from "The Gambling Cruise,"
a short story in Harvard Review
Nicu opens the service door and braces himself against its jamb, just meters above a choppy sea. Despite his fear of water, this is the only place belowdecks with reception. Even so, he can barely make out his mother's voice over the waves slapping the hull. Are you alright, she asks, are they feeding you? I'm fine, he tells her, though there's much to complain about....
a short story
Who would dare smuggle an animal past presidential security? So brazen was the act, it could hardly fail to impress him. Only after the danger had passed did his pulse begin to race, and he smiled at the response she’d provoked in him, she with her little dog. Wasn’t there a Chekhov story about a lady with a lapdog at a seaside resort, where she awakens the heart of a distinguished older man? He should probably read it again....
reprinted in The Barcelona Review (spring 2016).
Museum of Trouble
"Visualize seduction. And self-confidence. Gravitas, too, but especially seduction. So many people in Los Angeles seem to get what they want. Is this how they start? By assuming it's already theirs...?
Picture your own allure and drive toward it. Hey, that's not bad: toward the idea of your own irresistible allure you're now driving, albeit around and around the same block. Don't be scared. What's the worst that can happen? Claudia says no—again. But this time you're bringing something special to the table. Something guaranteed to set you apart.
There's a parking spot next to that bright red Ferrari. He's a little over the line, so you have to squeeze in slowly. Slowly. Ferraris back in Minnesota, should they even exist, don't park in front of strip-malls. You ogle the muscular car, empty and topless, keys dangling from its ignition. Who forgets their keys in a quarter-million dollar car? How loaded must someone be to afford such carelessness? ...
—from the first pages
"At the center of this hilarious, dazzling tale is Adriane Gelki, hapless employee of the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Enhancement, who wants desperately to cultivate a life of abandon—the kind personified by her hero, Thelonious Monk. Devil may care, transcendent abandon. Who says a black jazz legend from the 1950s can't be a role model for a 28 year old white girl?
"So far, however, Adriane has yet to manage it—to be completely abandoned. Except, of course, by other people. Like her father, who killed himself when she was fourteen, and her mother, who followed suit ten years later. And then there was her married boss Garrett Hughes—the one-time object of her fumbling attempts at seduction—who broke her heart.
"But now that Adriane's staring down thirty, she's about to embark on a series of misadventures destined to change her life. In very short order, she manages to: get herself busted for flashing an undercover cop, break her court-appointed therapist's ribs, and ruin a perfectly pleasant orgy. For Adriane Gelki, things are finally starting to look up...
"An uproarious look at the insanities of living on the edge, this charming and incisive novel revels in the tragicomic journey of life—wherever it may lead."
—from the jacket copy
The Adriane Manhattan
2 parts Kentucky Bourbon
1 part Sweet Vermouth
Extra dash of bitters
Keep ready in freezer.
Garnish with Maraschino cherry.
Drink liberally in good times and bad.
Let Joan or Shelley drive, preferably Joan.
Adriane's Man Monk
Lately she’d been listening to a lot of Thelonious Monk. He’d made beautiful music by deliberately hitting the wrong notes. Adriane was convinced there had to be some kind of life-lesson in that.
Adriane's Dog-Care Guide
At the vet's they showed her how to clip Barry's toenails and douche his ears with a diluted vinegar solution and how to cut out matted fur. When they got home, she tried a test run of all of these things. She set him in the bathtub and clipped and squirted. He put up with everything, and seemed generally to enjoy her ministrations. When she was done, she rewarded him with a smoked pig's ear.
She bolted upright and looked past him. “I had that dream.”
"Which dream?” he asked, taking her face in his hands. “The one where you’re auditioning for the Baltimore Ballet and your slippers catch fire?”
“No, the bicycle dream."
“The one where your brakes fail or the one where your naked rump is sticking up in the air?”
Shaking her head, she shut her eyes. “The rump one.”
“And your first husband is running beside you, holding the handlebars?”
She nodded vigorously against his palms.
“And your second husband is hanging on to the book rack?”
“Yes, yes, yes.” She stared feverishly now at Garrett and demanded, “What does it mean? Do you think it’s some omen, about today?”
"When Garrett marries May-Annlouise, he doesn't just get May- Annlouise. He also gets her two children, Lynn and Turpin. That's not so unusual nowadays. But Garrett didn't expect to get her ex-husband Tor as well. Back from his globetrotting adventures, Tor has arrived on their doorstep in Baltimore to announce he's dying of a form of mad cow disease. May-Annlouise feels she has no choice but to let him move in and see him through. After all, he is Turpin's father...
"Then Lynn decides to seek out her own father, who happens to live in India. When May-Annlouise refuses to take her, Garrett steps up, and once again, gets more than he bargained for. Lynn adopts her father's religion and asks for an arranged marriage—only to have Turpin, now a troubled teen, flamboyantly thwart her plans.
"Over the course of a decade, Garrett and May-Annlouise encounter a host of striking characters—a seductive coworker, a mysterious fertility doctor—who amply demonstrate, in ways both profound and absurd, that no marriage is an island. As full of surprises as the institution it celebrates, Garrett in Wedlock is a distinctive literary debut, and a powerful rendering of a union that has truly tested the vow 'for better or worse.' "