Eric Flamm, Donald J. Mackie, Benjamin Lederer (Inkwater Press)

Join us for our monthly reading by authors from Inkwater Press!

Portland Zionists Unite! and Other Stories, by Eric Flamm: These raw, interlocking short stories—set in Israel, Portland, and Thailand—explore the complex reality of modern Israel, its recent history, and what it represents to its citizens and foreign-born Jews. With a range of different narrators—three Israel Defense Force soldiers, a hawkish retiree, a synagogue executive director, and a young video game fan—each story viscerally speaks to the contrasts between Israel’s founding mythology and current political realities. Each narrator’s perspective is different, but collectively the voices engage with a growing concern in US Jewish communal life: how to countenance an Israel that increasingly doesn’t reflect the values of American Jews.

When Push Comes to Shove: A Clown’s Demise, by Donald J. Mackie: A recently elected, narcissistic, vengeful president is determined to “put the hurt” on blue states. To blacken Oregon’s eye, he intends to start clear-cutting her ancient forests again. Standing between him and success are a handful of Oregon State University tree huggers and a geriatric men’s group from the north Oregon coast who brandish AR rifles and a “last man standing” mentality. Last, but not least, Mother Nature weighs in and throws a few punches in defense of her home and allies. What follows is an action-packed, contemporary tale of good versus evil that will inspire and fuel your belief in humanity’s better side.

The Garrington Garden, by Benjamin Lederer: Peter Trenton knows everything about Fort Garrington, Illinois, and he’d like to help his coworker Jeff Hansen learn the tricks of the town. Peter hoped to make a friend in Jeff, and when that falls through, Peter seeks other means to fill the void. Meanwhile, Jeff has to decide just how responsible he is for his ailing coworker.

Eric Flamm was raised in southern Minnesota and studied English literature and Chinese at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. After graduating, he worked as a journalist in Taiwan, and then at a startup technology company in Israel, where he became a citizen. In 1996, he was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces and eventually joined an artillery unit as a reservist. In 2001, he moved to Portland, where he still lives with his wife and two children. Since 2012, Flamm has been active in Israel advocacy, including the promotion of a negotiated settlement to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The first chapter of Portland Zionists Unite! is based on a short story which won honorable mention in the Writecorner Press Short Fiction Awards.

Don Mackie is a retired educator who has lived most of his life in Oregon, and is an outdoor enthusiast. He enjoys hiking, scuba diving, camping, whitewater rafting, hunting, skiing, and fishing in his state’s many stunning environments. He received a degree from Oregon State University in Physical Geography, which furthered his love and appreciation for the terrain surrounding him while he recreates or travels. During his life, he has been dismayed and saddened by the overuse and over-harvest of Oregon’s natural resources. He watched while the lack of planning and foresight repeatedly caused a “boom and bust” business model in his state, particularly in rural Oregon. His future plans include enjoying his family, continuing with his recreational passions, and writing more novels that explore the uses of Oregon’s natural resources.

Benjamin Lederer commonly writes short stories and non-fiction. He began writing fiction while attending the University of Iowa’s Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing. Much of his work centers around loneliness and isolation. He published his award-winning novella, The Garrington Garden, in February 2017. In the novella, Benjamin Lederer explores the complexities of social isolation and the human desire to conform. Today, Benjamin Lederer lives in Vancouver, Washington where he writes for a wealth manager.