Terence Crutcher’s murder is just an instance in the epidemic of police brutality and excessive use of force, themes dealt with in Peter S. Rush’s debut novel Wild World. Though Wild World is set in the ‘70s, it brings to light parallels between that era’s cultural and political climate and today’s tempestuous climate: peaceful protestors are vilified by the government and police officers beat and sometimes kill nonviolent suspects without repercussion.
There’s an important distinction between writers we imitate and writers who grant us permission. Writers we imitate tell us what we should be writing and writers who give us permission tell us what we can write. They expand our limitations and allow us to take risks. They jump off the cliff and disappear beneath the water’s surface, only to reappear a moment later and call up to us, “Come on in. The water’s fine.”
Like many young writers, I had the idea to write a book of interconnected stories about my hometown and its people, my own Dubliners or Lost in the City. I’d call it, I don’t know, The Avenues after the series of parallel streets intersecting the Esplanade. Each story would be like each row of homes like broken teeth hidden under a canopy of oak. My final semester at Chico State, I wrote two of the stories that I envisioned would be part of the collection, but I didn’t get any further than that. In some dark and forgotten corner of my Google Drive, there exists a folder of false starts, scenes that didn’t make it past 250 words.