Shrapnel: Short Stories…. Coming soon. An eclectic collection of short fiction selected by the author…

DSCN1954
This concept and the photo for the cover is my own and suits the thematic composition of the collection. The design, however, is tentative.

I have been working on this anthology over the past several months, revisiting all my short fiction, a huge body of work fifty years in the making… both published and unpublished work… selecting those stories that I consider to be my very best and combining them in some  kind of logical order… a difficult task, since this is an extremely eclectic collection of fiction.

Following months of work in compiling, editing, and formatting, the book, properly an anthology, is essentially complete and it has been put into the proper file configurations required to produce both print and e-book versions.  I will, hopefully, publish both versions simultaneously through Amazon in the very near future… perhaps sometime in early autumn… as my sainted grandmother might say, “…if the Good Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise….” which is a more colorful way of saying, “…barring any unforeseen impediments, difficulties, or calamitous events.”  We’ve seen a few of those in recent months, calamitous events.

The print version of book will be soft cover, 6″ x 9″ in size and approximately 170 pages in length.  Both print and Kindle versions include stories ranging in length from a very short 150-word experimental fragment in the style of magical realism… to an award-winning and more traditional short story of over 4,700 words.  Both published and unpublished work is included in the anthology, all newly edited, but representing my work from as early as 1973 through more recent times, the latest being a short story published in March of 2020.  The theme and the title of the book are derived from a poem I wrote a while back, and it is included in the front of the book as a kind of prologue:

Shrapnel: A modern American koan

Truth is never elusive.
It sits pretty on the table
like a hand grenade.
Pull the pin.

A good story does more than entertain.  It reaches out for the truth we need to hear… picks it up and pulls the pin.  Hopefully, one or several of the stories in my anthology will do just that for my readers, pull the pin on some truth we need to hear and consider.  Good fiction will rock your world.  Beyond mere entertainment, such is my intent.

It’s always been my belief that fiction is a more perfect way of telling the truth unimpeded by personal inhibitions and fear.  When the story is divorced from the reality of a personal connection on the part of an author, we can express those hidden things we never otherwise would even so much as whisper to ourselves in the dark night of our dreams.  If the writer dares and succeeds in the risk, the reader will be changed accordingly.  As Norman Mailer suggested, writing is the “spooky art” and I maintain that it can be entirely subversive when properly applied.  Even dangerous.

Once this preliminary project is completed and out there, I have about a dozen novels in various stages of preparedness for publication that could follow in its wake at the rate of about two or three per year.   More about that later.

Watch this space for further announcements as the publication date draws near.

__________________________________________________________________

 Creative Commons License “Shrapnel: Short Stories…. Coming soon. An eclectic collection of short fiction selected by the author.” by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Exception to the CC License as follows: The poem, Shrapnel: A modern American koan (© 2020 James Lloyd Davis) and the book cover rendered above and for the book, Shrapnel: Short Stories are covered by applicable US copyright law and may not be reproduced without permission by the author.

Peoples’ Daily Brief – Saturday Edition

We’re closed on Saturdays… one day a week.  We do it because we believe in a day of rest, not as a religious imperative, but as a simple human need.  We chose Saturday because we know everybody else usually chooses Sunday and we wanted to offer them a more in-depth analysis of the previous week, or editorial perspectives, on  their day of rest… a day when they have the time in which to read it.

On Saturday, however, we will give you something to consider, a link to an article or an op-ed that we read during the week and thought was important enough to pass on.

We chose this one today – On Juneteenth, Let’s Commit to Learning How to Abolish Oppressive Institutions/TRUTHOUT

2020_0619-george-floyd-1200x800

Hundreds of people pack into Columbus Circle to hear speeches against police violence while one of them holds a painted portrait of George Floyd in front of Trump International Hotel in New York City on June 14, 2020. IRA L. BLACK / CORBIS VIA GETTY IMAGES

____________________________________________________________________

 Creative Commons License Peoples’ Daily Brief by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Letter to Virginia – 8/31/2019

002

Dear Virginia,

Been a nostalgic week for some reason.  Who knows where these recollections come from, how they are triggered, but there it is… the Sixties.

Although I faked it whenever it suited my purpose, I never was a flower child… you know?  1968… I’d already been to Vietnam and back, tried acting like I’d never been there, since nobody really cared… just wanted to blend in and start all over from scratch.  Did I ever tell you what I wanted to do when I got back from the war?  Don’t laugh, but I was hot to be and really tried to become a photo-journalist… tried going back over there to Vietnam because life back home… life Stateside… was like a vacuum, a round hole and I was utterly square-shaped with very hard edges that simply seemed never to quite fit into place, though God knows I tried.

No… I guess I never told you about that, since I never had the chance.  I left Norfolk shortly after I heard you got married.  Nothing to keep me there, so I left.  Moved across the river to Newport News.  I know you knew I’d been back, but… who knows?

Me?  James the Recently Returned?  He wanted something exciting, something dangerous, something different in his life… but all he got was the sporting goods department at Sears & Roebuck and they fired him… long story.  Not worth telling.

I bought cameras, took pictures… got pretty good at it.  Sent letters to newspapers all over the country, told them I’d be willing to work for them as a photojournalist overseas… in Vietnam or Israel, wherever there was a war because… I don’t know… adrenaline?  Told them I’d work cheap, but nobody offered me a job and after Sears fired me, I pawned all my cameras and guns… and my television set, my stereo.  Took a four-month sabbatical and tried to write a novel.

When the money ran out, I got hungry… so I went to work for the shipyard.

Was living in a tenement then, three-story brick buildings… right across the street from the yard.  While I was living there, I went through about three lifetimes in a year… a crazy year… long story, but it was during one of those lifetimes that I tried becoming a flower child, hanging with a group of people who lived in my building, in a huge basement apartment where other people, kids mostly, down from Richmond and DC would party every weekend.  The group was led by a guy from California, a guy whose name I can’t remember… some rich guy who’d been to Vietnam and was knocking around the country with another guy… from Minnesota, I think.

They were trying to start an urban commune… called themselves “the Real People.”

Long story.  But I didn’t fit in there either.

Two years in Newport News… then Ohio and three or four more lifetimes in a couple of crazy years before I finally caught my breath… Readers Digest condensed versions of a life each… little novellas just waiting for an ending that never quite arrives.  Lifetimes that felt a little like Purgatory, or like waiting for a bus in a Greyhound station that never, ever comes.  Purgatory… Greyhound waiting rooms… they are interchangeable, I think.  You meet interesting people, but you’re forever in transit, like those little eddies of current in a river, that circle and circle and circle for hours before they ever slip back into the mainstream again and get on their way downriver.

Don’t know where you went after you and what’s-his-name got married.  I know you guys didn’t stay together.  I don’t know why.  God knows… he was a pretty good guy.  I knew him pretty well, but your life was a total mystery to me, a book I’ve always looked for, but could never find.

The Sixties.  I’d always imagined you’d get caught up in the whole flower-child thing… but in a good way.  Not the whole drugs and sex and the Green Tambourine thing, the me-me-me culture, but something like that quintessential catcher-in-the-rye rejection of self-aggrandizement, that higher place… a role you seemed born to assume and I know you were looking, always looking… so many did.  Somebody had to find it.  Not many would, but I always thought that if anyone could, you’d be the one.  I hope you did.

Best always… your old friend,

James

 

Creative Commons License Letters to Virginia by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Letter to Virginia – 8/17/2019

002

Dear Virginia,

Haven’t written in a while, but I thought about you today.
I’m reading again that novel we both read in high school, though I can’t remember whether I bought it first and you wanted it because I had it… or whether I saw you reading it and went out that weekend and bought it myself, so I could flash it at study hall and you’d notice… and we could talk about it together in a corner because… I looked for excuses back then, reasons for us to talk about things for which you had such a passionate interest… just for the pleasure of hearing the fire in your voice.
It was an old book then, old and somewhat obscure. I remember the jacket said it was a very big deal in Russia, in Europe… everywhere. Millions and millions and millions of copies sold.
The Gadfly… remember? A novel first published in the late 1890s by Ethel Voynich, not well known any more, but for some reason it experienced a brief resurgence in the early 1960s, so that anyone with half a brain for books… anyone with a capacity for intense intellectual notions had to read it… tried to read it, tried to understand why people said it was important, meaningful, even timely, though it wasn’t really timely… not yet, though it would be soon enough… in the latter years of that decade, in fact.
It was about revolution, a thing we did not yet ever think about, except for the thrill of the concepts surrounding rebellion… like the Victor Hugo book… the Paris Commune, the barricades, the red flags, the romance and the fire of a time we could only imagine… as it was historic, a prop, alien then, at least to us.
Eight years later, you must have felt it as I did, the possibility, the passion in the air, the word itself tossed around like so much excess… excess of guile… an excess of promise unfulfilled… revolution this and revolution that, until the word itself lost all meaning, ended up cynical and droll.
The revolution that was televised, commercialized, marketized, costumed and produced, packaged and seduced, but… before we knew it? They won. The revolution? Our revolution? It went right into reruns.
So… The Gadfly… I’m reading it now… again… because I need to remember what it was like to be hopeful and passionate… and I’ll admit it… I remember so little about it now, and I wonder if I ever really finished reading it. My head was already full of notions then. I’d read so much… more than I had the capacity to grasp, but tried anyway… Dostoevski, Tolstoi, Steinbeck, Hemingway, Voltaire, and I’d just started Don Quixote when I saw you carrying The Gadfly and knew I had to be reading it as well.
So there… I remember now… you had it first, didn’t you?
You had it, so I had to have it as well
God, but we were young.
Impressionable.
Naive.
We went off in totally different directions, didn’t we?
Really lost track.
I hope you’re well.
So damn many times over the past decades… years in which I’ve not seen or heard from you… or even known where you’ve gone, I think about you often, unable to imagine how life might have received you… rewarded you for the visions you had so long ago. I’ve wondered how you fared, if you were happy, if you found the things you wanted, the things you wished for…
Most of all, I miss the things we shared.
So maybe that’s why I’m reading that book again
And thinking about you.

Your old friend,
James the Least

Creative Commons License Letters to Virginia by James Lloyd Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.