In the 1950s, Jerry Vis had an uneventful, blue-collar, stickball-in-the-street childhood in Paterson, N.J. That is, until his father, who had been no more than a vaporous, bring-home-the-bacon presence, nearly killed himself with alcohol and suddenly got religion.
This humorous story is about all of the masks we wear to fit in with people whose masks look a little bit shinier than ours under the library lights at a PTA meeting in the affluent neighborhood of Encino, California. And it’s a story about how, deep down, we are all insecure middle-schoolers. This is a fictionalized version of true events.
ANDREA THORNTON BOLDEN
Recently in America, issues of race have dominated the news. This short, powerful essay is a reflection on all of the small adjustments and considerations Black people make to keep themselves alive — what author Andrea Thornton Bolden calls “correcting for whiteness.”
Virginia Evans wrote the first draft of her novel in 61 days. Seven days a week, she was at her desk with coffee by 5:00 am. She wrote 98,000 words while working three part-time jobs, with two children at home under age four. Then she defied the odds and managed to secure a literary agent. All of that turned out to be the easy part.
Adrian’s Affinity is a lush and lyrical story about a sensitive and intelligent boy with a special affinity — he can attract birds. It’s not a power, because he can’t control it. And it’s not an ability he wants, as it makes others — even his own mother — suspicious of him. Both a bittersweet coming-of-age tale and a haunting mystery, we’re reminded that we are all shaped by beautiful and mysterious forces as we struggle to fit in and understand ourselves. This story is dramatized.
This touching story brings us into the life of William, a young boy who must deal with some unexpected circumstances after WWII. After being evicted from their home, his family finds a new place to live in a resort community on Lake Michigan. There, William makes a special new friend and faces some dramatic events.
Marjorie signs up for a writing retreat and finds herself an outcast amidst a gaggle of young, eager authors. But one evening, over a few drinks with the group, she has an unexpected “fifteen minutes of fame” in the micro spotlight of the writing workshop. As she shares a secret talent with the group, she flashes back to an encounter she once had with Truman Capote.
As a young man, Roberto Loiederman read Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer,” and George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” which inspired a dream: to be broke in Paris one day. In his 70s, as a tourist in Paris, a sudden event gives him the chance to live out his youthful dream. Temporarily, anyway. This is a story about how we are all pretenders, to one degree or another.
Art and business collide in this tale of a hapless artist and a very shrewd, if not entirely scrupulous, marketing executive. A struggling creator of sculptures made from pieces he’s foraged from dumpsters, is just barely getting by when he receives a mind-boggling offer that he can neither believe nor refuse. Will he or won’t he accept it? Art “gets the business” in a story that begs the question: What makes a piece of art worth anything?
A writer of thrillers encounters a woman who claims to be the clever central character from his first novel. He plays along for a while, enjoying her witty company and the social boost she gives to his fading renown, but when she demands his involvement in a scheme to steal millions, he starts to wonder if she has, in fact, emerged from his fiction. As the situation becomes increasingly dire, he struggles to outwit her double-crossing skills.
When Kilauea Volcano erupts in May 2018, back-to-the-land farmers June and Lani must decide whether to stay and protect their Big Island homestead against everyday threats like feral pigs and potential looters, or evacuate and flee the dangers they cannot control. In the process, they learn where the fault lines are in their own relationship, and whether they can survive a disaster that may be immediate and cataclysmic.
After his father dies, Emlyn Cameron returns to his hometown in California, which is menaced by COVID-19 and massive wildfires, to unpack their relationship while sorting the contents of his father’s storage unit.
This is a beautifully written and touching essay about the life and death of the brilliant, kind, and infinitely creative Charles Cameron — a man we here at PenDust Radio knew and loved very much. We are honored to publish his son Emlyn’s eloquent words.