Exit the Ohio turnpike or the interstate and you encounter the world as seen through the eyes of John Mauk. His Ohio is a land of magical realism, a region of back roads and small towns where residents struggle to get by while imagining bright circumstances and a better life elsewhere.
Notes for the Earthbound evolves through a series of loosely linked short stories that form a fantastic but totally credible tale from the bits and pieces of humanity that live on the fringes of hope. A girl who can fly. A boy who is the son of a witch. An explosive homeless man who was once a Jesuit priest. They are among the memorable characters that take their places at the table that Mauk sets. In this world, feuds run deep and assume a life of their own through time; violence steeps in both summer heat and winter cold; religious doctrine breeds suspicion and exclusion; and, dreams are bubbles that burst in the harsh reality of an America where jobs are scarce, options few and furniture is routinely repossessed for nonpayment.
Mauk is a master of clever subtlety. Although his writing is clear and forceful, his work demands close attention. Blink and you miss a vital link between the generations and the events, both large and small, that chronicle the lives of local residents.
A native of the state, Mauk teaches writing and rhetoric at Miami University of Ohio. His work has been published in a variety of literary journals and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.