"Art has to be three things: It has to be powerful, it has to be mysterious and it has to show the grandeur of being human."
-- Tony Witzel.
In one of the three short stories we present by Steve Silkin, one character gets shot in the gut. The image could be used to summarize the stories of Steve Silkin. He sets up his characters, reveals the situation, and then tears through your consciousness like a bullet. His stories, most of which are set during childhood, tell tales of lessons learned in the most agonizing possible ways; traumas that leave scars on the flesh and minds of their victims. These stories are chilling and direct.
Steve says: "In high school I read Kesey, Camus, Joyce and Hardy -- not in class, but through recommendations of teachers and friends. But it was while working at a porno theater in Los Angeles one summer that a projectionist there, Tony Witzel, introduced me to most of the writers that made me who I am: Nathaniel West, Cesare Pavese, Walker Percy, Flannery O'Connor. (I had heard of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Lawrence, of course -- but I'd never appreciated them until Tony explained their strengths.) We'd spend hours bonging in the projection booth and talking about books, music, films -- he had an encyclopedic knowledge of all three subjects. In addition to being able to discuss D.H. Lawrence's approach to religion at great length, he was building a Norton-Vincent motorcyle in the kitchen of his Santa Monica apartment. And Tony had bummed around Europe when he was younger, so because he was my role model, I went off and did the same. I rode my bike from Paris to Barcelona, worked at a cheap hotel in London, I traveled by thumb, bus, boat and train from France to Italy to Austria to Denmark and then settled in Paris. I studied the history of French literature at La Sorbonne and started a career in journalism at the International Herald Tribune. When I moved back to California, Tony and I wrote a film script together, which I later turned into my first novel. My friend Victoria got Tony a job as Bob Evans' personal projectionist, and later he became the chief projectionist of the Academy of Motion Pictures. We kept in touch, still talking about Beckett and Nicholas Ray and John Coltrane in weekly phone calls and occasional get togethers. Tony was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1997 and died in 1998. So this Artist's Page is for him. I owe him so much."
Other fiction by Steve Silkin appears online at Kimera, Eclectica, Tattoo Highway and in print at Northwoods Journal, Palo Alto Review and the Main Street Rag anthology One Paycheck Away.
His novels, Matt & Mariko -- an interracial romance set against a backdrop of the porn industry, defense contracting and insider trading -- and The Cemetery Vote -- a political thriller about election fraud -- will be published someday, we hope.
Steve's works here at Unlikely Stories are:
It Feels Like THIS
Top of Victory