Most of my writing is what I call anthropological fiction in that I'm exploring through the storytelling imagination our still primitive, mythic natures. In a way fiction allows me to do "fieldwork" in imaginary, intuited cultures without the academic abstractions of scholarship.
By education I am a cultural anthropologist (Ph.D., University of Virginia) with an interest in myth, ritual and narrative; I am a long-time student of literature and was privileged to learn from James Dickey, Robert Penn Warren, Larry Heinemann and short story master MaryEllen Beveridge among fiction teachers, and mentors like Roy Wagner, Fred Damon, David Sapir, Chris Crocker, Ed Erickson and Ed Winter in cultural anthropology with a focus on the art of storytelling as fundamental tool in human communication and survival.
I am currently happily retired and over the past decade have completed and published to date 18 varied works of fiction ranging from American regional mystery/thrillers, romances, with several novels about Texas, novellas for middle grade children and mature teens and young adults, literary experimental fiction, screenplays, two volumes of contemporary poetry & short stories, including adult erotica. I am a big fan of this self-publishing re-invention through the web and celebrate it as a powerful recovery of the 18th century's self-publishing beginnings with printers and authorial self-promotion, a venerable and honorable literary tradition. I am currently finishing my 19th work, an experimental existentialist humorous novel in the tradition of William Burroughs and Samuel Beckett, with a playful borrowing from the picaresque "on the road" tradition of Kerouac and the Beat/Hippie eras in the U.S. I hope to finish a few more books before any Act 3 Final Big Exit into another freethinking scribe realm. Celebrate in the living moment.
Books by Jim Stallings
Slippery People: Poems from NoWhere is a prose poetic journey through the complex world of "persons" interacting with other "persons." Slippery People are "actors" as we know them thru time itself. They may try to tell the truth but no one seems to grasp the truth and hold on to it for long. Emerson liked to say "God is a sphere of intelligibility whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere." Enjoy the pilgrimage to and from NoWhere.
The cosmic shuffling of Heaven & Hell karma decks produces a contemporary card mix of everyday life ranging from mundane “daily disappointments” to the surreal, existential, and absurd Madhouse Mirror delusions of an unfolding global Purgatory. The 97 prose poems highlight a darkly comic zigzag pilgrimage yet alive with odd humor and Quixotesque mixed reviews on the 21st century's global dependence on rowdy ignorance, greed and aggression.
Two sisters live in a small town (Warden, GA) and work in a diner about 1934 during the Great Depression. They both seek to be married and find happiness in their marital futures. Despite uncertainty about such a big decision, the day surprises one of the sisters with an offer unexpected. The time has come for a decision and the Great Aunt helps the process unfolds the road ahead for both sisters' paths.
These are the secret letters of Comrade Chang. Who he was is not certain...no one quite remembers him...maybe he was imaginary. However he was apparently a spy, a military-industrial spy of some kind in Boston. These are his letters addressed to a number of persons. Due to their sensitive nature, they were never mailed. The book may represent a strange kind of cryptography; the chattiness of the letters may mask a truly complex cover code.
This is a two-part tale of a troubled writer chatting with his therapist in a number of dated sessions. The talks range widely but focus on the storyteller's search for peace of mind and happiness. Finally the therapy session concludes with the storyteller's gift of a story in progress that explores his core issues in a fictional narrative that takes us into the psychic mind of a child seer.
A naïve college freshman travels to his college by bus in September. On this day long journey the freshman gets to know a crop duster pilot who tells him his rough and tumble life story and teaches him his approach to a life well lived. The freshman freely participates in the teachings and by the evening of this travel day to college achieves a new confidence and excitement in his approach to his personal growth.
By some mysterious change the oldest son of a Midwestern large farm family finds himself turned into a Scarecrow hanging in a corn field overlooking a lonely highway; being philosophical by nature we follow this existential journey through several mutations until a final outcome evolves that solves a magical search for a missing family through mysterious revival and reunion in another realm.
This tale reveals the comic imaginative voice of a young southern boy's recall of his favorite stories in his earliest years growing up in an extended three generation family in a small town in Deep South Georgia after World War 2 and the Korean War of the early Fifties.
In South Texas in the early 1980s, a young Latino trickster teen nicknamed the "coyote" confined to a residential home for children of broken or missing families in Texas romances a young Anglo college woman working as lifeguard for the summer. Troubles ensue with his smaller siblings and alcoholic mother and Coyote can take it no longer and plans his escape and rendezvous with his pretty Anglo dream girl.
In 1971 an ailing old uncle with a troubled past is in hospice in a state hospital for the indigent and a remnant of his family makes a Sunday drive and stop at a church service in St. Petersburg, FL, before visiting Uncle Rufus to show concern and leave him with a present of one of his favorite pleasures in life, chewing tobacco, called "chaw" in the farm country of his youth in the Deep South.
In the New Millennium past patterns tend to repeat in so-called modern times. A professor of literature encounters a woman efficiency space consultant who wants to refine his sloppy office habits to improve his creative writing production. A war breaks out between these two strong-minded persons leading to a curious resolution that involves the lingering shadows of Gothic literature and dark doings of E.A. Poe's strange imagination.
Sixteen popular flash fiction tales are selected for this fiction collection from an earlier storybook for adults called "Difficult People" that holds 172 brief flash stories with erotic viewpoints and a variety of troubled social behavior. Read on Any Device with the Free Kindle App, making these short fictions available for reading on smart phones, tablets, or computer for those brief reading opportunities. Readable in 30 minutes or less.
George Atlas is a patient in a mental health hospital. George believes he has super powers capable of freeing him. George has a serious crush on a young beautiful intern who has befriended him. When George learns she is leaving his hospital to attend college, he decides to take action and follow her to college and enroll to be near her.
This is a short comedic play about the Dick and Jane of early readers from the long ago late 40s and early 50s when Baby Boomers first learned to read; the play fantasizes about the final two Boomers left alive in this large post WWII generation of children born from 1946 to 1964, a generation of an America learning to lead the world into an appreciation of democratic capitalism and a life of affluent consumerism, free speech and happiness.
Mourners is the first of a series of short stories and short novellas that explore the enigmatic in human relationships. This story looks into the unpredictable romance of falling in love and where that can lead in a life shadowed with depression, boredom and inevitable death yet relieved with the peculiar singularity and spontaneity of love's redemptive powers.
Puddlestone is a creative writing MFA student searching for possible metaphysical links between contemporary findings in cosmology and particle physics and ancient Hindu Upanishad writings on the philosophy of emptiness and the origins of the universe. He hopes to compose his own American Upanishad poem from his pilgrimage in search of the keys to a cosmic casino.
These 51 diary entry spontaneous poems were composed one a day from December 5 through January 24 inspired by the center of gravity of the solstice when days start to lengthen again and give a very early hint that yes, the light is coming back again. The poems range over personal issues of couples, observations about snow and cold and the uncertain events in a long snowy winter in and around Boston with winter solstice as mythic anchor.
Anthropologist Jim Stallings returned to San Antonio in South Texas with fond memories after a mid-life generation in Boston and environs to retire to read and write fiction and poetry in life's Act 3. Keeping a daily calendar yearbook of spontaneous haiku poems for the first year of fieldwork, he selected 84 haiku to highlight his favorite "dispatches" for old and new friends.
In Tales for Commuters & Other Time Travelers all readers are metaphysical commuters through time and experience; and in the new millennium's overbooked modernity these blues, zen-like stories, ranging in reading time from one minute impromptus to quarter-hour stories, offer wide-ranging reflective pleasure, both whimsical and serious, during the kaleidoscopic betwixts and betweens of our daily lives.
A romance of the New Age set in Texas, a screenwriter and an artist discover through their past life regressions that their past and future destinies are beginning to meld. Through this lucid dreaming journey together Isaac and Yvonne discover their soulmate destinies are mysteriously and redemptively intertwined.
My stories, especially these short-short stories, are unplanned. They are "seen" spontaneously in the blank screen of the inner eye. These impromptus depend on a minimalist core of actions and reactions to find closure. That puts them in the more traditional category of tales, folk tales, fairy tales, legends, myths or fables and erotica.
Growing up in an Air Force family with a father who was a decorated fighter pilot in World War II I watched my father's career enter the Cold War with Russia in the late 50s and early 60s. My father became a SAC (bomber) refueler pilot to keep our bombers in the air 24 hours a day ready at any time to strike Russia with nuclear bombs. It was a strange time for young teens and this comic treatment is the result of my adaptation.
A talented jazz pianist, Colin Doubleday, receives an invitation for a Caribbean cruise from Deirdre Weathers, one of the world's legendary femme fatale Hollywood stars. Deirdre wants Colin to spend a weekend, on her research ship the Ponce de Leon and collaborate on a song. Colin thinks he may have made a big leap in his musical career, and hopes to finish a song "A Necessary Woman," an ironic reference to her lust for a long creative life.
The mythic magic takes place in December during the Christmas-solstice season. The “Kings” are three earnest-but-shady nightclub partners from the Mexican border town Piedras Negras (Black Rocks); they track their trapeze midget couple northward following their bizarre disappearance into the heavens during a midnight high wire show; in hot pursuit this brings the three nightclub “kings” to San Antonio, the major setting for the narrative.
An 11 year old boy cousin Peter from a troubled family (marital problems) in New York City takes a breather by spending the summer in the hamlet of Marktree, Massachusetts, with his 11 year old girl cousin Sissy and her family. Before Peter knows it he's drawn into Sissy's "top of the wall" restaurant...a wall for feeding birds and other wild animals bordering the nearby wetlands.
Born into a circuit preacher’s farming family outside the South Georgia town of Warden, Confederate Infantryman JT Bishop’s memoir reconstructs his life through a chronicle of third and first person narratives, interwoven with key characters’ letters, diary entries, sermons, telegrams, newspaper stories and dreams.
The European academic gadfly Doctor Wolfgang Falstaff settled in New England and the Boston area in the late 1980s for a period of treatment and study at the Transcendental Institute (better known as "The Farm") located in Marktree, Massachusetts. What follows is a Rabelaisian, coarsely humorous commentary on a troubled modern life much like an earlier theatrical doppelgänger.
Seltzer Lake is an original screenplay about two hippie couples reuniting to work with troubled kids and their families over a summer and built around the structure of couples in pairs finding a balance in their former troubled lives. What we gradually learn is there is a dance, a kind of liberal social waltz, of twos and fours desperately seeking a tolerance for the stresses and strains on parents and young people in modern life.
Meet Vic Salem, self-help author, and Shelby Cotton, professional escort woman, as they desperately fight to save their lives in a tightrope walk of life and death trauma. In their dramatic effort to escape and seek revenge on distant Vegas enemies, the descent into this Heavenly beauty and Hellish torture forces them to open up to each other and to the extraordinary primitive natures embedded in their deepest survival instincts.
Jelly Lovejoy, a weary young police detective in Warden, Georgia, takes off a mental health day at the demand of his chief. Jelly decides to wander about his hometown and county talking with lover, friend and foe, listening for clues, current and legendary, about the mysteries that confront him and his destiny.
The unusual key to this New England hamlet's mystery is a spirit circle of psychics operating through the local Unitarian parish; like their 19th century spiritualist ancestors they attempt to solve the mystery of the bog couple's fates through psychic channeling with deceased spirits together with the surprises of earthly archival research.
The improvisational novel began on about Memorial Day 2010 and ends on Labor Day weekend 2010. Mostly writers come to Witt's Inn to work on new books. They claim the island “drifts” under heavy fogs. The Inn's ownership is unknown. Rumors abound. At Witts Inn, a twitter novel composed of hundreds of small, quantum texts of 149 characters, explores the offbeat island retreat's agendas of today's ambitious professional writers. Welcome aboard!
The author is adding books right now. They will appear here soon.