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My Story

Life — a road of twists and turns, only a small percentage of which would reasonably be foreseen.

One example. My father was a car mechanic who ran his own one-man shop. I studiously avoided learning about anything to do with a wrench, and he was profoundly uninterested in wasting time by showing me or my brother how to turn a bolt. I inherited his pile of tools and now — thanks YouTube tutorials! — routinely spend time crawling around under our automobiles. You wouldn’t want to hire me, but often enough I get the car running again.

Mostly, however, I’ve made a living with a keyboard. Over the years I’ve written a pair of traditionally published novels, Darkest Desire (Ecco Press) and Lost Souls (Available Press/Random House). Darkest Desire was also published in Germany and Japan, sold to an Italian publisher, and optioned by a US film production company. Editors and critics couldn’t quite decide whether Darkest Desire was brilliant or the product of a diseased mind. Further evidence, in case you needed it, that there is no accounting for taste.

I’ve also worked for a variety of publications, ranging from the rabidly hippie to the hugely corporate. I started out in a Denver-based, collectively-run news service for alternative papers, back when that was a thing. The Cuban embassy was among our customers. Inevitably our office was rifled by adherents of the ultra right US Labor Party (“You labor, they party!”) . Decades later I owned and operated newspapers in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul. It was, back then, the type of place where if you called the cops to complain about the multitudinous drug dealers, they’d inquire, “Why do you live here?” Which explains in a nutshell why it was a wonderful place to operate a tabloid. I also paid some bills by writing for papers such as the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Outside, the New York Times Book Review and a host of others. I tossed around a lot of words over the decades.

Writers used to believe they had to establish their bona fides by listing some of their screwball occupations. So be it. Silo builder, cucumber rancher, chicken plucker, gas pump jockey, printer, shade tree mechanic, boat builder, glass shop go-fer, etc. Generally speaking these were brief encounters with the world of legitimate watch-the-clock labor.

I’ve been an active participant in the affairs of our neighborhood and have served on various non-profit boards and citizen committees. Recently my wife and I were key organizers in a successful bid to create a 13-acre park and organic farm in our neighborhood. I’m also an ardent paddler, have built numerous replicas of hunting kayaks created by the Inuit people of the far north, and am currently president of Qajaq USA, an affiliate of the Greenland national kayak association.

None of the above, as I’ve speechified at my two daughters’ weddings, is anywhere near what I consider the core of life and its meaning. That is all about my wife and the girls, who have brought me immeasurable happiness and beside which all else pales.