In ‘Wild World,’ If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em

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.

Permission to Write

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.”

Writing a Life That Informs Itself (& Megan Stielstra’s New Book)

In 2014, my first semester as a graduate student at Columbia College Chicago, I took a mixed grad/undergrad class called Story and Performance with Bobby Biedrzycki. All stories we write are, in some way, about ourselves, but this was the first time I wrote stories that were explicitly about me and it was the first… Continue reading Writing a Life That Informs Itself (& Megan Stielstra’s New Book)

For Little Grandma

Rita died recently. From what I was told, it was a "good death." Family at her side, acknowledgment, hand-holding, gratitude. Love. We should all hope for what my grandmother got in her final moments. She married into the Deeren family and without her, the Deerens would have faded into the annals of the Census Bureau decades ago. I'm the last of the Deerens.

I Couldn’t Write About My Hometown Until I Left

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.