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Work Samples

15 pages of airy thinness.pdf

The clouds are coming undone. The white sky is domed and hollow. Beyond the black eyes, the atmosphere hangs like a skull casing. Over the subject’s shaved head bolted into the three-pin skull clamp, Walther Wallach runs a smooth dry finger. “Your brain isn't what you think it is,” he says.

PDF icon 15 pages of airy thinness.pdf


About Brian

Baltimore County

Brian Wolak's picture
In my “spare” time I write fiction. For three years (2,500 hours and counting) I’ve been working on a novel, To Airy Thinness, now in the third draft.  In my “day job,” I work as a marketing strategist for an affordable housing and community development nonprofit where I craft stories of real-life people and their triumphs and struggles with housing and homelessness. To get a sense of the work -- and more importantly some of the amazing people I’ve had the privilege of meeting, read how... more

To Airy Thinness

What if someone lost their mind? Literally lost it? And what if someone else found a way to replace it with a better one? How would they go about creating a perfect brain? Well, naturally they’d start by seeking out an authority who'd managed to identify the most important qualities successful people have. But who would have the audacity to name such qualities? Then I found it. An entire universe of authorities hellbent on perfecting the common human. The self-help book. And I located the mother of them all – one that’s overlooked today but in my estimation stands out as the original: Napoleon Hill’s "The Law of Success in Sixteen Lessons." There it was. My solution. A perfect brain would have all the “laws” of success (self confidence, tolerance, leadership etc.) And I thought: what if those qualities had physical form? Actual somatic presence? What if the neural matter had to be stolen from living, breathing people to infuse into the perfect beta brain? That idea turned into the premise of To Airy Thinness.

While the novel’s still in draft form, I've excerpted the first half.

  • To Airy Thinness.jpg

    Our two souls therefore, which are one / Though I must go, endure not yet / A breach, but an expansion, / Like gold to airy thinness beat. -- John Donne, “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”
  • To Airy Thinness.pdf

    He wakes up, opens his eyes. The room — certainly it’s a room — means nothing. He is too immersed in the idea that his sleep (his blackout?) has disgorged. As though he was nonexistent until seconds ago when something, some part of who he was or might become was issued like a bubble from the ocean floor, and only when it approached the surface had it acquired enough light to materialize — because it wasn’t thrown together; its components were arrayed so that he could build himself, piece by piece, to emerge from one state into another with a more than a burst, to spread with an idea as big as the sky.

    PDF icon To Airy Thinness.pdf

Jaguar's Tongue

These are excerpts from Jaguar's Tongue, my first novel, about a movie reviewer who finds a book in which a description of a woman matches a film actress so precisely that finding her becomes an obsession.

The narrator of the "Tell Me the Things" excerpt was my first artistic breakthrough. Inspired by (or derivative of!) Humbert Humbert, Ignatitus Reilly and Miss Lonelyhearts, Sheila O'Neel taught me that I could inhabit an imaginary person's mind.

  • Tell Me the Things I Dont Want to Know.pdf

    One wants to purge one’s dirty little secrets. Heroism, that is not. But to dive into the murk, to spelunk into the sweaty, stinky cave of another person’s soul – if that is not a feat of courage, I do not know what is.

    PDF icon Tell Me the Things I Dont Want to Know.pdf
  • Jaguars Tongue.pdf

    Celestial, corporeal, concupiscent: the source of his dichotomized existence over the past two months, Moxie: and now she was here, summoned by Marie, no less, conjured like a spirit to take earthly form: the woman, the mysterious Moxie, she was practically crawling out of the pulp onto the table: on all fours: there in front of Victor, on his countertop, naked.

    PDF icon Jaguars Tongue.pdf


"Hollow" is the beginning of a story I conceived several years ago but needed to let incubate more. It's to be a young adult story that deals with identity, imagination and ... electricity.

  • Hollow.pdf

    I like to imagine the perfect person as a beam of electricity, a white hot ray of fire perfectly contained in a bolt. A perpetual lightning strike.

    PDF icon Hollow.pdf

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