Suicidally Beautiful


In stock

A Collection of Sports Stories 

Edited by

Dennis F. Bormann & Stephen Taylor

Poetry book, 84 pages, cover price $15.95

($10 if ordered from the MSR Online Bookstore)

ISBN: 978-1-59948-356-6

Release date: 2012



Charles Blackburn, Jr., Raleigh, NC
Charles Blackburn, Jr. grew up in Henderson, NC, attended UNC-Chapel Hill and Barton College. Early in his career, he roamed the state as a reporter and editor for four small-town newspapers. He has also been a bookshop owner and associate director of public relations at Duke University Medical Center. Since 1991, he has been communications manager for Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society. Blackburn is a past president of the NC Writers’ Network and NC Writers Conference. His fiction, poetry, and features have appeared in many regional and national publications. He is a three-time winner of Crucible‘s annual fiction award, the recipient of the Sam Ragan Award for Literature from St. Andrews Presbyterian College, and a literary fellowship in fiction from the NC Arts Council. Charles plays guitar in a rock band called When Cousins Marry.


Anthony Bukoski, Superior, WI
Anthony Bukoski is the author of five short-story collections. His stories have appeared in New Letters, The Literary Review, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. His collection Time Between Trains (Southern Methodist University Press 2003) was named a Booklist Editor’s Choice. After Liev Schreiber read the title story to a live audience at Symphony Space in New York City; it was subsequently broadcast on NPR’s “Selected Shorts” program. A former Christopher Isherwood Foundation Fellowship winner, Bukoski’s most recent books are North of the Port (SMU, 2008) and Twelve Below Zero: New and Revised Edition(Holy Cow! Press, 2008).


Jeanie Chung, Chicago, IL
Jeanie Chung’s fiction and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Drunken Boat, upstreet, Numero Cinq, Stymie online and elsewhere. This story is part of a novel-in-stories based on her time as a sportswriter covering high school and college basketball for the Chicago Sun-Times.




Michael Lunny Duffy, Morristown, NJ
Michael Lunny Duffy has an M.F.A., teaches writing at a university, and has published short stories in literary journals–Cimarron Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, and the New Mexico Humanities Review, among others.






Demian Entrekin, Oakland, CA
Demian Entrekin is a technology entrepreneur in the San Francisco Bay Area and has founded two successful software companies. He holds an M.A. in English from San Francisco State University and has published poems, stories and articles in journals and small press magazines. He authors an award-winning technology blog called Future States and has published numerous papers on software development and the software industry. He is also a regular contributor on, a website that covers entrepreneurial business and industry trends.


Mike Falcon, Los Angeles, CA
Mike Falcon was formerly the editor of Max Muscle Magazine and a columnist for both, the women’s collegiate volleyball website, and Spotlight Health, which appeared in USA Today. He holds an MFA in Professional Writing from University of Southern California and a BA in English from Immaculate Heart College, where he studied under Mark Harris and Theodore Sturgeon. He lives in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles.




William J. Francis, Dallas, TX
Lives outside of Dallas, TX with his son. Spend his free time writing short stories and working on a novel. My work has appeared in The Cabinet of Dr. Casey, Tantalus Fire, Black Petals, and the Pen Dragon Press anthology Nasty Snips.




Gaynell Gavin, Columbia, SC
Gaynell Gavin’s poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction have appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Fourth Genre, The Main Street Rag, North Dakota Quarterly, Best New Poets 2006, and The Best of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her essay, “What We Have,” published in Prairie Schooner, was included among “Notable Essays ” in The Best American Essays 2009. She was a finalist in the AWP Award Series in Creative Nonfiction, and her poetry chapbook, Intersections, was published by Main Street Rag. Originally from Illinois, she now lives with her husband and menagerie in Columbia, South Carolina. She is a faculty member at Claflin University.


Philip Gerard, Wilmington, NC
Philip Gerard is the author of three novels, four books of nonfiction, and numerous documentary scripts, essays, radio commentaries, and short stories. With Jill Gerard, he co-edits Chautauqua, the literary journal of Chautauqua Institution (NY). He chairs the Department of Creative Writing at University of North Carolina Wilmington.




Frank Haberle, Brooklyn, NY
Frank Haberle’s stories have appeared in numerous print and web-based journals including So New Media’s Necessary Fiction,Adirondack Review, L Magazine, Birmingham Arts Journal, Cantaraville, Broken Bridge Review, Taj Mahal Review, 34th Parallel,Hot Metal Press, Melic Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Johnny America, the Starry Night Review, the East Hampton Star and theCity Writers Review. Frank is a professional grant writer and a Board member and workshop leader of the NY Writers Coalition, a nonprofit group committed to providing community writing opportunities for disenfranchised New Yorkers. Born in New York City and raised in New England, Frank migrated back to Brooklyn 25 years ago, where he lives with his wife and three children.


Atari Hadari, Hebden Bridge, UK
Atar Hadari was born in Israel, raised in England and won a scholarship to study poetry and playwrighting with Derek Walcott at Boston University. His Songs from Bialik: Selected Poems of Hayim Nahman Bialik (Syracuse University Press 2000) was a finalist for the American Literary Translator’s Association Award 2001. Four times nominated for the Pushcart prize by magazines such asNew York Stories, Margin, Witness and Larcom Review, his story “Deacon,” merited honorable mention in the 2001 anthology. He won the Liverpool Literature Festival’s “Pulp Idol” novelist competition by reading two minutes from his novel, When We Were Saved, of which this story is another chapter.


Thomas E. Kennedy, Denmark
Thomas E. Kennedy’s novel Falling Sideways will be published by Bloomsbury in 2011, following In the Company of Angels (2010), the first two books of his Copenhagen Quartet, four independent novels about the seasons and souls of the Danish capital. Kennedy’s 25+ books include novels, story and essay collections, literary criticism, translation and anthologies. His work appears regularly in American periodicals such as New Letters, Glimmer Train, Ecotone, Epoch, The Literary Review, Serving House Journal and many others and has won O. Henry and Pushcart prizes and a National Magazine Award (an “Ellie”) in the essay genre. He teaches in the Fairleigh Dickinson University MFA Program, holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and Ph.D. from the University of Copenhagen, and is co-publisher, with Walter Cummins, of ServingHouseBooks.


Carolyn P. Lawrence, Williamsburg, VA
Carolyn P. Lawrence is a retired religious educator and university campus minister who has won awards for both fiction and nonfiction. Her essays have appeared in America, National Catholic Reporter, St. Anthony Messenger, and the Virginia Gazette. A previous short story was published in The MacGuffin. She is an avid ACC basketball fan, loves “March Madness,” and enjoys biking and traveling.




Jen McConnell, Rocky River, OH
Jen McConnell is a native of Southern California and moved to San Francisco in 1996. In 2001, she received an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont. She has published seven of the short stories from her manuscript, Welcome Anybody, in literary journals including Bacopa Literary Magazine, SNReview, Clackamas Literary Review, and UC Santa Barbara’s Spectrum. After living on both coasts for most of her life, she currently make her home on the Lake Erie shore, though she escapes back to the Bay Area as often as possible (Go Giants!). and supports her writing habit by working in non-profit marketing and communications.



Deirdre Murray-Holmes, Tujunga, CA
Deirdre Murray-Holmes is a Los Angeles area producer and writer whose world view was framed by 70s pop music and the originalStar Trek series. She spends her time making movies, watching baseball, and steadfastly awaiting her overdue deus ex machina.




Mark Pearson, Houston, TX
Mark Pearson attended the University of Michigan on a wrestling scholarship then returned to his home state, Pennsylvania, where he worked as a journalist and pursued his interest in fiction. He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Georgia; he also has an M.A. in English and creative writing from the University of California, Davis. His fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming in Aethlon, Blueline, Broken Bridge Review, Carve, Gray’s Sporting Journal, Short Story, and Stories. He currently lives in Houston, TX, with his wife and two daughters.



Charles Rammelkamp, Baltimore MD
Charles Rammelkamp lives and writes in Baltimore, MD. He is the author of a novel, The Secretkeepers(Red Hen Press), two collections of short fiction, A Better Tomorrow (PublishAmerica) and Castleman in the Academy (March Street Press), a full-length collection of poetry, The Book of Life (March Street Press) and half a dozen poetry chapbooks. For several years, Rammelkamp has been editing the online literary journal, The Potomac ( and has guest-edited several other online and print journals as well. He grew up in Michigan, a Detroit Tigers fan and rooted for the hapless Red Sox during much of the 1970’s and 1980’s when he lived in Boston. He and his wife moved to Baltimore in 1983, the last year the Orioles won the American League pennant and the World Series.


Lee Ann Robins, Monroe GA
Lee Ann Robins is from Meridian, Mississippi and received her BA in Journalism and Broadcasting from Mississippi State University. After working as a journalist and a photographer in New Orleans, she has taught English, Creative Writing, AP Literature, French, and Journalism in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. Her work has won awards from the Alabama Writers Conclave, Meridian Community College Review, and Tennessee High School Press Association. She has published articles and stories in The Meridian Star, The Jackson Sun, and The West Tennessee Writing Project. In 2001, she was chosen to represent Tennessee for the Al Neuharth Freedom Forum, and she has received fellowships from Quill and Scroll, the Journalism Education Association, and The American Society of Newspaper Editors.


Colleen Shaddox, Hamden, CT
Colleen Shaddox’s work has been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor and many national magazines. As a journalist, she’s interviewed royalty, a Nobel Laureate and a bank robber (who confessed to her print). She lives in Connecticut, where she often finds herself surrounded by Yankee fans.




Jane St. Clair, Tucson, AZ
Jane St. Clair grew up in Chicago, and graduated from Northwestern University. She has been a staff member of the TV show “Sesame Street,” and a newspaper reporter for several newspapers, including the Louisville Courier-Journal. She is the author of 21 children’s books and a novel entitled Walk Me to Midnight. Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines like the Red Rock Review and Thema, as well as several other anthologies. She is a soccer mom of four children in Tucson, Arizona.



Michael Stigman, Weston, MO
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Michael Stigman cut his teeth on hockey sticks and skates, baseball gloves and bats, basketball and football. He has lived in Virginia, and in Lawrence, Kansas, where he earned a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing at University of Kansas. His dissertation, which consists of fourteen stories, includes “Gunn and The Hammer.” Stories he has written appear in Sycamore Review, South Dakota Review, AGNI-Online, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He lives with his wife and their three children in Weston, Missouri, and he teaches in the English department at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.


William J. Torgerson, College Point, NY
William Torgerson teaches in the Institute For Writing Studies at St. John’s University in Queens, New York. His novel Love on the Big Screen was released in 2011. He’s adapted the novel for the screen and his script has been named a semi-finalist in the Rhode Island International Screen Festival writing competition. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, including NYU’s Anamesa, Old Dominion University’s Barely South Review, the University of Maryland’s Sakura. He blogs at TheTorg.Com and enjoys writing-related conversations on Facebook.


Gordon Weaver, Cedarburg, WI
Gordon Weaver is the author of four novels, ten collections of short stories, as well as a collection of poems. He was the founding editor of Mississippi Review, fiction editor and editor of Cimarron Review, managing editor of the AWP Award Series for Short Fiction, and General Editor of the Twayne Series for Short Fiction. With more than a hundred of his stories published, Weaver’s novel Count a Lonely Cadence was adapted for the movie Cadence. Weaver has been awarded the St. Lawrence Award for Fiction (1973), the Quarterly West novella prize, two Pushcart Prizes, two NEA fellowships, Best American Short Stories (1980 for “Hog’s Heart”), the O. Henry Award (1979), The Sherwood Anderson Award (1982), and the 2002 Andrew Lytle Fiction Prize. Father of three daughters, Weaver currently lives in Wisconsin.


J. Weintraub, Chicago, IL
J. Weintraub has published fiction, essays, translations, and poetry in The New Criterion, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Chicago Reader, Modern Philology and many other reviews and periodicals. He has received awards for writing from the Illinois and Barrington Art Councils, was an Around-the-Coyote poet, is currently a network playwright at Chicago Dramatists, and has been a featured writer/reader in such well-known Chicago literary salons as the Red Lion Pub, the Uptown Writer’s Space, and the Bourgeois Pig.

Check out a YouTube video of Joe reading from Suicidally Beautiful at the Tuesday Funk event in Chicago:



Dennis F. Bormann, Columbia, SC.
Dennis F. Bormann was born 35 miles from NYC in Suffern, NY. Vermont College granted him a MFA in Creative Writing (Genre: Fiction). Continuing his education at Oklahoma State University with his mentor Gordon Weaver (who he met at VC) he received a Ph.D. in English. Besides his academic career, Bormann’s been a gardener, house painter, bartender at a longshoreman’s gin mill in NJ, delivered drugs (legally), house-roofer in Florida, and sold high fashion women’s shoes in LA. He was even an investment banker in LA (people actually trusted him with their money-go figure.) The last seventeen years he’s taught literature and creative writing at the oldest HBCU in South Carolina, Claflin University. Bormann has been a fiction editor for Midlands Review, Cimarron Review, Short Story, currently is the short story editor for MSR’s literary magazine (The Main Street Rag). His short novel, Airboat, was published by MSR in August 2011. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina with his wife Linda, and is the proud parent of a son and daughter, AJ and Katie.


Steve Taylor, La Crescenta, CA.
Steve Taylor teaches at Glendale College where he has won a whole bunch of teaching awards due to a system he worked out where the students do all the work and give him all the credit. The stuff he writes has gotten him an L.A. Arts Council Literature Award, won him the 2004 Main Street Rag Short Fiction Contest, and made him a two-time finalist and this year one of three Honorable Mentions in The Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction given by Nimrod International Journal. Humoring him in this way has only increased his urge to write even more stuff.

From the Editors:

In the fall of 1967 I was in a full leg cast for a medial collateral ligament tear and following my favorite football coach up the metal ladder that lead to the roof of the school. It was from there we would spot for the game against Haverstraw H. S. This was a perspective I had never seen before.

The week before I would have been in the locker room hearing the muffled sound of the band. I was usually quiet before a game with my preparation. First in line to be taped. Well, to be honest, there was no line. I would have to wait on one of the coaches to get there. Then I’d go off by myself until it was time to get dressed out. Once uniformed the adrenaline would build. It was a rush.

But now, on the roof, I watched the influx of fans, some of the cheerleaders doing their thing, then the gathering of the band to blare the H.S. fight anthem, its music stolen years before from Notre Dame, (“bring out the whiskey, bring out the rye…”). It was crisp New York autumn air, breezy. The flags of the color guard beat time in this breeze. The panorama a vista of the fall climax. Coach Hoffman, a man we called “Coacheese” because of his florid completion, nudged me with his forearm, then gestured with a nod of his head toward the view splayed out before us and said, “How can anyone not love a football game.”

— D. Bormann

I probably didn’t play center field half as brilliantly as I remember, but I’m not thinking about my own imagined prowess anyway. I’m thinking of a tee-ball game I stopped to watch like I do sometimes to smile and remember what sports are supposed to be. There was an outfielder in that game whose work was all done by sheer will. He didn’t so much run as hop in a jerky sideways gallop like he was pretending to ride an imaginary horse. Something was wrong, of course, cerebral palsy maybe or some malformation of his hips. I remember him leaning forward as much as he could before each play, only a slight arch of his back–I don’t think he could set his hands on his knees–but he popped his glove with his fist like he wanted the ball. It didn’t take long to notice something else too. The coach of the team at bat was whispering to the on-deck batters, and you could see what he was telling them, because his head would turn a little toward right field, and the hitters turned their stances in that direction. It took a few minutes to believe it was actually happening, but there was no mistaking it, three, four, five balls in a row all hit to right. Some of us got mad, of course, when we were sure, but what we did or said doesn’t matter. What matters is the kid galloping sideways after the ball regardless of how far it rolled. He never caught one on the fly–this wasn’t fantasy–he had to slide to his knees even to pick up the ball, then sling it over his head like a hand grenade. And each time afterward that kid arched forward and popped his glove. It’s that pop I want most to remember, the pop of the spirit.

— S. Taylor

Both of us, of course, turned to literature to summon the power of memory and hear the pop of the spirit. The title Suicidally Beautifulcomes from a line in the James Wright poem “Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio,” which, as the poet contemplates the start of football season, conjures the psychic complexity, the grandeur, sacrifice, and delusion embodied in sports:

Their sons grow suicidally beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other’s bodies.

The same, of course, now holds true for their daughters as well, and the range and quality of stories collected here powerfully amplify this complexity.



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