across the tundra

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My story Tundra is now live at Blue Skirt Productions.

Here’s an excerpt.

——————

December 22, 1969.

Just turn around

was the scratched record endlessly repeating in my head.

This is stupid. I’m stupid.

I should just turn around.

But when I got to Dell Farms, and it was farther back than forward, my dogged, irrational Want kept me moving straight on, ahead.

***

The lukewarm water was taking way too long to heat up the thermometer. And then I noticed Dad’s cigarettes and lighter on the back of the toilet. So, I flicked his Bic and held the flame under the thermometer bulb, and with a quick, tiny POPit exploded, shattering glass and mercury everywhere. My heart beating furiously, I quickly unrolled sheets and sheets of toilet paper and sopped up (or at least contained) the glass and liquid metal, and flushed the whole thing down the toilet, praying it wouldn’t clog. It didn’t. And I found and opened a new thermometer and ran it under the now warmer water.

101º.

Perfect.

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dr. downey

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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.

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miserable holiday stories

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Yes, it’s that time of year to Give the Gift of Misery!  Sure, you’ve already got your copy of Miserable Holiday Stories.  Now’s your chance to ruin someone else’s festive season, with the gift that stops giving after about twelve-and-a-half minutes.

Here’s what Reviewers on Amazon are saying:

“These are some of the funniest holiday stories I have ever read.”

Miserable Holiday Stories is, at turns, funny (Gypsy, Bicycle Boys) and heartbreaking (Balance, The Smoking Lounge, etc) and always edgy and engrossing.”

“The K-Rope is a genre in and of itself.”

“‘The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again’ is worth the price of admission (not to mention “Gypsy,” which is worth at least $1.63).”

“My personal favs are Blue Christmas and the quirky and surprising Smoking Lounge.”

“Wonderful Voice, Bright and Entertaining”

“This #$@!# is funny!”

Click here to order on Amazon.

“mrs. harris” now up at new pop lit

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

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.

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k-rope now on wattpad!

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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

miserable holiday stories – more easter eggs

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Time for a Miserable Holiday Stories update!  Here are some random answers to questions that no one was really asking.

  • MHS is now up on Nook and Smashwords.
  • The Nook and Smashwords versions have different Easter egg stories than the one on Amazon.  (And Amazon’s had two so far.)  So, floating out there on the internet – I’m not saying “on the webs” –  doesn’t that sound awful? – there are four different Easter egg stories.
  • Honestly, they’re not even really all “stories”.  Well, a couple of them are pretty much stories.  But a couple of them are just extended bits.  All run a half-page or so.  So, quantity-wise they’re all pretty equal.  They’re all pretty equal quality-wise, too, actually.  So no harm, no foul.
  • All of the pieces are, at least, winter-themed, if not holiday-themed.  Because I know that’s really important.
  • The names of the pieces are:  “Too Much Snow”, “Norelco Electric Shaver”, “Santas on the Subway”, and “Blizzard”.
  • One of them is a particular favorite.  But they’re all pretty good, in my opinion.  I feel no shame in offering up any of them, and my goal was to make them all fairly equal in worth.

One question that some people have actually asked:

  • Yes, I did the cover myself.
  • The cover at the top, btw, was planned to be the cover for quite a long time, until about a day before we published – at which point it was pointed out that this would look way too small in the thumbnails that Amazon so often uses.  Hence, the current cover with the really big fonts.

Hmm.  What else?

  • Got some nice reviews on Amazon.  Hey!
  • (Feel free to add your own!)
  • The book remains vaguely readable, despite the fact that the holidays are over.  In other words, many of the stories will most likely still depress you, 24/7/365.  But having a pumpkin latte nearby may add to the overall misery quotient.)

Oh, and

 

miserable holiday stories – the easter egg story

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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.

miserable holiday stories

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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!

alex

the #$@!# bicycle boys save christmas, again!

My piece The #$@!# Bicycle Boys Save Christmas, Again! is up at Hobo Pancakes.  (It’s about halfway down the page, fyi.)  Here’s a little excerpt:

Santa Claus has been #$@!# kidnapped!” exclaimed the President of the United States.

“Christ!” said Flip.  “Again?  He was just kidnapped last year!”

“I’m afraid so,” said the President.  His image, replete with panic sweat, on the HD Etherlogic Hollerphone made the situation all the more urgent.

“The #$!@ FBI and military are baffled,” he continued.  “And frankly, time is running out!  This is a crisis only The #$@!# Bicycle Boys can handle!”

“Understood, sir,” I said.

“I’m forwarding all the information we’ve got, boys.  But it’s slim.”

“Not a problem, sir.”

“Thanks.  Gotta run!”

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