Silent Retreats

silent_retreatsThis volume of eleven stories, which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, contains “Arcola Girls,” which first appeared in the New England Review, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and also won a National Endowment for the Arts grant. It contains the story “Geneseo” which formed the foundation for Philip’s first novel (unpublished). It contains “The Valence of Common Ions,” “Wilbur Gray Falls in Love with an Idea,” “Fiona’s Rooms,” and the title story, “Silent Retreats,” all of which contain characters who converge in Philip’s newest novel, Past Tense (still looking for a home). The Silent Retreats collection is dedicated to two of Philip’s mentors at St. Joseph’s College in Indiana.  I would wish for everyone, certainly all my friends, to have had men like this to show them the way.  I admit however I needed it more than most.

 

Scoring from Second: Writers on Baseball

scoring_secondsIn the 2004, I received the handoff of a project the great story writer and anthologist John McNally had begun. It was a book of essays by writers that centered on baseball. The idea of the book was not actually “sportswriting.” It was to collect a set of essays by writers that showed how baseball had played a part in their lives. For instance, it contained a wrenching essay by writer Pete Ives about going to Yankee Stadium with his young son, who had leukemia, on the invitation of the Make A Wish Foundation. There’s a prize-winning essay by Michael Steinberg remembering, in youth baseball, a virtual war he had with a coach that turned out to be formative, one of the most important things in his life.  There are essays in the book by Hal Crowther, Michael Chabon, William Least Heat-Moon, Cris Mazza, Jocelyn Bartkevicius, Andre Dubus, Michael Steinberg, Ron Carlson, Floyd Skloot, Leslie Epstein, Rick Bass, buncha others. My son, Dan, was an immeasurable help in finishing this project and someday will write his own book.  Many thanks to John McNally, the host of contributors — fine writers riffing on our favorite pasttime, and to Ladette Randolph.  The only picture in the book is a treasured one of my dad and me heading to old Busch Stadium (OLD Busch Stadium) in our church clothes so we could catch BP, 1963.

 

How Men Pray

how_men_prayThis, my first volume of poetry, published by the wondrous Anhinga Press, appeared in the winter of 2005. Two of the poems within, “The Worrier’s Guild” and “Flying,” have been read by Garrison Keillor on Writer’s Almanac. “The Worrier’s Guild,” as a result of the Keillor reading, was reprinted in the bird flu issue of the professional magazine of the Center for Disease Control, which would have made my father, a physician and surgeon, and my mother, a nurse among many other very good things, happy.  Traditionally, I go over to the beach on my birthday, one of the last days of summer, and it happened that Keillor read “Flying” on the radio that very day (he didn’t know it was my birthday, I’m sure).  Around 11 AM when Writer’s Almanac came on in New Smyrna, FL, I ran back to the car and down the road to the local Harley Davidson dealer.  No one was in there but a salesman from Chicago.  He got the radio going on the PA system in the big dealership, and “Flying” echoed through the whole empty place among the shiny motorcycles and afterwards we had a coffee toast, and I went back to the beach to read.  We should all have a book of our poems and be writing another one.  Why not?