My piece – All the Comforts – about a cranky Earth human taking a tour on an intergalactic space-bus – is up at The Zodiac Review.
Here’s an excerpt.
“Oooooh!” “Ahhh!” “Glaav!”
Murmurs of awe erupted from 96 passengers, encompassing eight different planetary species, and 18 languages, as yet another “Moment of Wonder” appeared outside the southern window of Gerrison’s Interstellar Adventure Macrobuus. This time, it was tiny pin-pop flashes of phosphate crackling in the early morning light against the dark red background of Mt. Dosav’a on the lushly popular planet Jove8.
Of the 96 passengers, only three did not Oooooh, Ahhh, or Glaav. They were: Colcalm, the bus-driver, who’s sacred trust was to simply keep his eyes on the road; Merrieux, the young, golden, half-Jovian/half-French tour guide who, while still taken by the light show, remained a consummate professional; and Dick Magrish, 82-year-old human from Budweiser, Michigan, NAmerica, Sol3 (Earth), who continuously wore a sleep mask and earplugs during every highlight of the tour.
As mentioned yesterday, my piece “Dick and Liza” – about a secret tryst between Richard Nixon and Liza Minelli circa 1972 – appears in the first print edition of New Pop Lit. (And editor Karl Wenclas and the good folks at NPL nominated it for a Pushcart Prize!)
Hard copies of New Pop Lit are now officially on sale. It features other Pushcart nominated writers, and an extremely cool cover by Alyssa Klash.
You can order your copy here.
My new piece, Dr. Downey, is up at Saturday Night Reader.
Here’s an excerpt.
“I don’t like Dr. Russell,” said Mrs. Epstein. “There’s something off about him!”
Dr. Paula Downey, 63, the Co-Head of the Physical Therapy Unit at Hillside Medical smiled, nodded, and continued gently manipulating Candy Epstein’s tender, arthritic right leg. Candace, a sweet, nosy octogenarian, had had a relatively mild dust-up with three other cars on the parkway six months ago. After her initial recovery period, she had come to Dr. Downey for weekly therapy sessions. Except for the brittleness of age, her injury was relatively mild – but her weekly therapy sessions – which included stretching, pulling, complaining about pains, getting weekly meds and generally dishing the dirt – had become the highlight of her week.
My piece “Mrs. Harris” is now up at New Pop Lit – and the image they used is really cool! Check it out.
Here’s the opening –
Mrs. Harris? It’s Albert Levy again. Are you there? Okay. Okay. I’m trying to be polite and civil and responsible, here, but I’ve sort-of had it with this. As you know – and as I’ve mentioned several times – we appear to have very similar phone numbers; like just a digit off or something. And you’ve given out my phone number instead of yours to all of your clients or case files or whatever you call them.
Famed inventor Harvard Kleinman came out of retirement Sunday to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his illustrious K-Rope. At a special ceremony held at Newark Penn Station, Mayor Booker praised the apparatus, citing its historical impact on transportation in Newark, the United States, and across the globe.
Click to read more
About the Easter Egg story.
So, it occurred to me when I was assembling Miserable Holiday Stories as an ebook that it might be fun to include an extra story in there, like a hidden extra track on an album. So, if you were one of the people that downloaded the book in the first 24 hours, the Easter Egg story was called “Too Much Snow.” (It was only a page long.) But within that first 24 hours, I was feeling uncomfortable about some of the language in that story and I decided to swap it out for a different story, which is what I did. Since the new piece was also only one page, I simply swapped it out and it didn’t change the formatting of the book or the table of contents or anything, really.
And then it occurred to me that – since this is currently an ebook-only format – I can do this as often as I want. So, no matter when you download the book, you’ll always get the 10 listed stories. But say, over the course of a year, 10 people could have 10 slightly different versions with 10 different Easter Egg stories, making each periodic “run” of the book a kind of limited collector’s edition!
I have no idea if this is actually innovative or not. But I don’t know that I’ve heard of anybody else doing it…
Since there’s currently no print version, I have no idea how this impacts the idea of a “first edition” or not. It’s all just virtual editions. At the moment, I’ve only swapped out the story once. But I like the idea in theory, and could imagine doing it again soon, depending on how people respond. And then maybe in ten years, if this thing goes anywhere, I can publish a book that’s just all the Easter Eggs.
And then maybe that book would have one Easter Egg story.
I’m extremely proud to announce that my first-ever short story collection – Miserable Holiday Stories – is now available as a Kindle ebook. The collection features 10 mostly holiday-themed pieces (actually 11; there’s an Easter egg buried in there), eight of which have appeared here and in various lit journals over the last few years. And the whole thing is an e-steal at a $1.99!
Here’s the blurb copy from Amazon:
Throw another yule log on the fire and twist that final menorah lightbulb! Author and humorist Alex Bernstein presents a collection of quirky, bittersweet tales calculated to ruin even the most blessed festivities. No matter which holidays you celebrate, these 10 stories will have you yearning for mid-January. Featuring the recent Glimmer Train finalist (but not winner) “Brownie Mix”, the infamous chapter-book parody “The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again!”, the never-before-printed “Blue Christmas”, and stories previously appearing in such eclectic journals as The Big Jewel, Litro, Corvus, eFiction, Dysfunctional Family Story, The Legendary, Blue Print Review, and Hobo Pancakes, Miserable Holiday Stories is the perfect gift for that special someone you’d rather not ever hear from again. And cheaper than wool socks, to boot!
Click here to order on Amazon.
And a big thanks – and Happy Holidays – to all of you who have supported Prom and these momentary distractions over the last few years!
My new piece Her Day Off is up at Litro.uk.
She sat and sat. And then that was about enough. She let her book fall onto the table, stood, stretched, left the room, left the house. And the world outside was tremendous.
The warmth. The smell of the dogwoods, of fertilizer, of Spring itself, overwhelmed her. A perfect day to shake out the cobwebs, she thought; to realign herself; to walk into town. Certainly much too perfect to be cooped-up indoors.
So many choices. She’d seen a delicate ruby brooch at the Jumble Store that had really caught her eye. And she considered spoiling herself and getting ice cream. But instead, she settled for a simple picnic in the park. She stopped at the Butchers, picked up a liter of iced tea, an oversized bag of popcorn, and – as a special treat – a quarter pound of chipped ham which she would eat with her fingers, girlishly and uncivilised, straight out of the wrapper.
The park was bliss. She picked a bench, clean and warm. And with the exception of a few dog-walkers, she had the place to herself. Today, she would let go of time and burdens and live in the moment, enjoying simple listless currents. Today, the absence of time was her friend.