author bio


Josip Novakovich


When I found out that a Bosnian family had moved into our neighborhood, just across from my place, I was thrilled. I had left Bosnia seven years before, and I hardly ever saw anybody from there.
      To me now it didn't matter whether the neighbors were Muslims, Croats, or Serbs from Bosnia; the main thing was that they were Bosnian, that they spoke the language I loved and hadn't heard in a while, but when I learnt that they were a Croatian family from Bugojno, I was all the more delighted.  And nostalgic. Perhaps I could have gone home, but I didn't trust it: my home town was in Republika Srpska. Under the NATO supervision, it was already possible to go back, and probably nothing bad would have happened, but I still couldn’t see sleeping there without streetlights around.  I recalled the events  before my departure. Some people had already fled from my hometown because they’d heard the Serb army was coming, but I didn’t believe they would bother me. If they were targeting people ethnically, I thought I was safe, since I was half Serb, half Croat. Then, one night, somebody knocked on the door, and shouted, Open up! Police.
      I looked through the door and saw two men with masks over their heads.
      That’s not what you’d expect police to look like. What would police need to talk to me about anyway?
      I went to the kitchen, took a sharp, mid-sized knife, put it in my sleeve and waited while they tore the door down. I hid in a clothes’ cabinet. The two thugs went through the house, overturning the tables, smashing the china, and they shouted for me to come out. One walked into the basement, and the other opened the toilet. At that moment, I sneaked out of the closet, walking softly, barefoot. But he saw me and ran after me and knocked me down. The knife slid out of my sleeve and fell on the floor but he must not have heard it because he’d knocked down a pile of plates on the way, and they crashed on the floor. He tore my clothes off. Meanwhile, the man--or should I say, beast--downstairs kept smashing the jars of jam and pickled peppers; suddenly he quieted because probably he’d found the wine bottles.
      The thug pinned me to the floor and as I tried to throw him off my body, he whacked my head against the boards. I am pretty strong, and I think I could have thrown him off if he hadn’t whacked my head each time I moved. It hurt terribly. I thought migraines were the worst headache you could have, but this was worse, it hurt deeper inside, and I was dizzy, as though my brain had turned around in my skull and was now loose and wobbling.
      He slid a little lower and sat on my thighs. You must help me to get it hard, he said.
      I don’t want to.
      You must. Here, take it into your hand.
      I did with one hand.
      It’s awkward like that, can I sit up, I asked.
      Sure, no problem.
      I sat up sideways, felt on the floor for the knife, grabbed its handle, and without hesitation stuck the knife into him. I wanted to get him in the middle of his abdomen but I missed and stuck it to the side, the left side. I did not think it went deep.
       He shrieked and didn’t react when I leaped to the side and ran straight out of doors. And so, I ran into the hills, naked, in the cold November night. I nearly froze, turned blue, and didn’t know where to hide, except in the Benedictine monastery on top of the hill. I broke into the chapel in the middle of matins, five in the morning now, still dark. The poor men crossed themselves, hid their faces, prayed in Latin, and I heard one word, which I liked, misericordia. But one of them, said, Brothers, don’t be silly. Help her! He took off his brown garment, put it over me, and stood there in his striped shirt and long johns.
      The monks gave me hot water and coffee, and when I stopped shivering, I wanted to run away. I told them what had happened and advised them to run away as well. The one who had intervened for me drove me west, to Mostar. As he drove he wanted to hold hands with me. No harm, I thought. And indeed, what harm was it? This fifty-year-old man, holding hands. He did not ask for anything more. I think he just loved some female creature comfort. I did not wait for further developments. I stole a bicycle in Mostar, and rode it all the way into Croatia, to Metkovic. That was not hard since the road mostly goes downhill. And in Croatia, I appealed to Caritas, who gave me the papers and let me go abroad, to the States. Now that was more adventure than I had hoped to get.
      I've always wanted to be a homebody. I never got the joy of travel, wanderlust. Nearly the only aspect of travel I enjoyed as a kid was the homecoming. I'd rush to the side of the train, as it crested the hill before my hometown, and seeing the first glimpse of the church steeples and the minaret and the old castle, made me happy. So it's all the more miraculous to me that I have become a world-traveler, an American.
      And my workplace, a bank, is nice. Next to it, there’s a restaurant, Dubrovnik. I don’t need to go into it, but just knowing it’s there comforts me; it’s a bit of homeland. And just recently, I did go into it with my fellow bank-teller, a Polish woman named Maria. We walked up the stairs into the restaurant and entered a tobacco cloud. The guests in the stinging smoke gave me an impression that a group of angels was noisily resting in the cloud. Since I couldn’t make out many details I saw only the silhouettes blowing smoke from their cigarettes, feeding their blue cloud, as if the moment the cloud vanished, they would all fall to earth. I liked to imagine that the gathering was a choir of smoked angels but I knew it was unlikely that any of them were angels; most were recent immigrants from Herzegovina and Croatia, and some had participated in the war.
      As I savored soft chicken paprikash, Maria said, You know, a Bosnian family moved into our neighborhood, right next door to yours. Have you met them?
      No. I had no idea that anybody moved in.
      They are having a grill next Saturday. They invited me, and I can bring along anybody I want. Would you like to come along?
      Maria wiped her shiny lips and cheeks with a napkin from her lap, and added, They are quite handsome.
      Her napkin turned red.

The green backyard of my new neighbors was enveloped in the grill smoke; I enjoyed the smell of coal.
      That is one aspect of American culture we from the Balkans quickly adapt to, grilling cutlets and sausages, although we add our variant to it, chevapi, spicy mixed meat. The boom-box on the windowsill played folk music, the kind that used to bore and bother me, but now made me feel at home. You know, accordion, bass, and a wailing voice.
      The bald host wore a green outfit as though he were in a hospital, and when I asked him whether he was a doctor, he said, I work at Mercy hospital as an X-ray technician.
      That’s a good job, isn’t it? How many hours a week counts as full time?
      So you have lots of free time. Nice.
      It could be nicer. I studied to be a doctor in Sarajevo, did very well, but wasn’t very wise: I participated in a protest against Tito, had to go to prison, and couldn’t go back to the university afterward. I had no choice but to emigrate.
      Have you met my nephew yet? He pointed out a man who was facing away from us. The man turned around, balding like his uncle, with a wide bony face, and teeth unusually white for someone from our parts—they were also wide-spaced and maybe that’s what saved them.
       He looked familiar, but the more I looked at him, the more I was sure that I was wrong. That is just it—many people from my native region can give me that feeling of familiarity even without my ever having met them. In my hometown, they’d all be strangers to me, but the familiar kind of stranger, and that is what I imagined I was responding to.
      He came over to me and asked where I was from and what I did, the kind of questions you would not expect from someone from our native region, but from an American.
      When  I told him I worked for a bank, he grew wildly enthusiastic. I need to buy a house, he said. Can you get me a mortgage? What’s the best rate you can offer?
      That depends on your credit rating.
      Credit rating, phew. How would I have any? But I have a refugee status, and a Lutheran church backing me. And I just got a job, as an electrician.
      You must be smart then. A dumb electrician would be dangerous.
      You are right about that. But maybe I am a dumb and brave electrician.
      Have you ever got a good shock?
      Of course, who hasn’t. Even you have an electrical shock story.
      Bank, he said. Isn’t it boring to work there?
      Not in the least. There are many Croats and Slovenes there but not Bosnians.
      So it must be boring!
      It’s always interesting with our people—they are still to my mind our people. One day a man paid for his entire new house in cash. He opened a brown suitcase—it was full of ten-dollar bills. Nothing but ten-dollar bills.
      ‘Why don’t you write a check?’ I asked him.
      ‘Can’t trust checks,’ he said.
      ‘And why only 10-dollar bills?’
       ‘Can’t trust no hundret-dollar bills,’ he said. ‘Too many Italians here. They are all Mafioso, and that’s what they do, they print fake bills. Ten dollar is the best.’
      He was an old Croatian car dealer. The motto of his dealership was, Honest Cars for Honest Cash. You wouldn’t imagine that someone completely stuck in the cash economy could become rich, but that man did, bringing half a million dollars just like that. I wonder how he dared walk in the streets, alone, with all the cash. 
      Dragan laughed. ‘Our people are such hopeless hicks! All of us are peasants.’
      He kept standing closer and closer, and I moved a little away from him, and so we kept moving around the yard. I was keenly aware of it, and he apparently wasn’t, or didn’t mind. Perhaps I had adopted the American subconscious concept of personal space, which is about an arm’s length, so nobody can touch you or hit you without your getting a chance to duck; it’s also convenient because at that distance anybody’s bad breath would dissolve in the air and you wouldn’t have to suffer it and likewise, you wouldn’t have to worry that if you had morning breath, you’d make people uncomfortable breathing in your free-floating bacteria. I like this Anglo-Saxon personal space, but naturally, a fresh arrival from Bosnia wouldn’t understand the space and would find it cold and standoffish.
      But after a while it occurred to me that he was not so much after a house and mortgage as after me.
      In the meanwhile, his uncle was retelling Bosnian jokes to Anna, who rewarded him with her booming laughter.
      We ate chevapi then. I looked forward to the taste, but the meat was overgrilled. Our hosts were too eager to talk and so they forgot the meat. Actually, since we didn’t use to have refrigerators in the Balkans, we customarily overgrilled meat, to make sure to kill all the bacteria. Only here did I for the first time see people eating bloody meat, calling it rare and medium rare. With us, there was only one way: well-done. At any rate, while I loved the smell of grilled meat, I couldn’t eat the charcoal crusts to get to the meat. Instead, I drank the red wine Dragan offered—and it was spectacular, Grgich, deep red and purple, tasting of plums, for some reason.  Now both he and I relaxed, and he told me his repertoire of Bosnian jokes. Strangely, though I found many of them funny, now I couldn’t remember any.
      Anyway, I agreed to get together with this man, Dragan—for no serious reason, other than that I loved speaking Bosnian. I guess that’s a serious enough reason. We met in our neighborhood beer hall. That’s one thing about Cleveland—it has many ethnic neighborhoods, and this was the German contribution.
      You know, he said, my uncle is a funny cat. At night, he sometimes dresses like a doctor and pretends to be one, and visits patients in the clinic, even offering them new diagnoses and advising them to undergo surgery; he loves to advise heart patients to get transplants. He was caught impersonating a doctor and fired, but then, there was such a shortage of nurses and medical technicians that they let him come back. He suffers on the job because he imagines he knows much more than his superiors. He is so absorbed in his status struggle that he neglects other aspects of his life. He lent his life savings to a friend of his from Bosnia, 40,000 dollars, without a security note, just on the honorable word. The friend disappeared, and that was that for life savings. What an idiot my uncle is!
      How can you speak so badly of him? He takes care of you.
      I am not speaking badly of him. Everybody knows what he’s done. It’s funny.
      Mostly sad. He lost so much money. And he pretends to be what’s he’s not. Does that run in the family?
      What do you mean? Crazy generosity? Well . . .
      No, pretending.
      I don’t pretend anything.
      I did not say you did. I simply wonder whether what he’s doing is a family trait.
      Is that how you talk for fun?
      Yes, I continue a theme, a thread. So he’s your uncle.
      And so? What are you getting at? (He sat up from his chair.)
      My God, I thought you had a sense of humor.
      Yes, I had it.
      OK, mellow out. Have a beer.
     Good idea. Two Guinnesses please, he asked the waitress, and turned his head. The waitress wore a short skirt and black stockings that went only a few inches above her knees, so there was a stretch of thighs between the hem of the skirt and the stocking.
      Good body, I said.
      Guinness has lots of body.
      She has a good body.
      You noticed?
      I noticed you noticing.
      Oh, here we go again. You are catching me or something?
      I noticed her style. I don’t know whether she has a good body, but the style’s--
      I forgot how difficult our women can be. Now I feel right at home.
      Same goes for me and our men. I do feel at home. That’s the point, I wanted to feel like I was home.
      And that’s why you agreed to come out with me?
      It doesn’t matter what I am like, the main thing is I’m from over there?
      It matters what people are like.
      The beer was foamy and cool, and left a creamy edge on his lips, which he never wiped off right away, but talked like that, with the foam on his upper lip.
      The second round of ale got to my head. The American bars are dark. We kissed in that darkness under the spell of dark ale, or under the excuse of it. He tasted of unfiltered cigarettes, and I liked that, it reminded me of home. Yes, I had kissed a few Americans, and nonsmoking immigrants, who before the kiss, regularly chewed mints, so their mouths were cool, slightly antiseptic. Well, the three-four times I had kissed they went to the bathroom to floss their teeth, no doubt, and to brush them, so you’d get a re-furbished mouth. But this was a European kiss, old style, with a nicotine bite to it, and an undertone of hot peppers—he must have had feferonki  somewhere. The kiss was hotly reminiscent of the old continent, so I closed my eyes, and floated into the smoky spaces with Turkish coffee poured from dzezva, coppery vessels, and heavy dregs on the bottom, from which old peasant women read fortune. Upon drinking a cup, you’d have a few coffee grains left in your mouth, to chew on, to chase around your mouth with your tongue, and that is what the kiss now felt, like a grainy chase. A gritty and biting kiss. I stretched my neck and he kissed it, his five o’clock whiskers scratching me like a rasping paper, raw, but I liked that sensation of hurt.
      We went to my home and continued our erotic pursuits so impatiently that we had not fully undressed. I still had my skirt on, and he had his shirt and tie, though everything else was off. I pulled him to me by his red tie, and the tightening grip of his collar, plus the labor of lust, made his face all red, and blue veins popped on his forehead and kept changing their courses, like overflowing tributaries of a river, seeking the most urgent way to the sea.
      I wondered why this man trusted me and let me pull the tie. I felt a sudden impulse to strangle him, inexplicable, but tempting. Instead, I let go of the tie, and loosened it. He panted with his mouth open, baring his teeth, and again he kissed my neck, and bit it, perhaps playfully, but still that shot a wave of fright through my blood. I bit his ear. We kept biting each other, as though we were two wolves, steadying each other in the playful grip of teeth. Our lust affected our bones, and came from our bones, and flesh was in the way. The bones of our love made us both sharp, not dreamy and sleepy as I used to be in lovemaking, not floating in the delicacy of sensations, but aggressively alert. It was as though we wanted to destroy each other—and that did result in a sensation, the kind you have when your life is in question, jumping off a cliff into a deep azure bay, skiing downhill and hitting a bump which suspends you in the air.
      There was an extraordinary undercurrent of hatred in our sex, and it shocked me. I was shuddering, at first I thought in the premonition of an orgasm, but no, from the cold fright. He let go of my neck, and his tie tickled my stomach and breasts as he rocked back and forth. I was nearly strangling him again, holding on to his tie, like a friar to the church bell, while he was smashing his pubic bone into mine in the rhythm of a church bell, and I did indeed hear the ringing in my ears. If the bones were to break, I wasn’t sure it would be mine that would give first. Love and lust aren’t synonyms, as everybody knows, and hate and lust aren’t antonyms, as I found out. Love is usually safe, someone there who can help you, who can spread his arms to keep you from falling, and in that sense, it’s antithetical to that sensation of total collapse and abandon that the most intense orgasms are made of.  Hatred, however, helps along that delicious sensation of destruction and self-destruction. That is what I realized as I was coming in this sea, not of joy, but terror. I would not have thought like that if we had not been making love and hate in our sex, and if hate had not prevailed.
      I slid my hands under his shirt, and touched his stomach. His stomach twitched like a horse’s flank when bitten by a horsefly. His skin was smooth and soft. That surprised me because his neck’s hairs stuck out above the collar of his shirt. When my hands roamed further, he gripped them and put them back. That tickles, he said.
      So? Tickling is good. You can tickle me, if you like.
      I touched him again, and he twitched, and lost his erection. That was just as well; we had survived several hours of passion, and both of us sighed perhaps with relief, perhaps with the contemplation of the unsettling nature of our collision.
      Even after he was gone, I sat in amazement at what had transpired and the animosity which hung in the air mustily as a war of different body vapors, his sweat and my sweat, his garlicky, mine olivey, his sugary, mine salty.
      After he was gone, I wondered why he had kept his shirt on, and that is how I went to sleep. I woke up, certain I had had an enlightening dream, like that biochemist who had a vision of a snake eating its own tail, which was the solution for the circular structure of benzene or whatever it was and is for ever, of course. Now, in my dream, Dragan appeared in a black T-shirt. I asked him, why don’t you take it off?
      I can’t.
      I will make love to you only if you take it off.
      I’d rather not.
      So I undressed and teased him, and when he took off his T-shirt, I saw a brown scar on his left side, under the ribs, in the spleen area. The scar paled, then blushed, and became angry red. Drops of blood slid out of it and went down his flank. Give me back my shirt, he said, right away! I had thrown it behind the bed. I don’t know where it is, I said.
      Find it! He said. Blood now gushed.
      By the time I took mercy on him, though I thought I had no reason to do it, and wanted to hand him his shirt, he fell on the floor, in an oily red puddle. Blood kept coming out of him, and furniture floated, and my bed turned into a sinking boat. I shrieked, and woke up with the echo of it, from the attic and the basement, the whole house was empty with the aftermath of my shriek.
      I went to the bathroom. The floor was dry. I brushed my teeth. My gums weren’t bleeding. I looked into my eyes. They weren’t bloodshot.
      I had believed in my dreams, but I also doubted them—I had had all sorts of dreams, in some I had lost all my teeth and when I woke up they were still fast in my jaws.
We were supposed to meet again the following evening after my work. I dreaded it. I would not answer the door. I would turn all the lights off and pretend I was not there.
      When eight o’clock approached, I grew terrified that the man would not come, that he would know I had figured him out.

Suddenly three police cars screeched to the house, their lights flashing. Ha, I thought, they must have the evidence. Once they got him out in handcuffs, I would run out and tell them what I had to add. I put my Nikes on and tightened them, remembering that Nike comes from Greek for Victoria, female winner. Soon the cops escorted the familiar bald silhouette, which wore green. It was the poor pretend-doctor. The nephew showed up on the doorstep and smoked a cigarette. Of course, it was possible that he yawned because he’d had too much sex. Still, why wouldn’t he at least talk to the cops, why wouldn’t he be upset? Maybe he liked it this way, maybe he’d even turned his uncle in, to have more space to himself. Now he wouldn’t need to buy a house. But what did I know what had happened there? I went back to the kitchen and prepared some cappuccino, letting it hiss and spit like an angry cat, although it would be hard to imagine a cat being that angry with milk.
      Soon the doorbell rang. I let Dragan in. This time he was not formal; he wore a black T-shirt, just like in my dream. He brought in red carnations and a bottle of Eagle Peak Merlot. I turned on the music, Mahler’s Fifth. Some of the funeral cords in Mahler’s music give me chills, so this was masochistic of me, in all the redness and blackness to have these jarring notes in minor keys.
      You like that music? he asked.
      Love it.
      Why not play some real folk music?
      Later. This is good for a slow start.
      We have been anything but slow and we are way past a start.
      I’ve never heard a man complaining about getting to bed too quickly.
      I’m not complaining. But then, maybe I could if you let others sleep with you so quickly. How many were there before me?
      Oh, nobody else has been so special to me. (My voice sounded more cynical than I wanted. Yes, indeed, nobody was so special, I had to admit to myself. And, I went on talking.) Poor Uncle of yours. Why did they take him?
      How do you know?
      I am the good kind of neighbor, I look out the window.
      God spare us from watchful neighbors. Seriously though, my uncle is totally insane. He went around the kidney ward, injecting morphine into the patients. He kept repeating, There’s too much pain in the world, too much pain.
      He’s right about that. That’s kind of charming.
      It would be if the drugs weren’t an additional stress on the kidneys. If he’d done it in the orthopedic ward, maybe nobody would have complained, but what he did was dangerous, criminal. I am ashamed of him.
      But he meant well, and probably the patients were in pain, and felt better afterward. Maybe he knows better about it all than we and the cops do. I think it’s touching.
      He chuckled. That gave me the creeps. Or maybe a particularly well-placed dissonance in Mahler gave me a chill, and if it didn’t, it catalyzed it. As though he understood precisely what went on in my spine, he repeated, You sure you like that music?
      He smiled, sitting in a slouchy posture. He didn’t look dangerous, but almost amiable, low-key, not like an alpha dog, but a beta, sitting at a fireplace with his tail curled.
      Above his T-shirt and inside it, he massaged his pectoral muscle, slowly, sensually. It seemed strange to me that a man would caress himself like that—it was surprising and slightly erotic.
      Out of nervousness, I drank half the bottle, and soon we were kissing on my queen-size bed. I grew excited, partly because this had a forbidden quality to it; I had forbidden it to myself, and now I was transgressing. I had of course planned to get to bed, to check out his scar, but I had not wanted to be aroused, and here I was.
      Under the pillow I had a kitchen knife, just in case. I know, that sounds like some preying mantis kind of thing, and if so, maybe the man should have his last wish, without knowing it was his last, to make love. I didn’t mind the idea; in a way, I almost wanted him to become aggressive and dangerous so I could do it. Not that I wanted to do it, but the temptation flashed in my mind.
      As we made out, I slid my hand under his T-shirt, to his navel.
      He pushed my hand away, and said, I’m ticklish.
      Yes, I know you said that, but you don’t mind being touched elsewhere.
      Only my feet and my stomach are ticklish.
      I touched his neck and slid my hands downward, but the T-shirt was too tight from my angle to go further.
      What are you trying to do? he asked. You like collar bones?
      Collar bones are my weakness. Why won’t you take off your shirt?
      Out of vanity. I don’t want you to see how my stomach sags, how my chest hairs are getting gray, and how deep my innie is.
      Now that you have told me all that, what’s there to hide? I know what to expect, it can get only better. Let’s fully undress. Isn’t it funny, we haven’t been naked yet. We have screwed each other daylights, and haven’t seen each other naked.
      All right, but turn off the light then.
      I thought about that. I wanted the light to examine him. But I could examine him anyway, I would let my fingers to it. I turned off the overhead light.
      Good, that will be romantic, I said. I’ll light the candles then.
      I took out half a dozen candles and lit them.
      He pulled off the T-shirt, his red underwear, and his soccer-style socks, which went almost to his knees. For his age, he was in good shape; his stomach didn’t sag. He had lied. I had candle-light coming from all the corners of the room, and bathroom light came through a crack and spread wider and wider on the floor onto the wall, but that was not enough to see his scar. So as he lay down, I put my hand on his flank. He shrank, and his stomach twitched.
       Just let go, I said.
      All right, I guess you know a technique.
      I felt all around, touched his ribs, below them, and I could not believe my fingers. There was no scar. What? Could my dreams have been wrong? It was horrible to think that I had found that man and that he was under my fingertips, but suddenly it was more horrible to think that this was not the man, and the other one was at large, who knew where, if he was not dead. How would I find him? Why should I want to find him? Why didn’t I feel relief? I could’ve been overjoyed to be with a man who made love so vigorously—I could have a boyfriend, maybe even a new family, that wouldn’t have been outlandish at my age, mid-thirties.
      I was in such a state of shock that right away I quit the foreplay. I can’t do it, I said.
      Why not?
      Dark thoughts have crossed my mind and they won’t go away.
      What are your dark thoughts?
      And I told him, in detail, the attempted rape, and how I fled, except I didn’t tell him about the knife and the wound. I said I knocked down the guy with a candelabra.
      That is admirable, that you had so much courage to do that, he said. But why would you think of that right now?
      Why admirable? What choice did I have?
      Do you know what happened to the guy?
       No, and I don’t think I want to know. Do you?
      Why would I? What a question!
      I have no idea.
      Did you think that even before?
      I did not answer. I decided not to worry about anything. (I could worry; yes, I was tempted. It flashed in my mind that if this was not the first man, this could be the second man, the one who went to the basement to drink wine. But then, how did I know that one drank wine? Simply because he grew quiet? Well, this one certainly liked wine. But then, what’s so unusual about that? Oh, no, I decided, I shouldn’t keep having paranoid thoughts. They had to stop somewhere. I was wrong once, I could keep being wrong.) We drank more Eagle Peak; he’d brought two bottles, it turned out, and kept one in his laptop briefcase.
      Let’s shower together, I said. Maybe we’ll make love, maybe not, but let’s shower.
      He obeyed and followed me. I soaped up our bodies, and so in foam, in hot water, we washed, our hairs dripping, our eyes stinging from soap, gasping from exhaustion and lack of air in the steamy cubicle, in the trapped cloud of our own making. He tried to grip me, and I clasped him, but we kept slipping out of each other’s hold; the evasive slipperiness of our bodies made me lose the sense of balance so much that I enjoyed the illusion of exquisitely falling through the clouds.


Author Bio
josip.jpg (3756 bytes)
Jeanette Novakovich

Josip Novakovich  is the author of April Fool's Day (2004) as well as three short-fiction  collections, most recently Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust (2005). He is  the winner of a Whiting Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation. A resident of  central Pennsylvania, he teaches at Penn State.

See also 'Night Guests' by Josip Novakovich in TBR 53 and 'Ideal Goalie' in TBR 54.