–for Olivia (2013)
After a woman loses her husband, and finds his final masterpiece manuscript of poetry, you wouldn’t think she’d liken him to a blue jay who is “beautiful to look at, awful to listen to.” Then again, you wouldn’t expect many things from this woman. (Short story chapbook).
Published by the Head and the Hand Press, Philadelphia.
Purchase it here.
Into the Everything (2011)
Originally published by Punkin Books in 2011, Into the Everything is Jeffrey S. Markovitz’s (writing as Jeff Mark) debut novel. Set in Philadelphia, the narrative follows Rey Ovitz, whose move to the city becomes a symbol for his transition into adulthood.
Purchase it here: Into the Everything
Only Connect… (2017)
Only Connect… is a short story in direct reflection of the political and ideological enmity facing the United States in the contemporary time. The story revolves around two couples who retreat to a cabin during the inauguration of a president many presume to be antithetical to American democracy and morality. Edward and Morgan (named after the E. M. in E. M. Forster, whose epigraph from Howard’s End donates the title: “Only connect…”) are friends who have brought their partners to the cabin in order to find peace in the fear they have for their children. Even so, the outside world permeates their retreat and they must engage with what their new world means.
The essential thrust of the story is that, in the midst of great antagonism that makes us question our humanity, we may find it again in the humans close to us. Only Connect…, as its title implies, demands that we find connection regardless of distortion. The story is told out of time chronology and in using long, verbose sentences to underscore the discomfort of the circumstances, but the resolution asks us to look toward our companions for anchor despite the rampant anxiety associated with our unprecedented and frightening times.
You can purchase the Saint Katherine Review, in which this story appears, here.
Seeing Bones (2017)
Seeing Bones is a short story that pits the urban against the suburban, marriage against weddings, and parents against children. At a relative’s country club wedding, the narrator runs into his cousin, who he’s not seen in ten years. As they reconnect, it becomes evident that the cousin’s years of hardship—including a stay in rehab and a well-paying dead-end job as an X-Ray technician (thus, “seeing bones”)—come from the pressure he felt from his father to choose easy money over joy in life. Parallel to this narrative is the narrator’s relationship with his own son, as he begins to recognize how he may similarly be expecting too much from the small boy.
The short story is at once about the expectations of society and the expectations of parents, as both attempt to corral the individual into presumed methods of survival. The narrator’s urban pretentiousness and smugness about the overly-formulaic wedding cede to a real appreciation for the bonds of family, ultimately resulting in the story’s thesis: that human connection is in as much the blood as it is in the proximity.
Read it, buy a copy, read an author interview, and here a recording of the author reading the story here.
“Delayed” is a flash piece interested in how contemporary couples, who’ve chosen to forgo young parenthood for independence, find themselves facing issues of infertility when they decide to try for a family at advanced ages.
On a flight, a couple joins the group of passengers waving at a baby, while wondering if they would ever have the opportunity to become parents themselves. The story aims to reflect the very real contemporary issue of electing to “delay” parenthood intellectually while struggling with what that might mean biologically.
Read it here.
Flowers for Tikkun Olam and Permanent for Now (novel excerpt), Above Water (2016)
Flowers for Tikkun Olam is a retelling of a Kabbalist Lurianic creation myth in which God constricts Himself in order to create space for the Universe. He then sends divine light to the world via clay pots, which break when they arrive. Humans, then, spend their lives locating the shards of light and clay in order to collect and regain the divine light lost in the shattering. This story situates the myth in a married couple whose own foundations are rattled by aging and infidelity, only to find reconnection in the collection of what is divine between them.
Above Water is a collection of stories by the 17th Street Writers, a writing collective of English Professors from the Community College of Philadelphia who gathered, workshopped, revised, and vetted these stories over a number of years. The anthology is a culmination of this work.
Purchase it here
Self-Portrait in ellipses, Westminster College (2016)
Self-Portrait is a piece of literary short fiction aimed at criticizing the institutionalized racism of the criminal justice system in the United States. The story follows a young FBI agent on his first case, whose dubious call to Queens, NY to investigate the murder of a young, white girl overrules his desire to investigate the nearby murder of a black boy.
Though the story indeed acts as a social criticism against the blatant double-standard practices of law enforcement, at its heart is the destructive power of human nature and the vanity with which some try to protect it. Correlating the racial injustice of the story with the nuclear attack in Japan in the 1940s suggests the egregious nature of all suffering perpetrated by the powerful on the weak. Unsettling in its nature, Self-Portrait (as its title suggests) ultimately hopes to invoke a pensiveness and consideration for how our actions can be destructive.
Read it here: ellipsis 52
Buy it here: ellipsis 52 print
The Magazine in The Evansville Review (2016)
The Magazine recounts a mother and son’s last trip to the family’s cabin after the termination of the mother’s marriage. Scott, the boy, is transfixed by the men of a hunting magazine while his mother absently sits in the cabin. The story reaches its climax when she, in her dejection, admits to Scott a terrible decision, which, in addition to his fear, thrusts him into a masculine need to protect her and their wounded family.
The story is reflective of divorce’s impact on the family and how parental roles are subject to the same psychological traumas as those of the children. At the heart of the story is a commentary of masculinity, its stereotypical role in the family, and the emptiness it leaves with its absence while a family tries to comprehend its own dissolution.
–Purchase it here: The Evansville Review
Threads (2015) in Glasswords Magazine (Rowan University) Spring 2015 Issue
Threads is a short story about the bonding of a mother and daughter despite a divergence of experience and death. A frame story, it begins with a woman whose mother—a Holocaust survivor—is recently deceased and who wishes to connect to her mother by perusing her enigmatic bookshelves. In so doing, she finds a newspaper article in German about the crashing of a Nazi plane near the place where her mother worked as a prisoner during the war.
Constructed from narratives and literature of the Holocaust (garnered from a graduate seminar in such), Threads wonders how artists of today and tomorrow can continue the discourse of the Holocaust after all of the survivors are gone. Additionally, it looks at human tragedy in the large objective scope in order to find the tender humanity of human, familial bonds deeply at play in the center.
Nominated for the Pushcart Prize, 2015
–Read it here: Glassworks Spring 2015 Issue
–Purchase the issue here: Glassworks Spring 2015 Issue for purchase
Harold and Madeline (2014) in Kindred Magazine Issue 7
Harold and Madeline is a short story made up of disjointed, non-chronological vignettes that, taken as a whole, tell the story of the titular characters: a couple, from their first meeting through their elderly years. The story takes place in rural West Virginia and focuses not on dramatic narrative action, but rather upon the gentle tenderness of human affection as it progresses over years, through traumas, and ultimately, to its end. The brief “chapters” often reflect the author’s memory of his own great-grandparents and are meant to be short invocations of time and space a reader could perhaps read as if they were poems. The overall narrative, conversely, shapes something as grandiose as a simple life lived in the midst of love.
–Check Out Kindred: Kindred Magazine
El Trauma de Claudia (2013) in Apiary Magazine
El Trauma de Claudia is an English-language story set in El Salvador featuring an American soldier on leave from the war in Iraq traveling to La Libertad, El Salvador’s famous surfing beach. William Sterling, the aforementioned solider, arrives in El Salvador to cleanse his mind of the brutality of the war he’s come from through the pacifying waves of the Pacific Ocean.
While there, he encounters Claudia, a young Salvadorian girl who enraptures him with her timid personality and simplicity. As the two develop an attraction, it is revealed that Claudia suffers from the traumatic experience during her youth of witnessing her friend’s father beheaded during the Civil War. This experience has had lasting effects on Claudia, and will ultimately affect her budding relationship with Sterling.
The short story is generally about how traumas in the life of people can direct their courses and manipulate their lives. This is especially so when considering the violence and tragedy of war. Both Sterling and Claudia want to revel in young love, but are constantly hurt from the experiences of war that debase their impressions of humanity, rather than succor it.
Mormon Temple Transcends Tradition on the Parkway, Hidden City Philadelphia, 2 August 2016
–Read it here.
Reactivating The City Branch with A Campus Green, Hidden City Philadelphia, 24 July 2015
–Read it here.
Peru Travelogue, Philadelphia Inquirer, 5 July 2015
“Marginalized Frameworks and Minority Voices: Teaching Literary Theory in Early American Literature Courses” Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice (Winter 2017)
–Download the pdf here.
Abstract: Early American Literature, as a survey course for undergraduate students, is challenging both pedagogically and philosophically. With the proliferation of literary theories in the mid-to-late 20th century that aim to describe the experiences and oppressions of marginalized peoples, Early American Literature’s perceived value is problematized as a stalwart of a hegemonic master narrative. It is difficult to promote the value of analyzing and criticizing the literature to contemporary students when much of it is exclusive: patriarchal, colonial, Euro-centric, and hierarchal. Applying the literary theories of the mid-to-late 20th century to undergraduate survey courses and analyzing minority voices in early American literature reestablishes a working value between the texts and contemporary students, who are invested perhaps more in these issues than what seems to them archaic literature. This is even more viable to community college students, who are apt to identify with marginalized voices and can see the relevance of situating Early American Literature in contemporary frameworks with an effort to promote social, democratic citizenship.