For Part One go here; Part Two here; Part Three here.


Chapter 19. Looks Downhill To Me

 For the more we look at the story (the story that is a story, mind), the more we disentangle it from the finer growths that it supports, the less shall we find to admire. It runs like a backbone—or may I say a tapeworm, for its beginning and end are arbitrary.

 —E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel


 I swing by the shop to get some donuts to take to Whit’s, and because I’ve just got to see it—the new parking lot, even more lovely than I’d imagined, a pristine black plain with crisp white stripes and not a speck of trash. It gives me a good feeling; all the cars parked in front of the shop, an even better feeling. I even love the guy standing out front talking on his cell phone, making what-are-you-an-idiot? gestures as he speaks, so he’s even obnoxious to watch. He’ll be all right once he has a donut. It’s today’s newspaper in the machine, and I don’t even mind the headline is about my favorite President. People can read the bad news eating my donuts for a change. Continue reading




For Part One go here, Part Two here.


Chapter 13. Even Steven

The art of writing is rewriting.

—Sean O’Faolain

I open my eyes. We’re stopped. It’s dark. Where the hell are we? We. I look to the driver’s seat, and Nicole’s not there. I jolt awake. Where is she? The ignition’s off, but the motor’s still ticking, cooling, contracting. How long does it do that? I crank my window down. It’s cool out. I check my watch. 3:22 am Monday morning. The big moon sits low in a starry sky. We’re on a country road somewhere, on the narrow shoulder, in front of a darkened white house. A meteor arcs across the sky. My first short story ever was about people living on a meteor. That was the surprise ending. Zap. Just terrible. If that kid time-traveled his ass to the here and now and showed me that story, what would I say? A couple of stupid pages. No characters, no plot, no point. Give it up? I get out of the car and close the door. Who am I kidding? I know what I’d tell him: Revise. Continue reading



For Part One go here.


Chapter 7. The No-Holes Situation

The beginning novelist who has the gift for inhabiting other lives has perhaps the best chance for success.

 —John Gardner, On Becoming a Novelist


I’m an hour and a half late. All the way here I’ve been longing for the comfort of work, both aching feet on the ground, instead of flying through the woods—the last man to speak with Nicole before her explosion experience. I try not to imagine it. I want a dough, a plain of floured canvas, a pin, a cutter. Roll and cut. Order out of chaos. Ouroborus sweet and fried. It’s not like I can talk to anyone about Nicole unless I’m looking for arrest or treatment.

Except Nicole herself. And Whit, Whit who got me into this mess without a word of warning. If she was keeping that big a secret, what was I to make of our newfound friendship and old-fashioned flirtation? What part of that was real? What did I want to be real? But now I’m here, at the shop. Sanctuary. Home. Where I’ve exhausted such questions a long time ago. I’m standing just inside the door, the bell still ringing in my ears, but something’s not right. Continue reading


It’s time to post another novel. Thanks to everyone who read Bad Angels.  This one’s a bit stranger.  It’s a science fiction memoir based on a crossroads in my life being revisited, a personal alternate history.  All of the important bits are true.  It’s also a tongue-in-cheek singularity tale.  As a bonus, it’s chockfull of information about making donuts, something I spent a significant portion of my life doing.  I’ll publish the novel here in four parts for your dining and dancing pleasure.  Thanks for reading.



A Portrait of the Artist

As a Middle-Aged

Donut Cook


Dennis Danvers

As you ramble on through life, brother, whatever be your goal:

Keep your eyes upon the donut, and not upon the hole!

—Murray Banks

[T]he reiteration of vacancy—voids that themselves contain gaps, hollows yielding pockets of emptiness is everywhere in science fiction and fantasy, indeed is peculiar to it. This undermining of something by nothing (which proves susceptible to erosion by deeper nothings) is present throughout the genre.

—Gregory Feeley, “The Hole in a Hole: A Theory of Science Fiction.”


Part One

1. Bob’s Donuts

2. Helpful Criticism

3. Following My Father

4. Finding Nicole

5. There’s Your Trouble

6. On the Road Again


Part Two

7. The No-Holes Situation

8. Poker in the Moonlight

9. Got Anything Hot?

10. Sunday Punch

11. The Wild Blue Yonder

12. The Guy in the Derby Hat


Part Three

13. Even Steven

14. Absolutely Sweet Marie

15. Sunset in Eden

16. What Kind of Fiction?

17. The Bad One’s Redemption

18. Son of Da Vinci’s Smile


Part Four

19. Looks Downhill To Me

20. Adults Only

21. There Is a Small Mailbox Here

22. Whirlwind Romance

23. Thanks for the Dance



Chapter 1. Bob’s Donuts

[G]reat novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. Novelists who are more intelligent than their books should go into another line of work.

        –Milan Kundera, The Art of the Novel


For almost a year now, the city has been laying new sewer pipe in front of the strip mall where my donut shop resides. It’s killing my business. It’s dead when I arrive at dusk, what used to be a busy time for us. Nobody wants to clank across a steel plate over a moat in the failing light just to indulge a sugar buzz. Cowards. Even the pizza joint at the other end only has two cars for their triple cheese special. Last Tuesday’s half price pitcher night had a Suburban full of softballers more off road than planned. I can’t complain. The tow driver bought a couple dozen. Between me and the pizzeria is Antique Paradise, a big, empty hunk of nothing that’s never open. It used to be a liquor store and then carpets. The carpets moved further out in the ‘burbs, following the money. I don’t know where the liquor store went. I’m sure they’re doing okay. They used to bring in a lot of business. You’d be surprised how many people like a few donuts with their alcohol, or maybe you wouldn’t. Indulgences people call them, special treats to make life worth living, as if it weren’t already. Continue reading