Bakery bouncers and guns (or the lack thereof)

B01C0SQJWC-200px-1.jpgNext week marks the release of a collection I am very excited to be a part of: Unloaded: Crime Writers Writing Without Guns, edited by Eric Beetner and published by Down & Out Books.

All of the stories in the collection are required to not involve guns, and proceeds from the collection will benefit the nonprofit States United To Prevent Gun Violence.

Some of you might be thinking: “Why are you bringing politics into your writing career? Don’t you know that you’ll alienate part of your audience? You are a crazy person!”

Maybe!

If some people decide they don’t want to buy my books because I contributed a story to this, I’m okay with that. I’d rather have said something that nothing.

Guns are a touchy subject. Here’s my take, for what it’s worth: Putting aside the thorny issue of mass shootings—I’m a lifelong resident of New York City. The gun culture here is very different from, say, Alabama.

In Alabama someone might buy a gun to go hunting or as a hobby. In New York chances are, if someone has a gun, they would like to shoot you with it. Plus, I used to be a reporter covering crime, and I’ve seen first-hand the havoc guns can wreak on bodies and families.

So, I personally am not a great fan of guns. Clearly, there is a problem with our gun culture, which is something I think everyone except the NRA can agree on.

How to address it is where we might beg to differ.

States United to Prevent Gun Violence has a couple of core goals I like a lot. You can read more about them here, if you’re interested. I sincerely hope this book sells a fuckload of copies and contributes to their mission.

Now, on to the collection.

The names in this thing are fantastic, and I feel proud to be counted among them: J.L. Abramo, Patricia Abbott, Trey R. Barker, Eric Beetner, Alec Cizak, Joe Clifford, Reed Farrel Coleman, Angel Luis Colón, Hilary Davidson, Paul J. Garth, Alison Gaylin, Kent Gowran, Jeffery Hess, Grant Jerkins, Joe R. Lansdale, S.W. Lauden, Tim O’Mara, Joyce Carol Oates, Tom Pitts, Thomas Pluck, Keith Rawson, Kelli Stanley, Ryan Sayles, and Holly West.

I’m also happy my story “Creampuff” is out in the world.

Last year some friends and I were walking through the East Village and passed Big Gay Ice Cream on East 7th. It can get pretty crowded, and on this particular night, there was a bouncer outside, working a rope to control the flow of customers.

I love writing about New York City, and I especially love writing about the city’s food culture. So for me, a bakery bouncer was very much a thing worth exploring.

The story turned out better than I could have hoped, in that sometimes I write stuff that’s supposed to be silly or over the top—and I wanted to do something a little more thoughtful.

Especially because, as a writer of mostly dark and crime-oriented fiction, I’ve been thinking a lot about things like guns: The use of them, the glorification of them, but more than that, the toll on human life, and what the loss of a life does to the world around us, even if we might not immediately notice.

I’m very happy with how it turned out. And I was especially thrilled when Publishers Weekly reviewed it and said this:

Many of the best selections are character driven, such as Joyce Carol Oates’ strangely hypnotic “Lorelei” and Rob Hart’s “Creampuff,” which offers a warm slice of New York City life. 

Yes, this is me bragging a little. It’s an incredible, incredible honor to be cited like that, especially alongside an author like Joyce Carol Oates.

The book comes out on April 18. You can pre-order it, but I hear print copies are already showing up on doorsteps, and a few copies are currently sitting next to the register in The Mysterious Bookshop.

You can find it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as other places books are sold.

Thanks kindly to Eric for including the story, and to Down & Out for publishing it.

It’s a small drop in the vast ocean of a big, complicated, heart-rending issue—but to steal a line from Cloud Atlas, what is an ocean but a collection of drops?

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