I like the idea of the literary arts as a part of our nation's ongoing conversation about who we are and the way we should be. I appreciate the NEA's support for the individual voices that make up that conversation, and I'm pleased to be one of the voices encouraged with a fellowship.
From the short story "Among the Tootalonians"
Val's marriage was dead, his career was stalled, and his hair looked like shit. As if that weren't enough, the outer world, the other world, the world of cities beyond the city where he lived, of children who were still children, unlike his own who had grown and left him years ago, that other surrounding world that came to him daily through television and computer images, in newsprint and slick magazine type and broadcast voices, that other world was descending once again into chaos and madness, the same chaos and madness unchanged it seemed since the beginning of time, only now the buildings that were falling were bigger, as were the numbers of people easily accessible for slaughter. Thus no one had time to worry about Val. No one called, although he was living entirely alone for the first time in his life, in the West, which was as foreign to him as the plains of Mars, in Boise, Idaho, for God's sake. No one had time to call. Not his two sons from his first marriage, Jonathan and Mark, both of whom still lived in the beleaguered East, in the target city of New York, New York. Not the daughter from his second marriage, Alison, who had her own drug disaster going that superseded even the current world disaster. And certainly not his third and most recent ex, who had dragged him to Boise in the first place and then left him, but not for a younger man, which would have made too much sense given that Val was twenty-six years older than her, but for an even older man, a man of seventy plus years, a man some dozen years older than Val and not even as well-off, an artist of some kind, a sculptor who taught at the local university, a wizened, rickety creature who hung out at a local coffee shop where he was held in some kind of western art reverence by the Idaho intelligentsia.
Val was not in a good place.