Love, Sex, and Other Calamities

I wrote a few short stories during my early teens that are hardly worth thinking about now. They were very derivative science fiction stories that I never even typed out in finished form and I certainly didn't save the drafts.

I got more serious about it when I took a creative writing course in my junior year at Harvard. I was still a teen-ager but, I hope, more mature and I learned a lot from the course. The course had an interesting structure: In the first semester, we had to submit a story every week; in the second semester, we had to submit rewritten versions of those stories, based on criticism from instructors and fellow students.

Over the next 60-plus years, I was writing newspaper articles, feature stories, a humor column, book reviews, print ads, radio and television spots, brochures, press releases, and seven or eight books (depending on how you count). But now and then I found time to write a story or even work on a novel.

I never submitted any of my fiction for publication, mainly because my literary agent handled only non-fiction. Those unpublished writings, including notes, outlines, and fragments, filled the top drawer in a large filing cabinet and spilled over into the next floor down.

As I reread the short stories, I realized that many had themes of love and sex and I decided to put together a collection. I revised all of the stories I selected, some of them substantially, and I added a poem that fits well with the stories. Excerpts from an unpublished novel serve as the prologue and epilogue.

Incidentally, three of the stories in the collection were originally written for that creative writing course: "The Beating Heart," "Loving Fiona," and "The Anchor of a Love."

The collection, titled "Love, Sex, and Other Calamities," is available from Amazon as a paperback or a Kindle E-book.

In this section of the website, I offer a one-page synopsis of each story, with an excerpt.

A man arrives in a new city, hoping to start a new life, but he's still haunted by memories of past loves.
Prologue: Arrival

A 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl have a brief romantic encounter when their families are vacationing in neighboring lakeside cottages.
The Beating Heart

Two teenagers enjoy sexual experimentation when she babysits for her little brother while her parents are out drinking.
Chosen by Sharon

A high school boy has a crush on an older woman who identifies with Molly Bloom.
Loving Fiona

A college freshman falls in love with a high school freshman and is amazed at the depths of her passion.
The Anchor of a Love

A guy wins a girl's phone number in a drunken poker game and they fall in love.
Ideal Love

A college student is chosen to be her boy toy of the year by the supervisor at his part-time job.
The Boy Lover

A friendship between a Brandeis girl and a Harvard guy turns into a tragic love affair.
Life Is the Dream, Love Is Reality

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their meeting, a pop singer visits the newspaperman who helped launch her career and became her first lover.
The Singer, Not the Song

A couple meet a famous writer while tourists roam the streets of a seaside town, looking for artists.
Interlude: In Search of Artists

A reporter for a small-town newspaper and a college intern have a summer romance.

A young mother of two children finds temporary solace with a friend of her father's.
The Third Bastard

A barmaid frustrated with guys her age talks a much older man into asking her out.
Life Is a Short Story

A female law student from a wealthy family seduces a married architect.
Emergency Room

A poem addresses a not-so-coy mistress.
The Eye of the Hurricane

In bed beside his sleeping wife, an older man muses on his past lovers.
Epilogue: The Smell of a Woman