‘This Kind of Man’ is Available Today!

Sean Murphy
4 min readMay 7, 2024

“This Kind of Man,” my first collection of short fiction, is officially live TODAY.

Yes, the process of publishing a book is kind of like a marathon, if the training includes countless hours tinkering, revising, despairing, feeling the rare pangs of insight and accomplishment, and mostly worrying less about what ultimately happens with the book because the writing itself is the point of all this effort and occasional anxiety. (In other words, it’s nothing at all like a road race, except you’re tired at the end and hopefully feel, crossing the finish line, that all that time spent preparing was productive.) It’s also (mostly) fun and fulfilling — or else why bother? I invite you to the launch: get a copy, buy one for a pal, write a review, share the news and please accept this metaphorical cigar from a proud papa on his baby’s birthday.

One of the stories in this collection was first drafted in an undergraduate writing workshop (shout out to Steve Goodwin); another is loosely based on an actual trip to West Virginia, in 1997, to attend a girlfriend’s ten-year high school reunion; another came out of too much experience in hospital waiting rooms while my beautiful mother battled cancer in the early 00’s, one was inspired by a devastating article about CTE in high school football; and several stories were written in the extended hangover of 2016, when the sociopolitical dial of American discourse seems always dialed to HATE. This collection, in other words, represents an extended period of time and development in my own life, and reflects many things I’ve seen or heard or learned (and/or imagined) along the way. It’s a meditation on angry, sad, lonely men and the damage they sometimes do (to others, to themselves)

Special acknowledgment to my own beloved father, without whom none of this could have happened, on literal and figurative levels. Though he’s very much from the old school, in mostly all the best ways, he deserves so much credit for imprinting positive behavior patterns in his impressionable son. He cared much more about good sportsmanship than whether I scored a goal or won the game; this brilliant man of science worried less about what grades I brought home than whether I was giving my best effort; this kid from blue collar Boston roots has an instinctive compassion for the underdog and imbued in his creative kid an indefatigable sense of justice and fairness. Put simply, there are a lot of less than admirable fathers featured in my collection; let the record be unequivocally clear that a book like this could never have been written if it sprang from actual experience.

This collection seeks to pose a rhetorical question: how much of the anger and miscommunication that prevails in America is the result of an outdated and dysfunctional notion of masculinity? How does not being taught to communicate openly or honestly, or show vulnerability, or cultivate empathy result in an inevitable feeling of alienation, loneliness, and despair? The stories are an extended meditation on the toxicities that fester in a late-stage capitalist society, where aggression, competition, and selfishness breed violence and abuse. We see that our received notions of manhood and masculinity are inculcated — from the beginning and by design — to ensure willing participation in a system where the overwhelming majority are excluded from the start. We witness the way these dysfunctions are handed down like inheritance, and how every cliché, from fighting to drinking to intolerance of dissent and distrust of others, is a carefully constructed trap, preventing solidarity, empathy, and love (for others, for one’s self).

William Carlos wrote “It is difficult to get the news from poems/yet men die miserably every day for lack of what’s found there.” That’s always worth remembering. All of my writing seeks to locate those stories that help us better understand lives different than our own, voices we may not otherwise hear, narratives that equip us to unite around shared urgencies, feelings that promote dialogue and connection.

Thanks to everyone who reads the poems, stories, and updates I occasionally share in this digital space. Writing is — and has to be — its own reward, but if one can’t share the words and feel enriched in the process, it’s not only lonely, but incomplete work. Word of mouth is still the unimprovable way to spread awareness and enthusiasm, so anything you can do to help me connect with more readers is greatly appreciated!

Much more info about me and This Kind of Man here.

Links to purchase paperback and Kindle versions here.

--

--

Sean Murphy

Executive Director, 1455, @1455LitArts. Avoiding quiet desperation by any means necessary http://seanmurphy.net