We Love Anderson Cooper, coming July 2019 from Celadon Books (Macmillan).
In this quirky, humorous, and deeply human short story collection, Pushcart Prize-nominated author R.L. Maizes reminds us that even in our most isolated moments, we are never truly alone.
In We Love Anderson Cooper, characters are treated as outsiders because of their sexual orientation, racial or religious identity, or simply because they look different. A young man courts the publicity that comes from outing himself at his bar mitzvah. When a painter is shunned because of his appearance, he learns to ink tattoos that come to life. A paranoid Jewish actuary suspects his cat of cheating on him—with his Protestant girlfriend.
In this debut collection, humor complements pathos. Readers will recognize themselves in these stories and in these protagonists, whose backgrounds are vastly different from their own—we’ve all been outsiders at some point.
My essay “Not My Birthday” aired on NPR’s Hanukkah Lights 2018 special, hosted by Susan Stamberg and Murray Horwitz. Click here to listen (scroll down to listen to individual essay).
“10 Perfect Writer Gifts We Just Made Up,” Electric Literature, November 30, 2018.
“13 Reasons You Really Didn’t See Coming for Why Your Short Story Was Rejected,” Brevity Blog, November 21, 2018.
“My Apology to Facebook for Cheating With Twitter,” Brevity Blog, October 24, 2018.
My short story “A Cat Called Grievous” appears in Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, January 10, 2018.
Excerpt from short story “Tattoo” in the Fall 2016 issue of Bellevue Literary Review
Trey knocked hard, and a slim woman wearing a Mountain Ink baseball cap came to the locked door of the tattoo shop. She gazed at him through the glass, keeping her expression blank, as polite strangers did. He knew what people saw: bulbous eyes, neck as thick as a bucket, and black moles as large as quarters splattered across his face, climbing into his nostrils and over his eyelids. Only his wife, Nava, didn’t seem to mind.
The woman pointed to the hours stenciled on the glass and called out: “Not till noon.” Images covered her arm—a red fox, wilting roses, a flaming skull, and the words “Mountain Ink” spilling from a jar of black ink and forming a silhouette of the Rocky Mountains. Butterflies froze midflight on her neck.
“Apprentice job,” he called back. He scratched his forearm though it didn’t itch and tugged at the sleeve of his black T-shirt. It had been two decades since he’d applied for a job.
She opened the door. “I’m Alisande. This is my shop,” she said, as she led him over a gray, polished concrete floor to a barber chair. She eyed his hairy arms and pale neck. “You don’t have any, do you?”
“You don’t have any ink, but you want to ink other people. Whatever. Have a seat, I guess.”
He wanted to say if it was a requirement, he’d get a dozen, but he didn’t want to sound desperate, so he kept quiet.
Excerpt from short story “Collections” in the Summer 2016 issue of Witness
She had forgotten how to live without money, forgotten the racks of expired bread and overripe bananas in the back of the supermarket and government programs that could pay for her eyeglasses. It seemed unfair to have to learn all that again when learning no longer came easily.
Her time of eating filet mignon and drinking vintage Tuscan wines with Peter was over. She thought often of his airy apartment, his startling art—giant frogs leaping about in one painting, a fat man and woman dancing in another. She had pushed his wheelchair into galleries where he was greeted by name—Mr. Drayson. He pointed to what he liked. The staff overlooked Maya, until Peter asked her opinion. Then they rushed to get her a glass of water to match his and she observed their confusion over who and what she was. She drank, though she wasn’t thirsty, hiding her face behind the glass until her anger passed.
His three daughters never visited, not until he was dying. Then they came and cried and read the will and stopped crying.