Outlier Heart: What do you call a non-fiction essay collection most might consider fiction?

Outlier Heart Sample 07

What do you call a non-fiction essay collection most might consider fiction?

I felt that I had several good titles to choose from among the various essays that make up my new  collection Outlier Heart: Essays From My Life as an Immortalist. These included Significant Other, which I think speaks to the strangeness of being an immortalist today; and In the Name of Not Repeating, which expresses a macro motivation of mine for being an immortalist — yes I want to live, but also, I want to exit the the repetitive cycle that is mortality (if you know how the story ends, how different can it really be? Answer: not that different).

In the end, I landed on Outlier Heart, the title of another essay, originally published in Eclectica, that is meaningful to me for a couple reasons. One, I think the role of heart and feeling is often, strangely, left out of the immortality conversation, and I’ve found it to be central. While science and technology is driving the legitimacy of the conversation today, it  takes a hell of a lot of heart, by scientists, activists, entrepreneurs, and yes, artists, to take this stand, that aging is a disease to be cured, and furthermore that we will, and are, doing it.

This is a heart that I doubt non-immortalists have experienced, because the passion isn’t rooted in any familiar human relationship, but in the unknown of a future without an end. I’d call that an Outlier Heart.

The title is also significant to me because of what I went through to get it. I remember writing the essay and working to name this thing I was trying to name, in myself, that had swept me past the bounds of my religion, my family, my generation, my gender, and I just didn’t know what to call it. I’d come up against such barriers of blankness in the past, and I had run from them, considering it an impossibility to articulate something so real to me but so foreign to most if not all readers.

But this time I didn’t run. This time I stood in the blankness and I stood in it, requiring of myself to find a way through. It marked a pivot point in my writing. No longer would I back off when the subject matter got too personal and the reading audience seemed too distant. I accepted that this, in fact, was the gig, and started to build the writing muscles I needed to traverse that gap.

You can order Outlier Heart here:



Outlier Heart cover: the right way to get a tattoo

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Tattoo procrastination time can pass more quickly than you think. It seems like just a few years ago when I came up with this great idea for a tattoo with a Tree of Life growing out of a heart, and the banner Outlier Heart, which is the title of an essay of mine. I haven’t had the chance to get my arm inked just yet. (When I even bring up the subject of the tattoo to Bernie, she just says “whatever,” but she’ll see …)

But when I started working with Portland-based artist Gigi Little on the cover for my essay collection, Outlier Heart, to be published in a couple weeks by IFERS Press, I knew what I wanted — it was that tattoo idea.

I brought the concept to Gigi and she has been artful and diligent in bringing it into being, at least as a book cover. She also writes detailed emails to make her thought process and my choices very clear to both of us. The original tattoo, in my mind that is, is not exactly the one you see here. Along the way, we made some significant changes in the overall shape of the image, from circular to more vertical, and that banner went away,  but I quite like where we’ve ended up.

It’s much easier to make revisions in the digital than in the fleshly, people. Which I think is a validation of my approach to getting tattooed. 1. Have the idea for the tattoo. 2. Don’t get it. 3. Write and publish several nonfiction essays, many highly personal. 4. Find a publisher for the collection. 5. Create the book cover using your tattoo idea. 6. Then get the tattoo. Makes sense to me.

You can order Outlier Heart here:


Body Archaeology to appear in Louisville Review

Dear Joe Bardin:

Congratulations! Your work has been selected for publication in The Louisville Review. Please email a short biographical paragraph to louisvillereview@spalding.edu as soon as possible. You will receive an email from us with further details once we are in pre-production of the issue. We look forward to seeing your work in our pages!


The Editors of The Louisville Review

2016-06-21 11:07:04 (GMT -4:00)