A Service of UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Fish Head

LK Sukany

High school can be hard enough but what if there was an adolescent boy with the head of a fish?

On this episode, we interview author Johnny Payne about his short story "Fish Head."

With all the tools of irony, satire, and comedy, Payne takes us into the world of teenager Walter, who was born with the head of a fish. His adoptive parents raise him with all the protection, tenderness and support Gen-X parents can muster.

But one day a group of Walter's classmates led by Trey decide to teach him a lesson. Can Walter ever find true acceptance?

Payne writes, "Sporting a fish head had its advantages. An early girlfriend had been attracted because of his blubbery lips and told him he was a great kisser. Another liked the attention she got when he and she went out dancing, how every human head would turn, and somehow, she managed to convince herself that it was her beauty, rather than his goggle eyes, fascinating passersby."

Author Johnny Payne
Author Johnny Payne

Kentucky native, Johnny Payne is the Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles. His novels include "Confessions of a Gentleman Killer" and "The Hard Side of the River." His collection of essays "The Reluctant Assassin," under his nom de plume Étienne D’Abattoir, was published in 2021.

In addition, Payne has published two books of poetry including "Funeral Playlist." Payne also is an active playwright and specializes in the ethnographic study of dance, ritual, and oral tradition in contemporary Peru.

A special thanks to story narrator Rachel McMahen voice actor Tommy Priakos with sound effects and additional help by Becca Story, Kelvyn Korejko, and Tim Korejko.

Music for this episode includes "You Take Everything" and "What's Going Through Your Mind" by Ashtyn Barbaree and "Gray Brick Wall" by Coatcheck. A special thanks to Joseph Fuller of Orchestra of One for the many fish inspired songs featuring singers Michael Fuller, Jessica Fuller, and Phil Houston.

The "Fish Head" rock 'n' roll soundtrack:

"Who I Am" by Michael Fuller
"Just Like Us" by Joseph Fuller
"Right Stuff" by Joseph Fuller
"Blubbery Lips" by Joseph Fuller with Jessica Fuller on vocals.
"Fish Head" by Joseph Fuller
"Come With Us" by Joseph Fuller

Generous funding for Arts & Letters Radio was provided by the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Thank you to Stickyz Rock'n'Roll Chicken Shack for keeping music alive and well in Arkansas.

Connect with us! Twitter: @ArtsLettersKUAR | Facebook: @artsandlettersradio | Instagram: @artsandlettersradio | YouTube: artsandlettersradio | Spotify Playlist: Arts & Letters Radio

Contact Arts & Letters Radio at artsletters@kuar.org or via phone at 501-916-6400.

Our mailing address is: Arts & Letters Radio | KUAR 89.1 | 5820 Asher Avenue, Suite 400 | Little Rock, AR 72204.

Executive Producer and Host: J. Bradley Minnick
Producer & Story Editor: Mary Ellen Kubit
Sound Mix and Mastering: Joseph Fuller, Orchestra of One

This episode is a production of Living The Dream Media, Inc.

Related Content