Thursday, October 2, 2014

Highlight: Island Fog by John Vanderslice


Island Fog is a collection of linked short fictions by veteran storyteller John Vanderslice. The eleven stories of Island Fog are connected by both geography and theme. Every story is set on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, and together they span a period of Nantucket history from 1795 to 2005, with four different centuries represented. Some of the characters the reader meets along the way include an 18th century wigmaker accused of a notorious bank robbery, a 19th century "whaling widow" who has newly awakened to important aspects of her sexual nature, a former whale ship captain who once had to resort to cannibalism to survive an extended period at sea, a 20th century plumber whose wife jumped off the Hyannis to Nantucket ferry with her infant child in her arms, and a 21st century ghost tour leader who is being metaphorically haunted by a former lover. 

Robert Hicks (author of The Widow of the South and A Separate Country) declares that "Island Fog is for anyone who loves good stories, beautifully told, with a good slice of the twisted history of humanity thrown in." David Jauss (author of Glossolalia and Black Maps) notes that Island Fog "brilliantly parses the soul of America . . . It will open your eyes, and your heart." Finally, Garry Craig Powell (author of Stoning the Devil and Other Stories) says that "Vanderslice is a writer of vision and this is a haunting, essential collection."

John Vanderslice

John Vanderslice hails from southern Maryland, specifically the eccentric community of Moyaone, which was developed in the 1950sand 60s by a fearless crew of overeducated, wannabe hippies and anti-social survivalists escaping from Washington DC and its ruthlessly expanding white collar suburbs. After twelve years of Catholic schooling, and too many summers working as a lifeguard, he left the southern Maryland woods to attend the University of Virginia, from which he graduated in 1983. A series of silly jobs, and a flurry of different addresses, in the Washington DC metro area finally led to him entering the MFA in Poetry Writing program at George Mason University in 1986, where he studied under Peter Klappert, William Matthews, and Susan Tichy. He graduated in 1991 and started teaching writing to college freshmen at GMU and Northern Virginia Community College-Annandale. In 1993, he entered the Ph.D program in the English Department at the University of Louisisana-Lafayette, located at the epicenter of the Cajun cultural world. After four years of fine dining, great music, and inspired literary fellowship he moved to Conway, Arkansas, where he began teaching part-time at the University of Central Arkansas while acting as a stay-at-home dad for his infant son. Seventeen years and another son later, he is Associate Professor in the Department of Writing at UCA, teaching fiction writing, poetry writing, and nonfiction writing both to undergraduates and to graduate students in the Arkansas Writers MFA Workshop. He also serves as associate editor of Toad Suck Review magazine. 

His household is comprised of his wife Stephanie, his two sons, four cats, and a weird but lovable little dog named Mario who does not seem to understand that they do not need his protection from old ladies and friendly neighbors. 

More than seventy of his stories, poems, essays, and one-act plays have appeared in literary journals and anthologies. A partial list of these journals includes Seattle Review, Versal, Sou’wester, Laurel Review, Crazyhorse, The Pinch, Southern Humanities Review, 1966, Squalorly, Foliate Oak, Red Wheelbarrow, and Exquisite Corpse. Some of the anthologies are Appalachian Voice, Redacted Story, Chick for a Day, The Best of the First Line: Editors’ Picks 2002-2006, and Tartts: Incisive Fiction from Emerging Writers. 

He also maintains two blogs: Payperazzi (, in which he writes about the writing life and the teaching writing life, and Creating Van Gogh (, in which he muses on matters related to historical fiction. 

You can employ the following links to find some of his works published in online journals.

Flash fiction “Sacrament” in Ilanot Review (Winter 2014): 

Short story “Far” in Whistling Fire (Summer 2013):

Short story “Home Visit” in Gemini Magazine (July 2013):

Historical short story “The Evangelist” in New Delta Review Online 1 (10 Jan. 2011): 

Science fiction short story “No. 117” in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change 22.4 (Winter 2011):

Chapter from comic novel Burnt Norway in Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters and Life (17 Dec. 2009): 

Memoir essay “A Minute Inside the Ocean Cafe, July 1980” in Squalorly. (Summer 2013):

Collage essay on marathon running in 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction 1.2 (Fall 2013):

One-act play My Word in Foliate Oak (Dec. 2013):

John Vanderslice


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