We're All Damaged

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Free Fiction. And It’s Free.

I was fortunate this month to have my short story Miss November included in a very cool, totally free digital anthology from my friends at Harper Perennial called Forty Stories. 

I wrote Miss November during a break from my novel Domestic Violets, which was published last August.  Seeing both of them now in retrospect, the similarities are pretty vivid.  Both are very domestic stories set squarely in the middle of marriages in transition, both include couples hell bent on not talking about what they really should be talking about, and both use humor as a device to mask their author’s long list of personal insecurities.   

The narrators, though, at least in my opinion, are two very different guys. While Tom from Domestic Violets infuriates everyone around him and sprints headlong toward trouble, Mitchell from Miss November is much quieter in his shortcomings, which somehow results in a more ominous conclusion. 

I wish I could tell you that Miss November was easy to write—that I hammered out those thirteen or so double-spaced pages over the course of a few hours while watching old Daily Show reruns.  But, in truth, it was a total pain in the ass. 

A writer friend of mine named Ryan Effgen told me once that a novel is like the Grand Canyon while a short story is like a diamond.  I can’t remember if he made that up or if he was quoting someone, but, either way, he was right.  Domestic Violets is a big, messy hole in the ground with jagged edges and streams that seem to go nowhere.  And Miss November is…well, at least my attempt at…something very small and really shiny.

You can download the entire Forty Stories anthology here to your computer, or here from Amazon.com to your space-age e-reading robot device. In either case, Miss November appears on page 298.  And did I mention it’s free?



  1. Thanks for the tip. I enjoyed reading your story. Your wry style is perfect for this family drama. It's true novels for me are like movies and more, creating a whole believable world whereas short stories are like poems capturing a moment. I like the time elapsed in this story, the characters, and the details. I'm with the cat behind the dryer until this blows over. How do you explain to women that yes, we look at Playboy but we're not like James? Well we have a better sense of propriety at least, even if we understand him more than we admit.

    And the book is wonderful I downloaded it and I'm three stories into it.

    Thanks again,
    Jack Duggan
    El Cerrito, CA

    1 cat, 1 sullen 17 year old boy, a 3 year old girl and a pretty wife

  2. Hey, Jack. Thanks for the note. I'm glad you liked the story. And I agree...I'm a lot like the cat, too. Hiding behind the dryer has been my problem-solving technique of choice for most of my adult life. Metaphorically speaking, of course.


  3. What a great way to start the new year. Domestic Violets is hilarious. I'll be trolling soon for more...