Monday, April 23, 2018


Hi folks,

My first collection of short stories, Monday's Meal, was released in ebook format today from the good folks at Down and Out Press. It was originally published as a paperback by the University of North Texas Press and was nominated for the Violet Crown Book Award. This is the writing I'm the proudest of. It received rave reviews by such as the NT Times,Texas Monthly, Publisher's Weekly, the School Library Journal,  and by such august literary organizations as Studies in Short Fiction. Some of the brightest literary writers gave it their thumbs-up.

Amazon link

Two of the stories were written when I was 12 and 13. At 12 I wrote, "Hard Times" and a year later, I lay on my couch and wrote "Broken Seashells." Most of the other stories were written before I was 21. Currently, at the behest of my agent, Svetlana Pironko, who urged me to expand "Hard Times" into a novel (which I'm doing) and who told me the story has "haunted her" since she read it and said that if I wrote it well, it could rival NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.

The story, "I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger" which appeared in the South Carolina Review, was later expanded into my novel titled THE GENUINE, IMITATION, PLASTIC KIDNAPPING and also the screenplay of the same title which placed as a Finalist in both the Writer's Guild and the Best of Austin competitions.

And THE MOCKINGBIRD CAFE and another story not in this collection, IN THE ZONE, were both published by the august litmag, High Plains Literary Review, whose editor, Dr. Robert O. Greer, told me several years later that he assumed I was a black writer (Dr. Greer is a black man) and was very surprised to discover I was white. That was quite a complement!

I'm  very proud that these stories represent a myriad of voices, including a black man, a woman, a deranged prison inmate and many other personas. I think if you didn't see a single name on this collection, you'd just assume it was a collection of a number of writers. I really don't see many contemporary writers capable of doing this and that gives me a lot of pride.

I hope that this book will be exposed to an entirely new generation and that they find it compelling.

If you do read it and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. That's the single best thing anyone can do to help out a writer.

Here's what others had to say about MM: 



The sad wives, passive or violent husbands, parolees, alcoholics and other failures in Leslie H. Edgerton's short-story collection are pretty miserable people. And yet misery does have its uses. Raymond Carver elevated the mournful complaints of the disenfranchised in his work, and Edgerton makes an admirable attempt to do the same. He brings to this task an unerring ear for dialogue and a sure-handed sense of place (particularly New Orleans, where many of the stories are set). Edgerton has affection for even his most despicable characters—"boring" Robert, who pours scalding water over his sleeping wife in "The Last Fan"; Jake, the musician responsible for his own daughter's death in "The Jazz Player"; and Tommy in 'I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger," whose plan to get hold of some money involves severing the arm of a rich socialite—but he never takes the reader past the brink of horrible fascination into a deeper understanding. In the best story, "My Idea of a Nice Thing," a woman named Raye tells us why she drinks: "My job. I'm a hairdresser. See, you take on all of these other people's personalities and troubles and things, 10 or 12 of 'em a day, and when the end of the day comes, you don't know who you are anymore. It takes three drinks just to sort yourself out again." Here Edgerton grants both the reader and Raye the grace of irony, and without his authorial intrusion, we find ourselves caring about her predicament.—Denise Gess. The New York Times Book Review, November 16, 1997

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Leslie H. Edgerton's new collection fully meets John Updike's explanation of why we read short stories: "Each is a glimpse into another country: an occasion for surprise, an excuse for wisdom, and an argument for charity." The country of Edgerton's stories, in geographic terms, is New Orleans and the Texas Gulf Coast. In human terms, Edgerton's territory is peopled by nightclub musicians, cafe owners, teenage delinquents, inmates and ex-cons, the poor and uneducated, the heartless and violent, and a snooty former debutante.
Monday's Meal is a busy collection of twenty-one stories. A handful of these include recurring characters, enhancing the sense throughout the book that Edgerton is writing about a community rather than simply a series of individuals. The character with whom we become best acquainted is Evan, a.k.a. Pete: "Now Pete's not my real name, it's my middle name. Peter, actually. But when your first name's Evan, and you hang out where I do, you want to use something else." Evan/Pete hangs out in the seedier precincts of New Orleans. In "I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger" and "Ten Cents a Dance," he gets involved in, respectively, a botched kidnapping and the pursuit of an uninterested prostitute. His ex-wife, the blueblood narrator of "Princess," finds it horrific how he now "hangs out with low-lifes, even street people. God!" Evan/Pete, though, is a street-wise, philosophizing, get-by-as-best-you-can kind of guy who moves through a part of New Orleans never viewed from the tour bus.
Evan/Pete is an amusing character, yet not all of Edgerton's down-and -outers are. "The Jazz Player" portrays an angry young man desperate to release "that intense, throbbing, terrible, last blast of pent-up fury and frustration and guilt and anguish and loss and death." In "The Mockingbird Cafe," one of the strongest stories here for its concision, a black prison escapee endures a white cop's tormenting of him and then sullenly walks away. In "Rubber Band," a kid just released from the reformatory, made cynical and weary of the world, anticipates his own snapping point. While Edgerton can sketch a city hardship scene comparable to Joseph Mitchell's--and several of the stories have the casualness of familiar essays about them--Edgerton establishes the kind of convincing, and wrenching, interiority with his characters achieved by only the most adept fiction writers.
Edgerton does not write exclusively about people living on society's fringe. Sometimes his characters--as in "The Last Fan," about a dullard husband's violent turn, or "Voodoo Love," about a yuppie couple's falling out--are simply headed in that direction. To his credit, Edgerton aims for range in his characters. While suspicion of identity interlopers across ethnic and gender lines is often justified, the smart writer adopts various personae in order to strive for empathy and understanding, rather than appropriation. "My Idea of a Right Thing" exemplifies this purpose in its striking account of a woman's struggle with alcoholism and the (often) predominantly male world of Alcoholics Anonymous. Less dramatic, though no less vivid, "Telemarketing" is the story of a woman dealing with an emotionally distant husband and a pair of needy neighbors as she runs the cafe she owns and longs to have a child.
Even Edgerton's most harrowing stories, such as "Hard Times," about the deadly abandonment of a woman and her children, read effortlessly. The prose throughout is vibrant and precise. At times, the author's sharp ear for colloquial mannerisms tends to turn his speakers into Runyonesque caricatures, as when the high-brow belle in "Princess" exclaims indignantly, "Why, I'd just die!" On the other hand, such dialect adds as much local color as references to the Camellia Cafe or beignets. A case in point: after protesting how he was "bum-rapped on that litigious," the narrator of "Dream Flyer" gripes about the "effrippery" of his jailers for putting him in the same cell with an "orignal-diginal" like the Dream Flyer, who's scheduled to be "exterminated for something he didn't do." In fiction as in life, I suppose, better too much of a good thing than not enough.
Once again, the University of North Texas Press deserves high praise for its commitment to publishing superb contemporary fiction. Leslie H. Edgerton is a writer one should continue to seek out in the literary magazines and on the new-releases shelf.
Studies in Short Fiction, Summer, 1997,  by Peter Donahue, Sam Houston State University
COPYRIGHT 1997 Studies in Short Fiction
COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group


Reading Les Edgerton’s stories is like listening to those old World War II broadcasts from the London blitz, with the reporter crouching under a restaurant table, microphone in hand, while the bombs drop on the city and the ceiling caves in. Edgerton reports on the world and the news is not good. There’s a kind of wacky wisdom in these bulletins from the underside of life; the stories are full of people you hope never move in next door, for whom ordinary life is an impossible dream. This is good fiction; Edgerton writes lean and nasty prose.
                        Dr. Francois Camoin, Director, Graduate School of English, University of Utah and author of Benbow and Paradise, Like Love, But Not Exactly, Deadly Virtues, The End of the World Is Los Angeles and Why Men Are Afraid of Women.

Les Edgerton is much more than a fiction writer or a story teller. When you read his work, your ears prick up, your eyes go wide, and your spine tingles. You get the sense that Edgerton has been there, lived the lives of his characters, fought their fights, cried their tears, placed their bets, drank their Wild Turkey, smoked their cigarettes. He writes with a stunning accuracy, a convincing authority and a stark reality. At the same time, he strikes a balance between beauty, sensitivity and humor. Edgerton isn’t concerned with keeping your interest. He wants to reach into your heart, tear it out, hold it for you while it’s still beating! His New Orleans and South Texas settings are as rough, romantic and quintessentially American as the writer himself. His themes are Ray Carver meets Charles Bukowski. Edgerton is not just another stunning narrative talent, he is an important narrative authority--a master of his or any other generation.
                        Vincent Zandri, Author of As Catch Can, Permanence, and Godchild.

Monday’s Meal is filled to bursting with writing you can taste. Whether dining on bisque and blackened redfish at an upscale cafe, or eating rank mule meat in a pine board cabin, the characters in Edgerton’s world bite down hard and grind up one another with their back teeth. Their authenticity is palpable as soft-shelled clams; these are sad, mean, fully human characters who long for connection almost as fiercely as they fear it. Monday’s Meal is a most satisfyingly vivid and visceral feast.
                        Melody Henion Stevenson, Author of The Life Stone of Singing Bird

Edgerton’s best stories are uncompromising in their casual amorality. They stare you down over the barrel of a gun, rip you up whether or not the trigger gets squeezed.
                        Diane Lefer, Creative writing teacher at UCLA and on the MFA in Writing Faculty at Vermont College. Author of The Circles I Move In and has received fellowships from the NEA as well as five PEN Syndicated Fiction prizes.

From his New Orleans’ setting, Les Edgerton creates a vivid and compelling world. We feel the rhythm of his language and live in the skins of his characters. Altogether, a memorable experience.
                        Gladys Swan, Faculty member, Missouri University and on the MFA in Writing faculty at Vermont College. Author of A Visit To Stranger, Do You Believe in Cabeza de Vaca? and other novels and collections.

Les Edgerton updates Everyman for the turn of this century. Their resumes filled with failed relationships, hapless schemes and desultory crimes, his characters inhabit some of the hardest ground south of the Mason-Dixon, a place where the tragic often turns a corner only to collide with the comic, and where the closest thing to hope is a shrug.
                        Carol Anshaw, Author of Aquamarine  and Seven Moves. A recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, winner of the Carl Sandburg Award and the Society of Midland Authors Award, and a recipient of a NEA Fellowship.

Humor, tragedy, all part of 'Monday's Meal'
By Darragh Doiron
Got a few days to spend in New Orleans? Or some other part of Texas, like Freeport?
            "Monday's Meal" is Leslie H. Edgerton's collection of short stories that take readers to cafes, lonely apartments and to Big Easy dance halls, bars and restaurants.
            The burly, bald man in the Saints jacket pictured on the book's back is a hair dresser. Edgerton also teaches creative writing online for the UCLA Extension Writers Program. Some of his characters are hair dressers, or dog groomers, too.
            It was my pleasure to relax with his character studies. In "Blue Skies" a man think about how his mentally challenged daughter will always take her bite from the middle of her sandwich, not from the corner like adults do.
            "My Idea of a Nice Thing" stops in on an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and "Hard Times" captures the despair of a family starving in their cabin. In "A Shortness of Breath" a old herb woman reveals why all the men in a family seem to die at age 47—they really die when they use up all the breaths they've been allotted.
            There's humor and tragedy in this University of North Texas Press release ($14.95, 817-565-2142). I love how his characters' actions point out the difference between New Orleans natives and tourists. Port Arthur News, August 2, 1998

From Library Journal
This collection of short fiction by the author of The Death of Tarpons (LJ 3/15/96) contains considerable variety of tone, voice, and subject matter, but the majority of the stories fall into two distinct groups. A large number of stories focus on troubled and deeply self-absorbed men who seem surprised to find themselves in failed romantic relationships. These men stoically endure the collapse of relationships they have helped destroy, and Edgerton handles the psychological complexities of both his male and his female protagonists very effectively. A number of other stories focus on marginal Pulp Fiction types who are haunted by personal demons and are drawn to violence. In stories that range in tone from the comic and farcical to the darkly tragic and grim, Edgerton draws memorable portraits of these dangerous and unpredictable characters. Many of the stories in this collection are set in and around New Orleans, and Edgerton describes this milieu well. Recommended. Patrick Sullivan, Manchester Community-Technical Coll., Ct.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.


YA—This collection of 21 unsettling stories will appeal to readers looking for nontraditional contemporary plots with characters living on the fringes of society. These strange tales often revolve around macabre happenings, such as dismemberment, murder, kidnapping, cannibalism, or death. Many are set in the French Quarter of New Orleans with its jazz musicians, numerous bars, night walkers, and even voodoo. Several selections will haunt readers for some time as events often take a morbid twist; others will leave them wondering about the endings. YAs who enjoy reading Stephen King or watching The Twilight Zone will eat up these unique, often gruesome, at times humorous, short stories.Dottie Kraft. School Library Journal, January, 1998

Jane Bouterse's WRITERS AT WORK (KTXK Radio)
The Book: MONDAY'S MEAL Stories by Leslie H. Edgerton
Monday, in the older South, was traditionally washday, and a week's worth of dirty laundry meant a day of hard labor. Large families still had to be fed, so Monday's meals were often "one pot" concoctions with a little bit of everything, including surprise ingredients. But simmered all together Monday's meal was frequently the best meal of the week. Thus Texas born Leslie Edgerton entitled his first collection of short stories MONDAY'S MEAL.
            Edgerton's stories are a concoction, including surprise ingredients. They happen in all kinds of places: New Orleans, Indiana, the small towns of Texas, the streets of the Big Easy, the poverty stricken South. The people who populate the stories include both the predictable and the unusual. For example, not this description of the protagonist in his story "The Bad Part of Town:" "He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town." Other characters include dance hall girls, recovering alcoholics making tough choices, jazz players, Arnold and Amelia Critchen, victims of hard times, a spoiled Princess, or an old man gathering seashells and remembering. The cast is large and varied and demanding because a reader cannot leave them without having shared a bit of his own humanity and discovered a little of that all important inner self.
            ...Edgerton's characters win a few and lose a few.
            '''The Street of Dreams. I guess we've all been there. Historian Bonaro Overstreet in an essay "Little Story, What Now?" explores the possibilities for the survival of the short story, a nineteenth century infant. She decides that, despite its youth, the short story will survive well into the twenty-first century because of its resilience, its ability to distill the experience of its time, whether inside or outside its characters and to give that experience back to readers so they see themselves more clearly. Edgerton achieves that potential in his mixture of stories, a rare concoction; clearly a meal which lives up to its name.—"Writers at Work" is heard on KTXK Stereo 91.5 FM, the Broadcast voice of Texarkana College, Mondays at 6:00 PM; Wednesdays at 12:25 PM, and Fridays at 8:00 AM.


Similar subjects and skills (reference to preceding review of Katherine L. Hester's book, "Eggs for Young America") mark the work of Leslie H. Edgerton, who peoples the tales of Monday's Meal with alcoholics, inmates, and an abandoned family that survives on mule stew. The Freeport native, who lives today in Fort Wayne, Indiana rates extra credit for his hook 'em openings ("He was so mean that wherever he was standing became the bad part of town") and punch finales ("Color my ass gone").—Anne Dingus. Texas Monthly, 22 October, 1997.


There's no question that Leslie Edgerton loves to write... he does it so well! Edgerton deals with people often called 'losers' in a wonderfully poignant way and his affection for his characters gives strength to this collection of stories, one of which has received the Pushcart nomination. Join our support of this fine writer which Arts Indiana Magazine calls "one of Indiana's best writers."—Border's Bookstore Newsletter, September 27, 1997.


Paul Brazill gave 5 of 5 stars to:
Monday's Meal by Leslie Edgerton
Monday's Meal: Stories
by Leslie Edgerton
read in June, 2011


Who makes the best beer in the world? Maybe the Czech or Belgians. Definitely not the Danes. Or the Americans.

But when it comes to short stories, well, the Americans rule the roost, they really do. Flannery O’ Connor, Raymond Carver, Stephen King, Dorothy Parker, Charles Bukowski, Richard Ford, Kyle Minor. Loads and loads more.

And you can add Les Edgerton to that list.

Monday’s Meal by Leslie H Edgerton was published in 1997 and contains twenty-one tales of dirt realism. Sharp slices of American life. They’re set in New Orleans and Texas. Sometimes in bars or behind bars. They’re about café owners, hairdressers, nightclub musicians, prisoners, ex-cons, drifters and drinkers.

Monday’s Meal opens and closes ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Monday’s Meal, tales of strained relationships.’ But the real meat is sandwiched between them. And Monday's Meal is particularly meaty.

Some favourites: ‘The Mockingbird Café’ is the story of a man in a low-rent bar trying to mind his own business; ‘Hard Times’ is bleak and scary and brilliantly written; ‘The Last Fan’ is a tragic look at a shattered marriage; ‘My Idea Of A Nice Thing’ is a touching and sad story of an alcoholic’s crumbling life;’Telemarketing,’ is the story of a young couple just trying to get by; ‘I Shoulda Seen a Credit Arranger,’ is a Runyonesque crime story.

And there’s plenty more to enjoy in Monday’s Meal. Edgerton has a strong and sure grasp of the lives of people who are standing on the edge of a precipice.

And Les Edgerton will soon have a new short story collection published by the hip new kids on the block, Snubnose Press, which can’t be bad!

Paul Brazill, Author,  A Case Of NoirGuns Of Brixton, Too Many Crooks, The Last Laugh, and Kill Me Quick!

Thanks for reading this. Hope you enjoy the read as much as I enjoyed writing these stories!

Blue skies,

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