Dear Reader and/or Web Surfer,
It is April 20th, 2014. In hippie parlance: 4/20. A moment ago, I heard rain falling on the steel roof of our house. Now: nothing. This might indicate snow. My wife and children are asleep, Wisconsin Public Radio is churning out classical music, and on a separate Word document, I seem to be working on some sort of highly uncommercial essay regarding cell-phone culture and bar-trivia.
It’s been more than a year since this website went LIVE, and in that time, this front page hasn’t changed one iota. I've been focused on "Shotgun Lovesongs", I suppose. But soon, I’ll have another book out there in the world, and I thought I’d write this letter in the hopes of perhaps encouraging you to buy a copy.
“Beneath the Bonfire” is a collection of ten short stories. Some of these stories were written as far back as 2009, when I was a student in Dean Bakopoulos*’ workshop (which met at the downtown Madison Public Library). Some of the stories were written as late as 2012. Four of the stories were published in elite literary journals. I am deeply proud of them all.
I am very blessed these days to spend a good deal of my time traveling around the country – indeed, the world, promoting my books, sharing my life-story, and meeting with readers, booksellers, and librarians. In recent months, I have begun reading stories from “Beneath the Bonfire” at events, and the response has been fantastically positive. These are stories set in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Stories that are concerned with our fragile, damaged, and yet still beautiful natural environment. Stories concerned with friendship, love, jealousy, loss, divorce, and happiness. Some of these stories are darker than anything a reader might have encountered in “Shotgun Lovesongs”. And yet, the book is punctuated by a story entitled “Apples” (originally published in the journal “Ploughshares”). “Apples” is quiet, meditative, kind, and compassionate. I honestly believe that this is a book for any reader.
I am reminded of the movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. If you’ll recall, towards the end of “Shawshank” Red finds a hidden tin near a tree and under a volcanic rock that had no business in a field fence of meadow-stones. Inside the tin is a note from Red’s friend, Andy Dufresne. The note urges Red that if he’s come this far, perhaps he’ll come a little further… The movie ends with a majestic parting shot of a Pacific beach near the Mexican city of Zihuatenejo…
Well, if you’ve read “Shotgun Lovesongs”, and you’ve now read the entirety of this note, perhaps you’re willing to follow me a little further….
Please, visit your local bookstore, or your preferred web-retailer, and order “Beneath the Bonfire”. You'll have my sincere thanks.
10:13 pm, April 20th, 2015
*Incidentally, Dean’s new book, “Summerlong”, is fantastic, and will be available this summer.