The First Two Pages: “Incommunicado” by Bruce Robert Coffin

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

As many readers of short stories have surely recognized, the last few years have delivered a proliferation of anthologies inspired by the crime fiction of this musician or that band—sometimes even with musicians whose music and lyrics might not immediately scream “crime fiction.” (Last year, my wife, Tara Laskowski, and I co-wrote a story for an anthology inspired by the songs of Joni Mitchell, for example.) Among the first these anthologies to gain prominence were two inspired by Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash, whose songs are often like small short stories in themselves, and as Bruce Robert Coffin write in his essay below, Jimmy Buffett’s songs may be “the ultimate flash fiction.”

The new anthology The Great Filling Station Holdup: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Jimmy Buffett, edited by Josh Pachter, features stories by Leigh Lundin, Pachter himself, Rick Ollerman, Michael Bracken, Don Bruns, Alison McMahan, Bruce Robert Coffin, Lissa Marie Redmond, Elaine Viets, Robert J. Randisi, Laura Oles, Isabella Maldonado, Jeffery Hess, Neil Plakcy, John M. Floyd, and M.E. Browning (in order of their stories’ appearance in the Buffett discography).

I’m pleased that Bruce Robert Coffin is joining us today for the start of a series featuring several of these contributors. Bruce’s story is “Incommunicado,” inspired by the song of the same title from Buffett’s 1981 album Coconut Telegraph.

Bruce is a good friend whom I first met at Malice Domestic several years ago, and he entered the short story world with a striking debut: his very first published story, “Fool Proof, ended up being selected for the Best American Mystery Stories series! He’s also the author of the author of the Detective Byron Mysteries, including Beyond the Truth, winner of the Silver Falchion for Best Procedural, and his work has also been nominated for the Agatha and Maine Literary Award. For more about Bruce’s work, visit his website here.

And stay tuned for more essays ahead by contributors to The Great Filling Station Holdup, including Alison McMahan, Laura Oles, and Neil Plakcy.

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.


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4 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Incommunicado” by Bruce Robert Coffin

  1. Pingback: The First Two Pages: “Everybody’s on the Run” by Laura Oles – Art Taylor

  2. Leigh

    I can vouch Incommunicado is a wicked, wicked story, and I use that term advisedly in the New England sense of the word and otherwise. Wiiiikid.

  3. Josh Pachter

    I always enjoy “The First Two Pages,” and it’s particularly interesting to get a glimpse behind the scenes at stories I myself commissioned and edited. Thanks, Bruce and Art! (And of course Bonnie….)

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