Lucy Langston’s marriage is failing when her husband Darrell is suddenly offered a new job as CFO for an American insurance firm in Bermuda. With their twelve-year-old son Peyton, they leave their affluent Connecticut life to start anew in a paradise of pink beaches and quaint British decorum.
All too soon, a darker reality emerges, and each of them becomes secretly entangled with Marcus Passjohn—a charismatic opposition leader known for his defense of the island’s underclass—and Marcus’s alienated son Zef, a budding anarchist.
Darrell slips into an intrigue to destroy Passjohn’s credibility.
Peyton, bullied at school, takes refuge in a frightening delinquency with Zef.
And Lucy, seeking to reclaim her son before it’s too late, enters a compelling alliance with Marcus Passjohn, one that quickly escalates into a powerfully transforming love affair.
A Christmas Tattoo
Mired to the hips in a too-soft couch, I shove the cell phone hard against my ear for closer contact with my daughter. J is sobbing, stranded by a blizzard at an airport a thousand miles away. Beside me--the side opposite the phone--my son slouches, a six-foot, skinny teenage mop-top. B's posture is defensive, his expression stricken. The couch, in textured velour, muted greens and gold, clashes with the view through the storefront window behind it: the buckling asphalt parking lot of a seedy Tampa strip mall and the words PIERCINGS TATTOOS, emblazoned on the glass in biker orange and gun barrel-gray. We're in line to get our Christmas present--a together-tattoo, a rite planned for weeks--with only two-thirds of our three-person family on hand.
The Loving Cup
She wanted me to have it. She expected me to win it.
At five years old I didn’t care about winning. Already I hated competing. But my mother needed me to get that cup. She told me it should be mine. I’d never heard of this prize until she brought it up, but the moment she did, I wanted it bad. I needed desperately—it was a matter of life and death in those days and for a long time thereafter—to please her.
Fiction Technique in Creative Nonfiction
The usual reason given in workshop and conference for introducing fiction technique, typically thought of as scene & dialogue, into creative nonfiction is to “enliven it.” We may also speak of the capacity of scene and dialogue to engage the reader, allowing her “to participate” in the story by becoming a fly on the wall. A common response of new writers told to introduce fiction technique into their creative nonfiction is resistance to doing so, out of fear of thereby not telling the truth, or out of distaste for “making things up.” I don’t want to resurrect the tired debate over truth versus lies in memoir—I support integrity over deception, period, and in my opinion it’s not that difficult to know when you’re deliberately misleading readers. But for purposes of today’s talk I do assert that all personal narrative—whether it’s memoir, personal essay, travel writing, or literary journalism—is to some degree subjective, by definition, because it is a product of an individual consciousness, and what we perceive with our senses, what we value, and what we have to say about those things depends on who we are and where we stand in time, space, class, and culture.
Selected Fiction and Creative Nonfiction