None of the Above (Unsolicited Press, 2019) is a novel spanning twenty seven years (1980-2007) of the life of Increase Alt, a fearful, introverted sort who does a poor job of paying attention to things that don’t directly affect his life. Throughout grade school, high school, and college, his energies become more and more directed toward his own pursuits—the study of literature, the attempt to secure a girlfriend, the forging and maintaining of relationships with his male peers. Events happening in the world, in the country, and in his hometown of Cleveland—a Reagan-Carter presidential debate, the Iran Contra scandal, the AIDS epidemic, the first Gulf War—become important only when they threaten to pull him out of his comfort zone. As a highly educated adult, he discovers he still has much to learn, with both personal trials and traumas in the country (and world) putting his maturity to the test.
Here Is Ware: Stories (Fomite Press, 2018) is a collection of fiction about people and places. Set in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York—and in places between and beyond—these stories feature characters baffled by where they are in their lives. Several focus on returns—the emotions that roil, the dark secrets that press against the heart. A son attempts to endure a short visit to his parents, anxious about the effect such a tension-filled trip might have on his usually sunny wife. Home for the holidays, a thirty-something father tries to understand his life through the lens of sports. An abuse-haunted man, back in town for the funeral of a brother, encounters a former high school classmate who gives him a tour of her shrine to a famous rock-n-roller. A divorced mother, responding to a shocking family tragedy, sets out with her young daughter for the home she wishes she could forget. In the title piece, a novella-in-flash, a young woman escapes serious family dysfunction by moving away to college; however, she learns her hometown is a place she cannot so easily leave behind. In these and other stories, characters are coming and going, inevitably shaped by where they are.
Still Time (Fomite Press, 2012) is a collection of twenty-five short and shorter stories exploring tensions that arise in a variety of contemporary relationships: a young boy must deal with the wrath of his out-of-work father; a woman runs into a man twenty years after an awkward sexual encounter; a wife, unable to conceive, imagines her own murder, as well as the reaction of her emotionally distant husband; a soon-to-be tenured English professor tries to come to terms with her husband’s shocking return to the religion of his youth; an assembly line worker, married for thirty years, discovers the surprising secret life of his recently hospitalized wife. Whether a few hundred or a few thousand words, these and other stories in the collection depict characters at moments of deep crisis. Some feel powerless, overwhelmed—unable to do much to change the course of their lives. Others rise to the occasion and, for better or for worse, say or do the thing that might transform them for good. Even in stories with the most troubling of endings, there remains the possibility of redemption. For each of the characters, there is still time.
Critical Insights: Flash Fiction (Grey House, 2017) is a collection of scholarly essays about flash fiction writers past and present. Chapters on Kate Chopin, Franz Kafka, Julio Cortazar, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, among others.
Critical Insights: American Sports Fiction (Grey House, 2013) is a collection of scholarly essays about American novelists and short story writers who use sports to explore themes of gender, race, class, and more. Writers covered include Don DeLillo, Toni Cade Bambara, Jack London, and David Foster Wallace.