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Passages from the Title Story, "My Long-Playing Records"
"I put a load of sheets in one washer and towels in another. 'Got any quarters?' I asked, but they looked down and kept talking. I ran to the center stairwell and leaned against the steps long enough to stanch the tears, to gain control. Several minutes later, after digging the right coins out of my jeans, I returned to the laundry as Wade and the bearded guy were leaving. I stood in the doorway and watched them saunter arm in arm down the hall. As I started the machines, a shudder went through my body, making the roots of my hair scream, my skin feel as if it were afire. I ran up to the apartment. Standing over the toilet, I was determined not to blubber. I had nothing to compare it to, this brand of jealousy. It had no validity, no legitimacy" (163).
" When I opened up, Wade sailed in, presenting me with an album he’d found in a used record shop.
'What’s the occasion?' I said. I removed the record from its sleeve and held it to the light. It was in what the experts called Mint Condition. How, as a youth, I’d wished, like a genie, to slither into the side of a record like this one. How my flatness would have slid against the grain of the padded turntable, how the arm would have risen from its cradle, fallen slowly, its stylus springing along the grooves of my black vinyl—sending vibrations through a needle, up the arm, through the amp, along black wires, where music from speakers would have wafted across the room like smoke in a jazz bar.
'Chet Baker, no one like him,' Wade said. 'He’s a trumpeter, but I think his vocals are sexier. His phrasing, his intonation are perfect. If he’s a bit flat in places, it’s on purpose, he knows what he’s doing. I almost cream my pants.'" (168-9).
What Others Are Saying about My Long-Playing Records:
"Jespers has skillfully created a literary album of sorts, full of melodies that pop and hiss with real life. And because a variety of relationships—gay, straight, and paternal—are represented, Jespers is able to dig underneath the muddy web of identity to reveal the shared roots of all relationships; namely, vulnerability and trust." Foreword Clarion Review
"If I could describe Richard Jespers’ debut short story collection My Long-Playing Records in one word, it would be robust. Here is a succession of wholly independent tales, each one drawing the reader deeply into a completely fresh narrative." Marian Szczepanski, Author of Playing St. Barbara
"Richard Jespers knows just how to capture a zeitgeist moment in telling detail, without sentimentality. Listen to these stories as you would your favorite classic vinyl: taken as a whole or as separate tracks, they’ll reward your attention on multiple levels, again and again." Barbara Brannon, Co-author of The Paragraph Ranch and A Wedding at the Paragraph Ranch.
Raised in Wichita, Kansas, Richard Jespers has been writing fiction for over thirty years. He graduated from Southwestern College with a bachelor of music and then earned an MA in English from Texas Tech University. He went on to teach elementary and secondary English in the Lubbock, Texas, public schools. A Pushcart nominee for his short story “My Long-Playing Records,” which originally appeared in Boulevard, he has also been recognized by the Tennessee Writers Alliance as well as the Ledge fiction competition. His works have appeared in Storyglossia, Mochila Review, Oyez Review, Eclectica Magazine, Gihon River Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Blackbird (more than once), Chaffin Journal, and Cooweescoowee.
He currently lives in Lubbock, Texas, with his long-time companion, Ken Dixon. Richard draws writing inspiration from Tennessee Williams, who once stated: “Any work that has any honesty and a sufficient degree of craftsmanship or power eventually finds an outlet.”