revival,” vindication for my falling asleep during American Lit 101. I did my homework for this! The story began as a half-hour exercise in “Two weeks as a redneck librarian” and continued into seeing beauty in the grotesque and the grotesque in beauty. Read it in Bewildering Stories, at

Also this week, Every Day Fiction had a press party blowout in Vancouver for its anthology containing “Death in the Afternoon,” a flash fiction piece published there on Oct. 18. (Tag: Ever watch your future melting away, moments before the reprieve comes? That may not be the end.) You can buy a copy—please do—shortly

Big Pulp e-mailed me just before the holidays that they’re buying “Epitaph with Flowers,” a murder/love story that Mouth Full of Bullets accepted just before closing down. That’s good to look forward to.

And finally, Flash Fiction Chronicles posted my commentary on “Tackling the Trash,” a question of what to do with the stories that once written become orphaned, stillborn, rejected or subjected to euthanasia. (See

Eensy little wins also included our Ocean County Library branch asking if our writing group would judge a kids’ writing contest, I opted into doing our church newsletter, and Judy’s cookbook was brought up to date. I think it’s going to be a good year.