“Pinkie Toe” is a short story that came from an exploration of the town in which my novel-in-progress is set. I say fictional but it does bear some similarities with the town I grew up in: Washington, Iowa. Iowa is a strange land that holds fast to its claim on John Wayne, though the actor was not yet known by his stage name when he moved with his family to California. There is a swagger, a machismo that abounds, and though certainly we can see this type of “manliness,” if you will, in other states, I’ve always loved how the Midwest is caught between coasts—it’s not Out West and not Back East, but rather stuck somewhere between, unsure of what it wants to be.
Thus, the main character in “Pinkie Toe” represents the male mentality of “take what you want because you can,” all the while at odds with the pervasive culture around him. He wants to be viewed as rugged and stoic yet in his heart is a gentle sort of beast, and I think a lot of conflict exists when you’re trapped between two worlds.