My Year as a Clown

·         Title: My Year As a Clown
Genre: Popular Fiction
Author: Robert Steven Williams
Publisher: Against the Grain Press (December 26, 2012)
Pages: 312
Language: English
Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
With My Year as a Clown, Williams introduces us to Chuck Morgan, a new kind of male hero—imperfect and uncertain—fumbling his way forward in the aftermath of the abrupt collapse his 20-year marriage.
Initially, Chuck worries he’ll never have a relationship again, that he could stand in the lobby of a brothel with a hundred dollar bill plastered to his forehead and still not get lucky. But as his emotionally raw, 365-day odyssey unfolds, Chuck gradually relearns to live on his own, navigating the minefield of issues faced by the suddenly single—new routines, awkward dates, and even more awkward sex.
Edited by Joy Johannessen (Alice Sebold, Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom), My Year As a Clown will attract fans of the new breed of novelists that includes Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper and Tom Perrotta. Like others in that distinguished group, Robert Steven Williams delivers a painfully honest glimpses into the modern male psyche while writing about both sexes with equal ease and grace in a way that’s both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.
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Since leaving the music-biz executive ranks, Robert Steven Williams has put in his 10,000 hours. His first novel, My Year as a Clown, released on the indie imprint Against the Grain Press, received the silver medal for popular fiction from the Independent Publisher Book Awards in 2013.

Robert was also a finalist in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and was awarded the Squaw Valley Writers Community Thayer Scholarship. His short fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, The Orange Coast Review, and the anthology Tall Tales and Short Stories Volume II.

He was the executive producer of the critically acclaimed BOOM! Studios CBGB Comic series. He wrote story seven in Book 3. In August of 2011, the series was nominated for a Harvey Award for Best Anthology.

He’s attended Bread Loaf, Sewanee and the Squaw Valley Writers’ Conferences. He’d worked closely with the esteemed fiction writer, Barry Hannah.

Robert’s work has also appeared in Poets & Writers Magazine, Billboard, USA Today and LetterPress, a newsletter for writers. He is co-author of the best-selling business book, The World’s Largest Market.

Robert Steven Williams is also a musician and songwriter. In 2005 he released the critically acclaimed CD “I Am Not My Job,” featuring Rachel Z (Peter Gabriel, Wayne Shorter) and Sloan Wainwright. He studied songwriting with Rosanne Cash, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and several top country writers. The song, The Jersey Cowboy, was featured on NPR’s Car Talk. Robert was the subject of the documentary by Jason Byrd Round Peg, Square Hole.

Connect & Socialize with Robert!
Day 1
I dash out the front door, tossing a dozen supermarket roses on the
backseat. I gun the Toyota. Claudia’s flight is due in an hour, and I’m
ninety minutes from the airport. I stop at the exit 12 rest area for a double
espresso, down it like a whiskey shot, and hop back on the highway.
Midday traffic is light, and I push the car to its eighty-five-mph limit,
backing off when the steering wheel shakes like my washing machine
in super-spin mode. I’m excited. I’m nervous. I’m always this way when
I haven’t seen my wife in months.
The espresso jolts my senses. Hyperalert, I scan side and rearview
mirrors. I weave through traffic pretending to be a fighter pilot. The
a/c is busted and the windows are down; humid air swirls. I turn on the
radio to cut the roar. It’s Mike and the Mad Dog debating the opening
day losses of both the Giants and Jets. It makes no difference to me. I’m
a diehard Philly fan. Tonight the Eagles make their debut on Monday
Night Football in the first regular season game at our new stadium, Lincoln
Financial Field.
The George Washington Bridge is clear, as is the turnpike. I zip past
the Meadowlands, and twenty minutes later I’m juking through the International
Arrivals lounge, dodging and feinting like O. J. Simpson in
the old Hertz commercial, back when his claim to fame was as an NFL
rusher. I’ve got to hurry because Claudia’s flight landed forty-five minutes
ago and I don’t want her waiting.
I burst through the line of limo drivers holding signs with passenger
names. I sidestep immigrant families waiting for loved ones. I spin
around janitorial crews. I cover the entire arrivals lounge in record time.
Claudia must not have cleared customs yet.
My wife is returning from another twelve-week archeological dig,
this one in Denmark. The separation is never easy, and her first week
back is always awkward. Like quarterbacks and receivers at an offseason
minicamp, we need time to rediscover our rhythm, but it rarely
takes more than a few days. My brother says most men would kill for a

three-month vacation from their wives, and if it was during football

season he might be right, but at forty-nine and still single, Jimmy’s

hardly an expert.

Friends often ask how I get by without Claudia. Some wonder if I

just shut down. Do they really want to hear that I beat off to Cheerleader

Sex Addicts III? Still, there’s nothing like the real thing. In our early days,

Claudia and I couldn’t keep our hands off each other, but today she’ll

shower, eat, and hit the hay, zonked from the flight. At least tonight I’ve

got the Eagles game. I’ve been looking forward to it since that devastating

NFC Championship loss back on January 19, which incidentally

was our eighteenth wedding anniversary. Claudia’s still sore that I went

down to Philly for the game, but we were favored. We should have won

and gone on to the Super Bowl. How could I have missed that?

In the arrivals lounge, passengers leak out of customs in a slow

trickle. Clusters of dark-haired Spanish-speaking people come out, followed

by a ragtag collection of Eastern Europeans with suitcases

wrapped with duct tape. In the waiting area, kids run around making

loud obnoxious noises. Families chat as if they’re at a backyard barbecue.

Finally, fair-skinned Nordic types parade down the ramp neatly

dressed in casual wear, even the children looking like they’ve stepped

out of a Nordstrom’s catalog.

I met Claudia backpacking across Europe in 1982. Most guys

brought back photographs and souvenirs, a beer stein or an ashtray. Not

me. I was the luckiest man alive coming home with the British-born,

twenty-year-old Claudia. She wore a tie-dyed dress and Birkenstock

sandals the day we met; now she emerges from customs with a Barbour

jacket draped over the handle of her luggage cart, blue eyes peering

through Gucci frames, her long chestnut hair tied back in a ponytail. I

enjoy seeing her like this from afar, as if noticing her for the first time,

falling in love all over again. After her nine-hour flight, men’s heads still

turn as she passes.

Claudia takes the left ramp, forcing me to bob and weave through

the crowd. “Hey,” I say, touching her lightly on the shoulder. I bend to

kiss her but she twists away.

“Don’t you still have that cold?” she says. “I can’t afford to catch


I know she’s a germ freak, but this is beyond even her obsessive self.

She steps aside and I push the cart, squeezing the handle until my

knuckles turn white.
Derailed in less than ten seconds, a new record.
A lump settles in my gut as if I’ve swallowed a football. Why, when

I try to make things right, do they turn wrong so fast? Do I unconsciously

undermine myself? Just like the Eagles? In last year’s championship

game, they scored a touchdown in fifty-two seconds, but after

that it all went bad. They never scored another, blowing lots of opportunities

with unforced errors. What might my next unforced error with

Claudia be?

She and I silently walk to the car. I toss her suitcase into the back,

feeling like a limo driver.

“Can you turn on the air?” she says, fastening her seat belt. “It’s hot.”

“Still broken.”

She hits the passenger window button hard. She takes a map from

the glove compartment and fans herself. I point to the roses in the backseat

next to my gym bag. “For you.”

She waves a hand in front of her uptight English nose. “How long

have those dirty clothes been in there?”

“A few days.”

We weave through the maze of airport ramps and onto the turnpike.

The traffic north is thick and greasy.

“How was the dig?” I ask. “Were those animal bones you found


Claudia continues to fan her face with that map. “The temperature

was far more pleasant there.”

“Actually it wasn’t a bad summer,” I say. “And I made great progress

with my book, got a solid draft, start to finish.”

We chug past oil refineries, and the stench hits the car like a tidal

wave. “Ugh,” she says as if I’d just farted. She puts the window up and

rolls her eyes.

I inch the Toyota forward and reach for Claudia’s hand, hoping

physical contact will ease the tension. “We’re always a bit on edge when

you come back,” I say. “Was it a rough flight?”

“Actually, it was. I didn’t get much rest because—look, there’s no

easy way to say this. I met someone on the dig. I have a job in Wisconsin.

I’m leaving Thursday.”



Anonymous said…
I want to read this book it sounds great. another new writer on the rise.
Anonymous said…
I want to read this book it sounds great. another new writer on the rise.

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