"Age can take many things from us, our muscle mass, our memory, our mobility. But age can also bring unlooked-for gifts, a new passion, new friends, new understanding. These gifts come to us in different ways, and often we must seek them out — or at least be open to them."
— from the Preface
I'm pleased to say that I have a piece in Why I Like This Story, edited by Jackson R. Bryer (Camden House, June 2019): a collection of essays by writers who were asked to describe why a favorite short story has moved them and influenced them. Those writing essays include Annie Proulx, Andrea Barrett, Ann Beattie, Alan Cheuse, Joyce Kornblatt, Clarence Major, Herbert Gold, William Gass, Mako Yoshikawa, and others. I chose Katherine Anne Porter's "The Jilting of Granny Weatherall," a story that knocked me out the first time I read it. I love Porter's clear-eyed, unflinching depiction of this indomitable woman as she confronts her life in the face of death. The story is a marvel of characterization, and in its own way comes as close as fiction can to capturing that ephemeral internal state we call consciousness.
A Place Called Chance, a novel. Set in the Chesapeake Bay and inspired by true events, this story details an environmental mystery story that becomes a murder mystery, a love story, and a fight for justice.
The King of Soul, a novel. In Richmond, Virginia, in the mid-1960s, a teenage boy joins a racially mixed rhythm-and-blues band. He comes of age playing James Brown tunes, and falling for one of the seductive dancers that sometimes accompanies the band. Falsely accused of a sex crime, he tries to clear his name, and to bridge the racial divide that runs deep in this southern city.
Sailing Through the Milky Way. Based on the better part of four years spent in the Caribbean, this nonfiction narrative describes what happens when a couple sells their home and takes to the sea. Chapters detail experiences in the cruising grounds of the Virgin Islands, the Leewards, and the Windwards, especially Grenada. As the preface asks, When an anxiety neurotic goes to sea, what could possibly go wrong?