Hunger Mountain - Vermont College Journal of the arts

List #7 – Luke Reynolds: People, Places, Things




Five Fictions for Truth’s Sake



When I met Harper Lee on the penultimate car of a long steam train, I asked her a question: Do you ever wish you had written another novel? Ms. Lee looked at me, winked, and smiled as if she had a marble in her mouth. Who says I haven’t?


If you say the phrase fire in the eyes, immediately Denzel Washington’s visage rises up before me like steam. When I met Mr. Washington on a land-gobbler heading from Austin to Hartford, he told me—with fire in his eyes—Don’t think you have what it takes; instead, take what you have and think.


Andre Gide, before his death, wrote me a letter. Over the course of eleven pages, Mr. Gide shared a series of thoughts that had occurred to him on a voyage from Paris into the heart of Wittenberg. One thought: Every morning, I ate strawberries—my direct line to momentum in any writing endeavor, strawberries proved that an existential act, like writing, could become an act of great faith and even worship.


On my first meeting with bell hooks, she leveled me with a glance. When I met her seventeen years later, I had to wear an engineer’s cap to shield my eyes from the brightness that poured from her fingertips like ten tiny waterfalls. Dr. hooks spoke, poetry, and I knelt on the vibrating floor to weep.


I am Ryan Gosling. My facial features, tone of voice, abode, and history have all been altered in order to prevent Perez from ever getting to the real me. Some days, I worry that I will spontaneously combust. Other days, I drink a cappuccino and think back to my marble-playing days when my vocation did not stretch itself out along the contours of my heart—like a ripe red strawberry, like a moving train, like a novel.


Luke Reynolds is co-editor of Dedicated to the People of Darfur: Writings on Fear, Risk, and Hope (Rutgers University Press, 2009) and of Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach (Teachers College Press, 2011). His upcoming books include A Call to Creativity: Writing, Reading, and Inspiring Students in an Age of Standardization (Teachers College Press, 2012) and Keep Calm and Query On: Notes on Writing (and Living) with Hope (Divertir Publishing, 2012). His writing for children is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. His website is, and he blogs at


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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Penny Blubaugh March 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm

Oh my god, this is marvelous.


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