Still Life

Paul Skenazy

When his wife Edie dies, Will Moran abandons all he used to be, and do, to paint still life canvases of rocks and driftwood on the walls of his house.

He’s never painted before, recognizes his paintings are awful, but returns each day to his struggles with light and shadow, color and object, boundary and perspective.

Lost in his new obsession, Will avoids friends, gives away his furniture, and wanders the streets of his small coastal town late into the night. He eavesdrops on neighbors, dips into garbage cans, and fills his home with rocks he collects from local beaches.

Through it all, he clings to his still lifes — each one more failed effort to represent the simplest elements of his world—rocks, wood, and grief. It is only when unwanted but redemptive encounters force Will out of his new habits that he is forced to confront the unassuming person he once was and the man he has become.


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About The Author

Paul Skenazy

Paul Skenazy

Paul Skenazy grew up in Chicago and studied at the University of Chicago and Stanford University. He taught literature and writing for thirty plus years at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His nonfiction works include a book on James M. Cain, a collection of essays on place in San Francisco literature, and a selection of interviews with Maxine Hong Kingston.

Paul has published more than three hundred reviews of fiction and non-fiction for newspapers and magazines nationwide, and was twice nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award for reviewing.

For a dozen years, he was a mystery review columnist for the Washington Post. His short novel, Temper CA (2019), won the 2018 Miami University Press Novella Contest. He revised and edited La Mollie and the King of Tears (1996), a posthumous novel by Arturo Islas. and his autobiographical piece on Chicago and Saul Bellow was a “Notable” essay in The Best American Essays 2015.

Paul’s stories and essays have recently appeared in Catamaran Literary Reader, Chicago Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Santa Cruz, California with his wife, the poet Farnaz Fatemi.