This Terrible Silence is a collection of nineteen stand-alone stories. The work largely focuses on characters on the fringe of society—alcoholics, gamblers, thieves, liars, cheaters, and loners, who feel trapped or destined to repeat their troubles. In the struggle to break free, either by self-fulfillment or outside interference, these stories showcase the characters’ hearts and wills in the face of often daunting or insurmountable desperation.
The stories in this collection are influenced by the work of Raymond Carver, and the Dirty Realism of Larry Brown, Breece DJ Pancake, Jayne Anne Phillips, and others. With minimal exposition, the characters are laid bare with cutting dialogue and active, scenic description. In the title piece, the narrator intends to tell a man vs. nature story of his encounter with a cougar, but quickly dissolves into a battle with his own slipping mental health in the face of a failing relationship. In the first-person point of view, the act of telling the story holds its own exigency for the narrator’s need to understand his or her motives and desires, as is most evident in Carver’s work, such as “Cathedrals.” In theme and style, I’ve sought to put together a collection that might allow readers to find truth and empathy from common, low, sometimes immoral, but largely human characters.