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Personal narrative | creative nonfiction
writing as memory capture
In Tumbling Up (2022) I focus on the small town where I grew up, coming of age in the seductive mayhem of the 60’s. I was stumbling toward a future I didn’t really want, becoming a person I didn’t really like. Then a door swung open, letting the future in, a future I could not have imagined. The Freeland Years takes the reader to a small Midwestern farm town. One stoplight, five churches, four bars; a time of innocence, unrest, and temptation. In fourteen chapters, I chart the moves–and mistakes–I made. This book is a love song to my youth. It’s the book I always wanted to write. Doesn’t everyone?
In Get Thee to a Bakery (2021) I return to familiar subjects: home, family, food, health, travel, technology, finding humor in the minute details of everyday life. Whose idea was pumpkin pie? How do you get rid of ear worm? Why do Americans smile so much? Is that a velociraptor’s footprint? Are we in the midst of a great bug die-off? In small nibbles, these essays will entertain as you read sitting pool- or beach-side, enjoying your morning coffee, relaxing in bed before drifting off to sleep.
“In The Enjoy Agenda (2019) Rick Bailey recreates for us what Virginia Woolf calls moments of being,” writes Eileen Pollack, author of The Only Woman in the Room, “those bright bursts of beauty, loss, communion, and bewilderment that constitute a life.” In these essays I find humor in a variety of subjects: my half-hearted attempt to lower my blood pressure, the prospect of an iSmell app and the scent of outer space (burnt steak, hot metal, welding fumes), the pros and cons of milk substitutes, going full chopstick in Shanghai, the limits of my spoken Italian.
“The essays in American English, Italian Chocolate (2017) read like the best of short stories: their significance extends beyond what is on the page. Bailey demonstrates a genius for locating a telling detail and employing it sparingly to evoke a setting or character trait, keeping the writing concise and the pace swift.” Publishers Weekly. I travel all night from Michigan to New Jersey to attend the funeral of a college friend dead of AIDS. I stagger in flipflops across the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. In a trattoria above the Adriatic I ruminate on the history and glories of beans.