John Sheirer is at it again.
A prolific writer of fiction and memoir, John has published a new collection of linked short fiction, “Stumbling Through Adulthood,” which carries the Janice Beetle Books imprint, and is available on Amazon.
John will launch his book at a public event on the front lawn of Forbes Library in Northampton, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, August 10 at 6 p.m., with a rain date of Thursday, August 12; same time.
This is me, inviting you to come on down! John, his wife, Betsy, and I hope to see you there!
I’ve known John for at least a decade. He has taught writing and communications at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield, Connecticut, for 28 years, and I had the pleasure of inviting him to lead a presentation on memoir writing for a client of mine at a retirement community.
John entertained that audience as well as he entertains his readers, and I became one of his fans as I sat and listened to him read from his latest work then and offer counsel to older adults on how to tell their stories.
I blogged about John’s life and work sometime later.
Several months ago, John and I agreed that Janice Beetle Books would publish “Stumbling Through Adulthood,” and I had the privilege of reading an early print galley and offering some minor tweaks and adding my feedback to a work that was already well-edited.
The book is a collection of stand-alone stories with characters who are linked, meaning they reappear like subtle surprises and rekindled connections. The book shines a light on John’s compassionate and often quirky characters and their intimate experiences, all with a backdrop that is clearly modern-day America and its recent, volatile culture.
Readers watch some protagonists grow through various stages of life and gain depth and texture as they age, mature, and adapt. John’s stories offer poignant moments, deft turns of phrase, and insight into the human mind and spirit, and they bring with them realism, failure and triumph in life, work, relationships, ethical conundrums, and politics.
Empathy and passion solidly bind these characters one to another—and to John himself. John is a boldly empathetic person who advocates with his pen through his longtime column in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, and through his position at Asnuntuck.
In many ways, John is an activist in the Pioneer Valley. He is also a dog lover, and the dog he loves best now is little Libby, who has herself been the focus of several books by John.
John lives in Florence, and you can learn more about him on his website at JohnSheirer.com.
At 60, John continues to work full time at the college and, when he’s able, on a variety of writing projects, including more stories and essays, an update to his “Shut Up and Speak!” a guidebook for public speakers, and another photo book featuring Libby. John has described himself as an episodic writer, meaning he gets his stories out in brief but intense periods of writing.
His titles cross genre lines. “Growing Up Mostly Normal in the Middle of Nowhere,” is John’s memoir on growing up in Central Pennsylvania on a farm. “Loop Year,” focuses on John’s experiences in hiking the same trail for an entire year, and he describes the work as an environmental and anthropological study.
In his Gazette column, he writes about politics and framed three books around that theme, including 2020’s “Positively Toward the Negative,” a collection of his recent Gazette columns. The Libby books, for children and adults, include “I Like Sticks!” and “The Alpha Dog Alphabet.”
John’s recent fiction includes “Too Wild: Flash Fiction,” a collection of very short stories; “Uncorrected,” a short suspense novel on a prison escape; and “Fever Cabin,” the fictionalized journal of a man isolating himself during the pandemic.
John’s vision with his writing—and with this new book—is not to become a bestseller. He does hope to sell books, of course, (and you can buy one here), but his larger goal is to create intimate experiences for readers, to connect with people.
Above all, John is a human who enjoys being connected and who has, himself, stumbled through adulthood. “When we were kids,” John notes, “we thought adults always knew what they were doing. But we quickly discovered that our own adulthoods are filled with doubts, mistakes, and regrouping. What I’m hoping to explore in these stories is that we all stumble, but we keep going anyway because that’s the best way to move toward happy, connected, and fulfilling lives.”
Here’s what some early reviewers have had to say about John’s book:
“A clever, witty, and intoxicating collection that will leave readers staggering with delight,” Jacob M. Appel, author of “Einstein’s Beach House.”
“John Sheirer is a master storyteller,” Susanne Davis, author of “The Appointed Hour.”
“John Sheirer creates intense and masterful portraits of his widely varied characters’ deeply personal worlds,” Sherri VandenAkker, writer, director, producer of “My Name Was Bette: The Life and Death of an Alcoholic.”
I wonder how you’ll see “Stumbling Through Adulthood”?
I hope you check it out.