The Willie stories

“Art is the stuff that sticks with you, art is the thing that won’t turn you loose.”

Photo by: bilderheld

William F.X. O’Connell (aka Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Willie) is a pen name I adopted a long time ago as a way of making fun of myself. I was writing then in an ornate, grand opera style, and the Willie stories were the exact opposite of that esthetic: Short, tight, gritty – composed all-but-entirely of dialogue, with only the barest, most-essential narrative.

And that joke was on me, because Brother Willie’s style came to be my favorite way of writing fiction. There’s more narrative by now, but still not much. A Willie story is typically the second-act crisis or the third-act resolution of a three-act comedy, a movie-of-the-mind that tells the whole story in that one tiny scene – rarely more than 1,500 words. If you think that sounds easy, give it a try. It ain’t.

But it’s rewarding for me, and I hope for the reader. By cutting the story down to the quick, Uncle Willie gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t.

This is my way of thinking of the Willie stories, gravely intoned in the very deepest of movie-preview voices:

“When nothing happens – everything changes. Forever.”

Here’s a free ebook of the best of the best of the Willie stories, just for indulging this vanity.

But take that offer or leave it, I don’t like art that has to explain itself, so in my view you should just read the stories. Here are a few of my favorites:

Anastasia in the light and shadow.
A canticle for Kathleen Sullivan.
Courtney at the speed of life.
Freeing Jefferson’s slaves.
Xavier’s destiny: Fatherhood and the manly art of manliness.
Cinderella’s memories of the zoo.
A father for Christmas.
How to slay dragons.
Taster’s Choice, for the richest kind of love-making in your marriage.
Famous In Vegas Only: A peek inside the head of a Headliner.
Christmas in Las Vegas with Kim Jong-un.
Willie Humanseed: Cultivating greatness one choo-choo train ride at a time.

You can buy books full of Willie stories at Amazon, and we’ll eat better if you do.

And if you really can’t stand to have fun without homework, here’s me thinking about the philosophical implications of it all.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got a peculiar itch, Willie’s got the scratch. Here are some evergreen and ever-growing categories of Willie stories:

Christmas brutality.
This is Vegas.

This is my deepest conviction on the subject of narrative art, as expressed in a Willie story, of course:

Art is the stuff that sticks with you, art is the thing that won’t turn you loose.

Willie tells stories that stick with me. If they work that way on you, too, so much the better.