Coming Soon! A collection of nonfiction works by Stephanie Harrison: Men from a Broken Country



in-progress ... Men from a Broken Country:

You write the thing and then you have to write about the thing. The first is hard, the second is harder. At this point--while in progress--I'll just say this:

1. There are ten interconnected pieces.
2. Each piece contains a male character from some sort of broken country.
3. The following quote by John Cheever ran through my head through much of the writing:

The decade began for me with more promise than I can remember since my earliest youth. The war was over. Most of its reverberations were (for me) ended. I had done some work during the war but I had done it in holes in the ground and on ping-pong tables. Now this was over and I could work in peace. However, halfway through the decade, something went terribly wrong. The most useful image I have today is of a man in a quagmire, looking into a tear in the sky. I am not speaking here of despair, but of confusion. I fully expected the trout streams of my youth to fill up with beer cans and the meadows to be covered with houses; I may even have expected to be separated from most of my moral and ethical heritage; but the forceful absurdities of life today find me unprepared. Something has gone very wrong, and I do not have the language, the imagery or the concepts to describe my apprehensions. I come back again to the quagmire and the torn sky. One can think of thisóthe crudeness of this imageóas a challenge to a writer, and I will leave it at that.

Selected Works

You crossed the line, my friend Ann tells me. Iím visiting her in California. Weíve borrowed a trailer perched on a small mountain so that we can have a quiet place to write. Now Iím trying to explain why I canít focus, why my nerves are so jangly. Why I can only take short, shallow breaths ...
He reads Ragtime while being poisoned by a nurse with a woodpecker tattooed on her ankle, and afterwards he describes this to Lily over hamburgers and beer--he is ravenous (go figure)--and she chuckles...
Effortless, like floating in the Great Salt Lake. Forty years ago, as a boy, Zach McKenna did this while on vacation in Utah, and he's never forgotten the sensation of lying still on the surface of the water, arms and legs spread wide, perfectly buoyant. Lately he's been thinking that in the span of a lifetime, these moments are too...
This is how I remember it: I'm ten or eleven, lounging with my cousins and Aunt Corinne on her sun porch. She's wearing a pink Chanel-style dress, like Jackie Kennedy, and she's sipping iced tea from a hot-pink metal tumbler. She's just discovered, she tells usthat someone is living in her house while she and my uncle are at work. Her crossed legs are bare and one of them jiggles up and down while she talks. As she grows more excited--telling us about her strange feeling, the little things she couldn't put her finger on...