Barry Graham is an author, screenwriter, poet, journalist and blogger whose dark and gritty urban novels have received international acclaim. His nonfiction has been published in a diversity of magazines and newspapers, including Harper's, Flaunt, Parabola, Las Vegas Life, The Arizona Republic and Scotland on Sunday. His blog, Illusory Flowers in an Empty Sky, contains reporting and commentary on politics, critical theory, the death penalty, urbanism, sustainability, books, films and Zen practice.
He is also a Zen monk, and serves as the Abbot of The Sitting Frog Zen Center. His book of Zen teachings, Kill Your Self: Life After Ego, was published in 2011. His most recent novel, When It All Comes Down to Dust, was published in January 2012.
He has witnessed two executions in Florence, Arizona, at the invitation of the prisoners. His account of that experience won a FOLIO Silver Medal in the Best Single Article category, and is included in his nonfiction book Why I Watch People Die.
Barry Graham's other books include the novels The Wrong Thing, The Book of Man (chosen by the American Library Association as one of the best books of 1995), How Do You Like Your Blue-Eyed Boy? and Of Darkness and Light, the story collections Scumbo and Before, and a poetry collection, Traffic and Murder. His stories have been published in the anthologies Phoenix Noir, Send My Love and a Molotov Cocktail, Suspect Device and Intoxication. His short screenplay Holding Back the Dawn was produced in 2001.
In 2009, the French magazine Transfuge named Barry Graham one of the great "post-realist" authors. A collection of his fiction and nonfiction, Regarde Les Hommes Mourir, is published in French by Treizième Note Editions.
for Hal Sirowitz
She'd been working there for about three weeks before my visit. I didn't want to go there. I wanted to meet her in a cafe, but she'd lost her driver's license, and the bus took too long to get to the center of town. She'd have had barely any time to eat and talk with me before she had to head back there.
I arrived just after one. I was nervous. I didn't know how to act in a place like that. I think I probably acted so nonchalant that it was obvious that I was agitated.
It was a big, detached house. It looked a bit like an old hotel,…