You've met the characters in The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure. They're the quirky visionaries and misguided dreamers we all know...and might even be. These characters are absurd, hilarious, and completely believable. From the self-appointed historian of the title piece to the frustrated wage slaves of "Our Spring Catalog" and "The Pipe," these are individualists who don't quite adhere to mainstream ideals. Pendarvis draws his humor from the world of high school ambitions and misunderstood intentions allowed to breathe and take shape. Always original but somehow familiar, these are stories plugged into the collective unconscious of our imaginary lives. Jack Pendarvis's work is difficult to describe but a pleasure to experience, infused with humanity and laugh-out-loud funny. Comedic literary talent of this caliber is rare. ABOUT THE AUTHORJack Pendarvis lives in Bayou La Batre, Alabama. His writing has been published in The Believer, McSweeney's, Spoon River Poetry Review, and 14 Hills. from THE AUTHORThese stories were influenced by Robert Browning, Randy Newman, Charles Ives, Elvis Costello, and Billy Wilder as much as any prose artist. From Elvis Costello, you learn that anger and despair are funny, especially your own! Charles Ives mixes Dixie with Brahms in different keys and tempos at the same time. He's not afraid of being a "bad" composer. In fact, he's said some hilarious and unprintable things about "good" composers. Randy Newman and Robert Browning teach you to let your narrator do half the work and your audience do the other half. In the meantime, you just sit around and do nothing. Writing is great! Billy Wilder saw the romantic melodrama Brief Encounter, a film wherein a man and woman have an affair. There's the offhand suggestion that they're using an acquaintance's apartment as a meeting place. Billy Wilder asked, "Hey, whose apartment was that?" And he imagined some poor jerk coming home and crawling in between those still-warm sheets. That's how he ended up making The Apartment. There's a whole writing course for you. Two lessons from fiction writers: Elmore Leonard reportedly said, "I leave out the parts that people skip." Donald Barthelme noted, "Every writer in the country can write a beautiful sentence, or a hundred." His point was, so what? It's a good point. Now I have revealed everything I know about writing and there is no reason for me to go on writing anymore. My career is over. Thanks, MacAdam/Cage!