Ben Leib

Ben Leib is a pen name. I originally created it in order to preserve a modicum of anonymity when writing autobiographical stories – in other words, as a means to eschew responsibility. But I’ve maintained the pseudonym even since becoming comfortable standing behind what I’ve written. So many people button themselves into rigid identities, but I find the notion of being “A Writer” is too much of a commitment. In that sense, having a pen name has allowed me to shift the burden of identity. Furthermore, the stories published under the name Ben Leib are products of the labor of numerous individuals who’ve helped with editing and inspiration and support, and attributing the work to him prevents me from claiming authorship over something that is not mine alone.

I’ve been inspired by many great California authors: Chandler, Fante Sr. and Jr., Didion, Elroy, and Bukowski each write with a hardness that I find compelling. And often these authors portray a hyper-masculinity that seems embedded in the American literary tradition. I fall prey to that masculinity, but I also attempt to interrogate it in my fiction. I want to have it both ways. I want to live in the fantasy of romantic gender stereotypes while simultaneously revealing them to be the oppressive forces that they are. Occasionally I’m nearly successful in this project. More often, I end up participating in the thing I see as flawed, and that makes me wish I was more talented (and therefore thankful for pen names).

Feel free to check out my write up on the Book Shop Santa Cruz website.  And here’s a winning recommendation from Winning Writers – “The blog of this innovative short fiction writer features links to numerous online journals where his work can be found. Prepare yourself for surreal and self-mocking literary adventures about bad neighbors, vengeful clowns, and errant body parts.”



Sliver of Stone – “La Adivinacion”

Existere – “Fingerprints”

Blacktop Passages – “Always the Lucky One”

Emrys – “Aluxes”

Little Patuxent Review – “The Augury”

On the Premises – “Tenderness”

Marathon Literary Review – “Stout of Heart, Bereft of Mind”

Sein und Werden – “Centrifugal Momentum and the Points to which We’re Affixed”

Bitchin’ Kitsch – “The Embarcadero”

Serving House Journal – “Those Lonely, Lonely Nights”

Johnny America – “My Love Is Going To My Love”

Monongahela Review – “To the Buses and Planes, I Thank You”

Bound Off – “Climbing”

Black and White Magazine, Red Ochre Press – “Je Vais Bien”

Mosaic Art & Literary Magazine – “The Brave Man who Lives in My Gullet Whispers”

Grey Sparrow – “Packing the Wound”

Pisgah – “The Memoirist’s Christmas”

Santa Clara Review – “My House of Cards”

Black Market Review – “The Staging Ground”

Midwest Literary Magazine – “Eliza’s Body as Sacrament of the Grace I Sunk From”

Scissors and Spackle – “The Gifts I Received”

Temenos – “My Portrait In the Memorial”

Corner Club Press – “The Writing Group”

Constellations – “Turn into the Skid”

Spilling Ink Review – “The Last Dignified Transaction”

Retort – “The Drive Home”

Perceptions – “Nineteenth and Valencia”

Milk Sugar – “Vengeance Is a Speechless Clown”

PostPoetry – “My Legacy as Written In the Lives of Kin”

Windmills – “Wake Up Calls”

Down in the Dirt – “Beauty and the Bus”

Children, Churches, and Daddie – “Once, I Found that I Might Be a Good Friend”

Foliate Oak – “Long Rides and the Things We Ran From”

Picayune (and Retort) – “Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young”

Inwood Indiana – “Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young” (same name, different story)

Stone Hobo – “After the Fall”

Digital Americana – “Best of the Terrible Lies”

Pom Pom Pomeranian – “Unreturned Calls”

Scholars and Rogues – “Peripheral Adventures”