Set in a mythical Mohawk Valley town, the linked stories trace the boyhood and young adulthood of the central character from about 1959 to 1970:
Juliana's Little Cemetery describes a cemetery for pets created by an undertaker's daughter. When a smaller neighborhood boy volunteers to help her with the project, Juliana comes to accepts the steady supply of dead animals and birds that he provides. It is only by accident that she discovers exactly how the boy obtains the candidates for her graveyard.
Jimmy Jenko Was My Double resembled the narrator so closely that he was always getting blamed for the other boy's misdeeds, from arson to brandishing knives. People Who Live in the Feeney Flats were the kind of people to avoid, as three boys learned when they set out a rescue a stolen rabbit and discovered a murder.
How Willie Zimmerman Got Crippled: Two boys set a trap for the local misfit, convinced he is a danger to children.
My Sister Elizabeth Was Different: She was a terrific athlete in great contrast to her brothers and happened to be there when a boy rose from the dead in Kubichek's funeral home.
Snowstorm in Lover's Lane: The narrator becomes convinced that the girl he loves is trapped in a car buried under the snow on a local lover's lane.
Responsible for All These Souls: When teenage vandals break into the abandoned Beardslee mausoleum, cousin Genevieve takes home in a card board box scattered bones and skulls The Drowned Village: A swimming party ends in tragedy when the lively Karen vanishes beneath a murky lake.
Gracie Was Never a Prostitute: Even though everyone in school says that she is a prostitute, the narrator not only rescues Gracie from local hoods but falls in love with her.
An Appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary: In the summer of 1969 thousands flocked toWoodstock a hundred miles south but only one draft dodger saw the Virgin Mary.
Burying Uncle Artie becomes a family project when the monsignor refuses to let Artie go to the family plot in old St. Dymphna's Cemetery.
Several of the stories are also available as podcasts on SoundCloud
A new collection of stories set in the mythical upstate New York village of Asteronga is now available at Amazon in digital and paper formats. The sixteen stories are inspired by history, legends and rumors of the Mohawk Valley from the 1830s to the present.
The title story "The Immortal Woman of Asteronga" is inspired by an eccentric lesbian who once held court in an old Model T on Mary Street in Little Falls. In the story she is befriended by a high school girl who is mystified by her knowledge of ancient peoples and languages.
"When the Saints Came to Asteronga" features the return of Judge Nathaniel Benton and attorney Arphaxad Loomis, last seen in the novela of the underground railroad, "Greater Love." In the present story, the two legal scholars take action when the father and brothers of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith bring their new gospel to the small Erie Canal town.
"Factory Girl" is a variation on the story of the 1912 Little Falls textile strike described more fully in The Red Nurse. "Pursuit of Happiness" is a happier version of the 1914 school teacher murder in Poland, NY.
"The Colonel Takes Command" features the commander of the local Home Guard and combines elements of the Guard's infamous cattle slaughter at Camp Jolly and the manhunt for trunk murderer Mike Masco just before World War I.
"Bad Water" intersects with the cattle slaughter scene of the previous story but is primarily a study of a recovering alcoholic of a century ago.
"Battle at Indian Cave" features of gang of immigrant children who fight to save a disabled older boy from the 1917 military draft. Their hideout is in a forgotten cave not far from Overlook Mansion in Little Falls.
"The Colored Murderer" is a look at racial attitudes in an almost entirely white mill town and is inspired by an infamous domestic murder. Like other stories, this features the actual police and fire chiefs of Little Falls, New York.
"Sister Margaret Mary"is a look into the often desperate yet creative lives of the nuns who taught generations of Catholic children in Valley towns.
"Displaced Person" is about one of the many refugees who came from Europe in the aftermath of World War II, hiding terrible secrets about what they had seen and done.
"The Marxist of the Mohawk" is the tale of a couple whose love was destroyed by intrusive FBI agents dispatched to Asteronga by Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Golden Stairway to Heaven tells what happens when a DJ at Asteronga's radio station sees a UFO.
Check It, 99 is about Joe Halsdap who gets out of the Army in 1972 and decides to drive a taxi in New York City, only to retreat to Asteronga after discovering his own capacity for violence
"The Osatoot" is the story of a young boy trying to cope with his father's death.
"The Dead Boy's Suit" is a dark comedy of success in the 1960s.
The first collection of 11 Asteronga stories, published in 2013, is also available on Amazon . Ranging from the tale of an undertaker's daughter with her own special cemetery to "Burying Uncle Artie" and "Gracie Was Never a Prostitute," the grimly humorous stories are unified around the experiences of a boy growing up in the mid -20th century Mohawk Valley. A newly reformatted and revised version of the collection is available.
Since 2009 this site has focused on misunderstood or forgotten individuals and groups from the Mohawk and upper Hudson Valleys of New York state, a theme and setting I also explored in my historical novels. More recently, I have returned to an old interest in reading and writing poetry. For me, at least, the great poetry of past generations offers a pathway forward in this unprecedented crisis of our time. firstname.lastname@example.org