I was born in New York City in the 1940s, and grew up in two very different environments. One was just a block from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the other was in the Hudson Highlands, across a mountain highway from Black Rock Forest. Whenever I had free time in Manhattan, I roamed the halls of the Met, or the Museum of Natural History on the other side of Central Park. My life thus began by alternating between urban high culture and the rural riches of forests, raccoons, and poison ivy. In August, our family lived completely off the grid on an island in Maine (on the lake known in fiction as Golden Pond). My grandfather purchased this tiny island just before the Great Depression, for $300 and a case of Canadian beer.
Since then, I've lived principally in the New England states, Colorado, California, Nevada, and Iowa, with five years or so mainly in Switzerland, and with sojourns in Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Rio de Janiero, and Asunción Paraguay. These travels have afforded an inescapable sense of the universality of the human condition along with an abiding fascination with what lies beyond everyday experience -- from physics to consciousness, from quantum mechanics to the Vaisheshika Sutras.
I've spent my entire life in the arts, mainly photography, sculpture and installation art, theater, composing and sound design, and of course writing. Writing has always been my strongest suit, including poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and software (yes, programming seems to use the same muscle, although in different ways and to different ends).
My day jobs have included educational institutions, large corporations, and startups, in all of which I enjoyed trying to open minds and think outside the box. One of my greatest joys is learning something new, and then explaining it to someone who needs to know; this has led to consulting in the "translation" of ideas from one area of specialization to another.
I've been writing stories all my life, but only recently have any of them seemed worthy of being inflicted on the public (the first of which is a short, wry didactic novel "The Rules: for playing the game of life"). Some of my poetry is collected in the book "Cave Paintings," but nobody reads poetry anymore, right? More recently, 21 of my short fiction pieces are collected in "Brain Frieze," and a second volume might be completed in 2019. A third is simmering. A fourth awaits rare and obscure ingredients.
For five years I worked closely with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (who introduced Transcendental Meditation to the West), for whom I developed much of the printed material that emanated from his global organization during the early 1970s. Maharishi was a truly extraordinary man -- the most focused and hard-working person I've met, dedicated to the single task of making life more fulfilling for everyone on the planet. Perhaps more amazing is the fact that during all this focus and hard work, usually for 20 hours a day, he never seemed tired, and he never lost his broad vision and sense of humor. Before meeting Maharishi, I really believed I knew how to write, but after five years working 5-10 hours per day, 5-6 days per week, polishing every sentence, section, and publication, I can now say with certainty that he taught me more about writing than all my prior experience.
I live in South-East Iowa now, in an unusual town filled with creative people from all over the country, and somehow I'm still engaged in half a dozen projects in as many unrelated fields. You can visit allen cobb (dot com), or contact me through the Authors Guild.
Twenty-one new short stories from the author of "The Rules" and "Cave Paintings." Allen Cobb's best recent short fiction explores the busy characters of New York City, the mysteries of life and death, voodoo in New Orleans, an aging motorcycle and its boomer owner, an extraordinary Doberman, mysterious sleep disturbances, and a short but sympathetic interview with a zombie. Compelling and literate, the trivial or absurd become unexpectedly fascinating, while complex or abstract ideas (life, death, religion, memory) are handled with ease and clarity. The collection is wonderfully varied, from the extremely short (especially the 11 tiny stories in "Writing in Restaurants") to the grand entanglements of "Mobius Trip" (published here as "16 Degrees of Correlation"). Every story takes the reader someplace new and surprising, yet they all share an underlying insight into mysterious and indescribable realms of the mind.
The Rules: for playing the game of life2013