Finding Our Way
The eight short stories in Peter Stipe’s new 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 book.
5 Points of Interest about the Book’s Content or Story:
- What sort of a ghost might inhabit an old nurses’ dormitory on the grounds of a New Hampshire hospital? If that ghost were pregnant, what would become of her baby when it was born? That is the premise of Peter’s story Anna.
- The insular and traditional lifestyle of the Keres Indians at Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico is as far removed from the Nuclear Age as can be imagined. Yet these two cultures have their roots so close together in southern New Mexico. Sky City makes that comparison.
- The United States in the 1960’s was a time of great social strife; the Vietnam War was at the center of much of this. Two idealistic college students fall in love. But their ideal visions of what could be are in conflict. Can they make their relationship work? This is Peter’s story Finding Our Way.
- A newly married woman goes deer hunting with her husband and a friend and finds the courage she needs to make critical choices in her life. How could a moment in the forest give her that assertiveness? The Deer Slayer tells her story.
- Obsession can lead to a self-centered approach to life that can become destructive. Obsession can lead to great achievements, but people need the support of others to become truly happy. A talented and obsessed young runner develops this awareness of his need for others in Running Home.
About the Author
Peter Stipe has enjoyed a long and varied career that has included fourteen years in education as a public high school history teacher and track coach. He also has worked for many years in Human Resource Development and Training for a variety of businesses. Most recently he worked for AAA as Director of Training and Development for the New England region. He has worked with Employment Boards for both the state of Massachusetts and the state of Rhode Island addressing job creation and job skills development on Federal initiatives. He has a Bachelors degree in History from Boston University and a Masters in Education from Tufts. Peter has visited all fifty states and every Canadian province except Newfoundland and Labrador. Native American culture and art is a passion for Peter. His visits to Native sites across North America have enabled him to gather a small collection of Native art. A competitive long distance runner for many years he has completed numerous marathons with six finishes in the top fifty places in the Boston Marathon and participation in the 1972 U.S. Olympic Trials. In addition to his writing, Peter is an accomplished artist and photographer. He has photographs on display in the On The Hill Gallery in Yorktown, Virginia. Peter spent his childhood in Virginia before moving to the Boston area in his teens. A New Englander for most of his life he now lives with his wife and writes in Williamsburg, Virginia. His son, daughter in-law and two grandchildren live in Charlottesville, VA; his daughter lives in Washington, DC.