Jeff Fearnside

Jeff Fearnside delivers short stories worth the wait

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Jeff Fearnside has his new year’s goal set out for himself – finish his novel. And he’s hoping that novel, when finished, won’t take as long to see print as his first book of fiction, “Making Love While Levitating Three Feet in the Air.” The Bowling Green native who now lives in Corvallis, Oregon, completed that manuscript in 2005. The stories had already won awards including the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Award. The collection was a finalist for the New River Press MVP award. Publishing, he thought, at the time “was just around the corner.” But what was right around the corner was frustration. “Then it didn’t go to the next level,” he said in a recent telephone interview. “I lost faith and stopped sending it out. Something I now really regret. That put me behind.” He advises other writers not repeat to that mistake. “Keep the faith.” When he decided to start submitting the manuscript again, it wasn’t long before he struck a deal with Stephen Austin State University Press. The book was published in 2016. “It all worked out in the end,” he said. “Making Love” brings together 13 short stories, including the six he submitted for his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing thesis from Eastern Washington University in 2000. The stories are “stylistically all over the board,” the author said. There’s realism, allegory, magic realism, and surrealism. “I like a collection that has a little bit of eclecticism to it.” What holds them together is keen psychological insight expressed in clear, shapely prose. The collection opens with the quirky realism of “Nuclear Toughskins,” about coming of age in the shadow of the bomb and includes the allegory, “Cat People,” in which feline overlords dish out just desserts to those who have treated them well or badly. For the record, Fearnside has two cats and is assured of rewards should his fantastical vision come true. On the other end of the spectrum is “Going for Broke,” a straightforward piece of historical fiction. Fearnside tells of a talented Japanese American baseball pitcher, struggling against prejudice to make it to the big leagues after being interned during World War II. The settings of several stories become characters. Fearnside locates his tales in places he knows –…