“Greyhound”

Many thanks to C.S. Malerich, for sharing her thoughts on “Greyhound.” Malerich is one of the contributors in AMONG ANIMALS, a collection of short stories just published by Ashland Creek Press. You will not want to miss her powerful story, “Meat.”

C. S. Malerich

“Greyhound,” by Jean Ryan, the second story in Among Animals, is a little cipher of a tale, about the ways we never really know anyone, yet still somehow connect.  The narrator of “Greyhound” adopts a former racing greyhound with the hope that the dog can help bring her partner Holly out of…something.  Holly swears she has no inner demons to exorcise, but her psychosymatic symptoms say otherwise.  The dog they end up with, formerly called Clara’s Gift and now called Fawn, is an apparently troubled soul — eerily meek and obedient.  Holly lists the ways that greyhounds have been bred and shaped for the track, until it seems (in Fawn’s case at least) they no longer know how to be dogs.  Fawn has none of the behaviors we would recognize as “dog”: she doesn’t bark, beg for food, play with other dogs, or jump for human affection.  She was…

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Review: Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction

Book Chatter

Among Animals
Among Animals – The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction
By John Yunker (Editor)
(Ashland Creek Press, Paperback, 9781618220257, 232pp.)

The Short of It:

A deeply introspective look at the role of animals in society.

The Rest of It:

This is a powerful, and I’ll admit, at times, unsettling collection of short stories that center around animals and their place in society. I expected most of the stories to center around “man’s best friend” but the collection goes much deeper than that.

These stories include a man’s infatuation with a bird, a story told from a stray dog’s point of view, a woman impregnated (magically speaking) by a dolphin, a pregnant woman slowly becoming goat-like, and probably what was the most powerful story for me, one about an animal taken in as “meat” that suddenly becomes quite a bit more than that.

What I briefly mentioned above…

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The Spiritually Challenged Writer

 

imagesLike many others, I admire the wisdom of our spiritual leaders: the Dalai Lama, Pema Chodron, Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Sharon Salzberg. Each of these luminaries stress the importance of living in the now. When we mull over the past or envisage the future, we rob ourselves of the present moment. Another key teaching is the relinquishment of ego. Clinging to our opinions and desires creates suffering, and we will lead happier lives if we can manage to stop personalizing our existence. Judging and labeling are also serious afflictions, which must be avoided if we are to find peace.

Much as I agree with these teachings, as a writer I find them difficult, if not impossible, to implement. At the computer, living inside my stories, I am light years away from the present moment. And then there is all that time I spend mulling over scenes and characters while taking a shower, folding laundry, doing dishes or simply staring out a window.

A critical faculty is essential to writing. The author starts with a blank page and begins the harrowing process of elimination, discarding one option after another in an effort to pin down the right voice, the right setting, the right time, the right subject, all of which are entirely subjective. If we are to get anything done at all, we must rely on our judgments, ruling this better than that, and ruthlessly proceed.

Labels are words, the tools of our trade. We use them to identify thoughts, to assign meaning, to make sense of the world. We will spend hour after hour chasing down the words that best convey our ideas, and then we will endlessly arrange these words into sentences that are pleasing and precise. Words are prey. We must master them.

And how do we abandon our egos? Of all the art forms, writing is the most revealing, the most personal. We want to connect with others, and to that end we let the world in on our secrets and anxiously wait for a reaction. Maybe there are writers out there who don’t care about feedback, who are happy just to please themselves, but I haven’t met any.

And how do we take the ego out of marketing? How do we promote our work without promoting ourselves?  Facebook, Twitter, blogs—social media is how we distinguish ourselves, how we  gain attention. How we sell books, or hope to.

Funny thing is, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer are both prolific authors. Presumably they have found a way to reconcile their literary calling with their spiritual growth. I wonder how they do that.

Q&A with Jennifer Hartsock

I am grateful to Jennifer Hartsock for posting this interview on the Ashland Creek Press blog. Please visit the ACP website to learn more about this extraordinary publisher.

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Ashland Creek Press is a small, independent publisher of books with a world view. Our mission is to publish a range of books that foster an appreciation for worlds outside our own, for nature and the animal kingdom, and for the ways in which we all connect.

Many Thanks to bioStories

My deep gratitude to Mark Leichliter of bioStories for publishing my personal essay, “Starting Out.”

bioStories is conceived in the belief that every life can prove instructive, inspiring, or compelling, that every life holds moments of grace. We believe stories harbor the essential architecture of biography and that slices of a life properly conveyed can help strangers peer briefly within its whole, hold that life momentarily in their eye, and quite possibly see the world anew through that lens.”

bioStories publishes a new feature essay every week.