The Struggles - Short Fiction Tom Burkhalter

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The Struggles - Short Fiction  by  Tom Burkhalter

The Struggles - Short Fiction by Tom Burkhalter
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These stories span over thirty years of writing time. In themselves, they each represent that struggle that goes on inside a writer to bring something out of the inchoate darkness within the subconscious, and shove it out into the light for all toMoreThese stories span over thirty years of writing time. In themselves, they each represent that struggle that goes on inside a writer to bring something out of the inchoate darkness within the subconscious, and shove it out into the light for all to see who care to look.

Because of the time span these stories also represent something of a learning curve.The oldest short story in this collection is “Purple Heart.” I wrote that on a typewriter. Somewhere I still have the yellowed manuscript pages, held together with a rusting paperclip, that I carried from a failed marriage into an uncertain future and from one job and one apartment to another.Some of these were written on my first desktop PC.

I remember I was living in a weekly-rental motel room. I was drinking a bit too much and delivering pizza for Domino’s, as well as fighting the depression that seems to be the natural enemy of every writer. The youngest ones made the transition from PC to laptop. So the learning curve is not only the craft but the tools. Anyone who has converted a story from Word Perfect to Word will know exactly what I mean.Now I’m sending these strange children out into the world to see what others might make of them.

You’ll make your own judgment about them, based on what you yourself bring to the work. Perhaps it’s presumptuous of me to tell you a little about their genesis, but putting one word after another is what I do, and besides, I’m saying goodbye. These stories will never be quite all mine again.“The Visit” came out in a rush, and although I’ve moved commas around and made minor sentence changes over the years it is pretty much as it was written in that two-hour stretch in the spring of 1996 – eighteen years ago.

“Soldiers of the War” was modified a little more over the years because I was never quite happy with the ending. “The Ball Turret Gunner” was inspired by a poem written by Randall Jarrell, which is one of perhaps three poems I actually like. “One Step At a Time” was written for a short story workshop taught by Kevin Keck.

“Cutters” just sort of came to me- I was thinking about a no-nonsense Navy fighter pilot as a character and then started wondering about the guy’s father, a no-nonsense surgeon. I made some minor changes to the original version to produce the story you see here. “Mona Lisa” had a similar thought process- the model, the artist, and what’s in a smile? “Pedestal” is a little too personal to talk much about. We all face choices and regrets of that sort, and you’ll see what I mean when you read it.

“The Faraway Dreams of God” concerns a modern young man who is introduced to wonder on a warm Florida evening. What struggle do you suppose he might face?The struggle we face in and for life represents the core theme of these stories- every single one of us is in a struggle for our lives.

It may not seem quite so dramatic day to day, but someday each of us will be like Dr. Stephen Cutter, taking his last breath, and struggling to try to say one last thing to his wife.



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