Archive: books/plays/movies

A little help from my friends?

The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature just published my short, short story “Valentine’s Day” online, and they are considering publishing my book-length SS collection, “All Head and No Ass.”  I’m trying to shine them on by driving some additional traffic to their website so they’ll know I’m a big-timer.

 Please honor me by visiting and taking a moment to read my piece.  If you like it, then don’t be bashful about sharing the link with your friends, family, colleagues, comrades, whatever.  I’m assured this is the way Charles Dickens started out, so help if you can!  And happy Valentine’s Day …..

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My Friend Karen Nussbaum

Karen Nussbaum has a remarkable family — three beautiful (and self-supporting) children, a husband who’s only marginally obnoxious, and a father who in his mid-eighties is still one of the most compelling actors in American theater and film.  This week he’s compelling in Imagining Madoff  (yes, that Madoff) at TheatreJ in Washington, and it’s an Actors Equity production you shouldn’t miss. (More)

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9/11: a Cop Novel Begins

/I started work on this many years ago.  It’s now the first chapter in a new novel I’m working on./

                                                                    Best Friends

                                                                by Ray Abernathy

September 11 wasn’t the first time Rafe Holbrook had slept through his alarm clock with no thought to its consequences.  He’d done it all through high school, two tours of duty in Viet Nam with the 1st Calvary and 20 years with the New York Police Department.  But on this morning, neither Callie Bacon nor Tom Hale had called to wake him up.  That’s because Callie was back on Deer Isle where she’d decided to stay on after high school and marry a cranberry farmer and raise kids.  And Tommy, his longtime pal, sidekick, spear carrier, confessor and crutch lay buried under 200 thousand tons of steel at the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. (More)

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August 9, 2011


My short story, The Good Son, has just been published in the Summer Issue of FictionNow, a prestigious new site for readers and writers of good fiction — and it’s all free. I’m quite flattered to be featured there and I hope you’ll click on , read my piece and check out some of the other stories.   And let me know what you think — I crave your feedback.

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July 18, 2011

Abernathy on Broadway

Although I sing and dance arguably  well, it’s nephew Corbin Abernathy who’ll be making his Broadway debut July 28th  in “Truckstop: the Musical,” an Actors Equity Showcase production.  Corbin plays Pluto, an angel assigned to a truckstop in the middle of nowhere.  A cast of seedy characters demand answers for dubious prayers.  Lots of laughs, a few F-bombs, and good, good music. (More)

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January 7, 2011

1961: Race Mixing at UGA

(The following is excerpted from “Pete and Max Take a Walk,” a new novel I finished writing just yesterday.  The main character and the narrative are fictional; the events of 50 years ago this week are not.)

            It had taken an angry wind of history to rip Pete Gammon from his small town roots in Atlanta and drop him goodness-gracious, single-suitcase and all on the steps of Harvard Law School.

            Nursing his fourth draft Budweiser and nibbling absentmindedly on a second pickled egg, Pete looked up from the econ textbook he was reading on the bar counter as John Barnett, the ancient anchorman on the local TV news, began nervously breaking the biggest story ever to hit the University of Georgia.

            “A federal district court judge today issued an order clearing the way for two nigras to register for classes at the university on Monday morning.  Hamilton Holmes, a pre-med student now at Morehouse College, an all-nigra college in Atlanta, and Charlayne Hunter, who is currently enrolled at Wayne State University, a mixed-race college in Detroit, are attempting to become the first coloreds ever to attend the university. Both are graduates of nigra high schools in Atlanta.” (More)

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October 21, 2010

John Reed, Matthew Sharpe, Arnie Casavant

I don’t have a talent for painting like Arnie Casavant, my friend Kathy’s husband.  And I can’t claim that as a writer I’m even in the shadows of John or Matthew.  But I know good stuff when I see it, and it’s there in Arnie’s new show, “Boston’s Fenway, New England’s Charm” opening this weekend in Washington, as well as in John’s recent book, Tales of Woe, and Matt’s fourth novel, (you were wrong). (More)

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May 6, 2010

Slavery by another name

This Pulitzer Prize winner (and the basis for an upcoming PBS documentary) is the most horrifying book I’ve ever read.  Written by Douglas A. Blackmon, a son of the South who’s now the bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal in Atlanta, it destroys the myth that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation put an end to slavery in 1863 and replaces it with the reality of a nightmare that for millions of African American families lasted almost another 100 years.  Don’t try read this book in bed — it’s hard to sleep when you’re manacled to visions of beatings, lynchings, murders and rape, and chained to the biggest lie in our nation’s history. (More)

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April 20, 2010

Good books by Steve Early, Wade Rathke, Amy Dean and Bill Fletcher

I’m chary about reviewing the work of other writers: I never read a book I didn’t like, and I never met a author I didn’t admire (or at least envy). And when ARK MAGAZINE (official publication of the National Organizing Alliance) asked me to review books by four friends , I knew I was about to get neck deep in a small muddy if I dug in with my usual critical shovel.  Alas, I came up dirtless — these are all must-reads, not only because of superb content and good writing, but because they are written by people who were all organizers at some point in their lives.  I urge you to buy them, lest the authors be forced to give up their inside-jobs- with-no-heavy-lifting and return to their halcyon days of cheap motels and Don Martel wine. (More)

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November 30, 2009

Studs: December 7th

 When Studs Terkel copped out on us on Halloween a year ago at age 96, he took from us a hard-left passion for social justice, a bawdy sense of humor and a raspy voice for the working class we’ll never replace.  But he left behind an amazing body of work we’ll be digging into for inspiration and entertainment for decades to come.  On Monday, December 7th at Georgetown University, Theodore Bikel, David Strathairn, Kathleen Chalfant and a cast of well-known actors from New York, Chicago and Washington, DC, will remind us of Studs’ genius with a concert-style reading (that means singing and story-telling and  Terkel-type jokes)  of Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Reflections on Death, Rebirth and Hunger for a Faith, an adaptation of his book of interviews on death and dying which he published in 2001. 

Studs Terkel’s Wikipedia page says he was an author, historian, radio personality and an actor.  They left out blacklisted television star, outrageous curmudgeon, relentless raconteur, open-heart surgery survivor, lawyer, union organizer, sports nut, Obamaphile and generally obnoxious professional Chicagoan.  The son of penniless Russian immigrants, he got his start in broadcasting in the 1930s with the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Writer’s project.  His radio program, The Studs Terkel Program, ran for forty-five years on WFMT in Chicago. His 18 books, most of them oral histories taken from interviews he conducted, documented the ravages of the Great Depression, the horror of World War II, and the often savage world confronted by workers and their families.  Somehow, he always siphoned off a mug of hope from the cesspool of capitalism he confronted every day with anger and wit.  For Will the Circle be Unbroken, he followed his lifelong pattern of interviewing regular folks — parents, medics, patients, teachers and clergy — as well as biggies like Kurt Vonnegut, Uta Hagen, Doc Watson and himself. 

 Will the Circle Be Unbroken was adapted, with Stud’s help, by Derek Goldman, the Artistic Director of the Performing Arts Center at Georgetown, which is producing the concert reading in collaboration with Arena Stage. Goldman and Joseph Megel directing.

 For more information, a full cast lineup, and ticket purchases, visit

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