Finding Our Way
The eight short stories in Peter Stipe’s first book Finding Our Way investigate the complex connections between people, particularly between the lead characters in the stories and those who are closest to them as their relationships evolve. Even though these eight stories are drawn from Peter’s personal experiences and from those of his friends, they are fiction. Peter writes about the way the stories might have occurred rather than being constrained to tell the stories as they actually happened. Sometimes the stories’ characters change as they struggle to find better connections in their lives; sometimes they don’t.
Two of the stories, Finding Our Way and Running Home, draw on Peter’s extensive experience as a marathon runner. In his prime Peter was one of America’s top distance runners, winning many races, placing in the top fifty in the Boston Marathon on six occasions and competing in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. These two stories are semi-autobiographical , detailing the lifestyle of a competitive distance runner.
Sky City looks at the clash of two cultures; the ancient, traditional culture of Native Americans at Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico and the dawn of the nuclear age with the nuclear test at nearby Alamogordo, New Mexico. Peter’s father was a part of the Manhattan Project that developed the first bomb. Peter read an account of the first test in his father’s papers. Peter also has studied Native culture and art. He was struck by the contrast of these two cultures several years ago when he visited Acoma Pueblo.
Peter’s inspiration for his stories comes from many sources. A woman who worked with him in New Hampshire came to work on a Monday morning in the fall telling the story of her first deer hunting trip. Her tale led to The Deer Slayer. An experience Peter had one night when he worked the third shift at a hospital in New Hampshire inspired Anna. His story Seasons investigates his and his mother’s responses to the death of Peter’s father. A childhood memory of an incident in a small Virginia town in the 1950’s is the foundation for the story Lawrence. A mathematical game in Scientific American magazine led to the bizarre tale Moebius Trip. The sources of inspiration are as varied as the types of stories in Peter’s boo
The Art of Love
Patrick Chamberlain has enrolled as a graduate student at the Rhode Island School of Design, leaving his secluded life on the coast of Maine and his home with an overbearing mother and his academic father. Mary Flynn has come to Providence from New York City to study at Brown University. She comes from a proud family with traditional values and brings with her a strict interpretation of her Catholic faith. It is the first time both of them have lived on their own. They meet and fall in love.
Patrick is guided by his artistic Uncle Win. Mary’s mentor is her old professor, Sister Catherine. Both Patrick and Mary are inspired by the lifestyle of their two artist friends, Aaron, a sculptor and free-spirited Melanie who works with glass. Can Patrick and Mary reconcile the traditional values they have brought with them to Providence with the temptations of the life they seek together? This is their story.
The Art of Love considers different types of love and relationships. At the center is that of Mary and Patrick, built on a natural chemistry, but challenged by their inhibitions and conservative values. In contrast there is the uninhibited relationship between Aaron and Melanie. Perhaps Aaron and Melanie’s relationship is doomed. Other relationships are also in play: Mary’s sister Margie and her boyfriend Javier who are living together, Mary’s tradition-bound parents, Patrick’s uncommunicative parents, Uncle Win and his partner.
This is not a standard classic love story; boy and girl meet, fall in love, move in together, and live happily ever after. Patrick and Mary are both so repressed that they struggle with even the most commonplace aspects of their love. They both want more and neither knows what to do about it. In the end that is what destroys their relationship. As Uncle Win advises, “Sometimes no matter how much love you have, it’s still not enough to overcome whatever issues come up."
Family heirlooms and stories are passed along through the generations and very often become embellished over time. The history of family characters and events becomes fluid, and sometimes stories are deliberately hushed, stories of people and events that families are not proud of, black sheep who must be hidden. Heirlooms are kept but not always preserved.
What then is the truth of a family?
This is the unfolding story of the author’s great-grandparents, Oscar and Maggie McMurray. When Peter Stipe discovers heirlooms and old books that contain clues to the truth about the McMurray’s, his curiosity is piqued. As he researches his family history, the stories his mother told him begin to unravel. Who were Oscar and Maggie? How did their story get lost? Why was it changed? What is the truth about this, or any other family story?
Scroll down to read about The Fairy Garden, Peter's newest book.
The Fairy Garden
The Fairy Garden is a whimsical story about facing our deepest fears and greatest loves, and what we all must do to grow into the life we were meant to experience.
Elizabeth’s secret began when she was five years old, a secret she held close her entire life. As far as she knew, she was the only person who could see the fairies living in her grandfather’s garden. They play with her and show her their world, and as she grows older, they guide her through the important moments of her life. The fairies, and especially Olivia, were her closest friends.
But where were they when everything fell apart? Why didn’t they save her grandfather when he needed help, and why didn’t they warn her about the struggles she had to endure? Surely the fairies, who seemed to have a prescience about the future, knew what Elizabeth would have to tolerate.
After the death of her grandfather, Elizabeth moves into his house to begin the process of healing. But when her daughter begins to see and play with the fairies, Elizabeth has a choice to make. Will she accept her daughter’s new friends or will she find a way to banish them from her life forever?