The Smartest Brother

My short story, “The Smartest Brother,” just went up Sunday at The Cleveland Review.

It’s about two guys that grew up together and ended up working together at the same plant and voting on the same contract that closes the only place they’ve worked in their adult lives. They’re on opposite ends of the vote, they find out after it’s over, and things get tense.

And it does happen. The story comes from covering union votes in Greenville. One in particular, there was a threat — pass the deal so we can sell you, they said, or we’ll close the place down.

And even when votes aren’t that dramatic, there’s always some heaviness. Not a lot of smiles. Always at least a little drinking. Because these days these votes are a gamble. Used to be you pushed for more pay and better benefits, figuring worst case scenario your union reps get negotiated down. Now, it’s pushing for a little more pay and hoping not to foot all your health insurance. And hoping, too, ownership doesn’t decide they can’t afford it.

Those thoughts aside, it’s been a good experience working with The Cleveland Review. I’ve only had a handful or so things published so far, but this was the first time a journal had notes for me. Wells Addington, especially, specifically. He suggested I take another look at the ending, among some other ideas, all of which made the story you are reading stronger than the one you’re not.

There are good people in Cleveland, it appears. I was encouraged when I found them, some place looking for Rust Belt writing. Just glad to see there’s more of us.

P.S. Read this. Great piece on The Cleveland Review.

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