Stories of sincerity

. December 2, 2014.

Toledo author Robert Flanagan has strong ties to the city. He grew up in a one-bedroom apartment above an Irish bar and grill near the corner of Monroe Street and Detroit Avenue. He wrote throughout his life and graduated from Central Catholic High School. After joining the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, Flanagan received his B.A. from the University of Toledo and his M.A. from the University of Chicago.

In his works,Flanagan’s immersion in Toledo's working-class  culture is obvious. Without embellishment, the author’s tone is straightforward,   putting truth before tact. To call him a realist seems inaccurate; he has no agenda except for a concern for sincerity. 

His newest collection of works, Story Hour & Other Stories, presents Flanagan in his authentic, believable and reflective style. Published by Bottom Dog Press earlier this year,  Story Hour catalogues the lives and minds of 11 very different characters through third-person narrative. The thoughts of old men, young men and those in-between are  all represented, with meditations on love, loss and struggle. Although Flanagan does not present an optimistic message, he is not cynical. Rather, Flanagan lays real experiences on the table and invites his readers to take what they wish. 

Despite the difficult lives of  his complicated characters, the author maintains a certain softness throughout, providing moments of both tenderness and violence. Despite difficult situations, all of the characters seem to want to do the right thing, but with limited options.

Flanagan’s characters are self-aware and reflective in a seemingly apologetic way. However, the author is not interested in apologies or morbid fascination, instead he wants the reader to listen, engage, understand and laugh. 

Flanagan has two stage plays, Jupus Redeye and Version 2.0; one essay, Essay: What You Learned in Boxing; a novel, Maggot; another collection of stories, Naked to Naked Goes, and five books of poetry, all available for purchase. 

With a unique voice and well-crafted, thoughtful works, the seasoned writer receives immense praise. After 30 years as Director of Creative Writing as Ohio Wesleyan University, Flanagan is currently retired, writes full time and resides in Delaware, Ohio. 

For more information on Robert Flanagan or to purchase his works, visit