“A public service announcement for anyone who has only known Rob for two minutes or so: Rob is made of contrary atoms. Whatever makes perfect sense to you, he will immediately (and with surprisingly little indication of artifice or irony) assert the opposite. Does he really believe what he says? Probably, because he’s made of contrary atoms. Will it do any good to argue? Probably not, but sometimes you are compelled to do so, because his assertions seem so patently unfounded and indefensible. Has he really thought it through? Hard to say, because he will defend it to the death no matter what. I for one celebrate the contrary atoms of Rob. Who’s with me?”
—James Lee Phillips, friend since 1985
Robert Peate has always loved to write. He wrote his first poem at age eight, for a school literary magazine, and his first story at age eleven for an English class. He wrote primarily for his own amusement for many years, then joined the self-publishing revolution in 2010 with Cagey and 2 Others, a collection of three short stories.
His favorite authors are Dante Alighieri, Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, Aldous Huxley, Suzanne Collins, Ursula K. LeGuin, Harper Lee, Sinclair Lewis, Jack London, Dan Marshall, George Orwell, Charles Portis, Gene Roddenberry, J. K. Rowling, Rod Serling, William Shakespeare, Henrik Stangerup, J. R. R. Tolkien, Edith Wharton, and Yevgeny Zamyatin.
In May of 2018, he compiled the list of his favorite short stories ever:
“The Masque of the Red Death” (1842) by Edgar Allan Poe
“The Purloined Letter” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe
“The New Utopia” (1891) by Jerome K. Jerome
“The Story of an Hour” (1894) by Kate Chopin
“The Monkey’s Paw” (1902) by W. W. Jacobs
“To Build a Fire” (1908) by Jack London
“Goliah” (1909) by Jack London
“The Machine Stops” (1909) by E. M. Forster
“The Jameson Satellite” (1931) by Neil R. Jones
“Who Goes There?” (1938) by John W. Campbell, Jr.
“The Wall” (1939) by Jean-Paul Sartre
“Arena” (1944), by Fredric Brown
“The Lottery” (1948) by Shirley Jackson
“There Will Come Soft Rains” (1950) by Ray Bradbury
“Lamb to the Slaughter” (1953) by Roald Dahl
“The Adjustment Team” (1954), by Philip K. Dick
“Fondly Fahrenheit” (1954) by Alfred Bester
“Brightside Crossing” (1956), by Alan E. Nourse
“Examination Day” (1958), by Henry Slesar
“Billennium” (1962) by J. G. Ballard
“The Village” (1969) by Kate Wilhelm
“The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” (1973) by Ursula K. LeGuin
“The Forbidden Words of Margaret A.” (1990) by L. Timmel Duchamp
“Peter Skilling” (a.k.a., “Retroactive Anti-Terror”) (2004) by Alex Irvine
“Red Card” (2007) by S. L. Gilbow
In 2005 Robert completed his first major work, The Recovery, a play depicting the life of Yeshua of Jerusalem. In 2013 he completed his second major work, Sisyphus Shrugged, a sequel/rebuttal to Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. On GoodReads’ list of fiction exploring American political thought, Sisyphus Shrugged has ranked higher than such classics as Brave New World, 1984, All the King’s Men, The Manchurian Candidate, and Primary Colors. This work earned him an interview on Portland’s KBOO-FM, which you may hear on this website.
Robert and Lisa Loving in the KBOO studio, July 3, 2013, photo by Steven Nassar.
In 2016 he finished his third major work, Money’s Men, his continuation of Sisyphus Shrugged. In 2017 he released his second and third collections of short stories. In 2018 he released his fourth. Now having written fiction, nonfiction, and poetry for over thirty years, Robert lives and writes in West Linn, Oregon, with his wife and their two children. Robert says of his work:
George Orwell said, ‘Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects. It is simply a question of which side one takes and what approach one follows.’ I see myself as following in his tradition of using literature as social commentary on the issues of the day. I have carefully targeted my recent work on problems that I wish to lance like boils, such as Christianity and capitalism.
I provoke thought, because that is what needs provoking. Humanity seems to hate thinking more than any other activity, and yet that is the activity most needed. I do what I can to force thought along, and I am hated and shunned for it. That’s ultimately acceptable to me, because the work needs to be performed; I can perform it; and I wish to perform it. Let others appreciate it or not as they may; it pleases me to do what I do, so I do it.
My philosophy of art used to be, ‘Art should be as beautiful as possible–the World is ugly enough.’ I felt the goal should be to uplift and inspire to make the World a better place. I still feel that goal, but now I think the method can include some of the World’s ugliness, carefully managed, to aid in the inspiration. The artist’s palette includes a range of good and evil, as the World does. Knowledge of the World requires that we study wrong as well as right. Presentation is key.
I love writing, but I don’t have a choice about it. I can’t stop it from happening. I’m told some writers need to eliminate distractions to write, but when my inspiration comes, it distracts me from everything else no matter where I am or what I am doing! This can be quite inconvenient, even dangerous. It’s like a dream that takes over. Sometimes I feel I don’t live in the real world, and those who know me might agree. Of course, we all know what the song says: ‘Life is but a dream.’
I live for stories: reading them, watching them, writing them, and discussing them.
I see more and more of you urging writers and artists to challenge evil. Let me add my voice: use your muse to fight injustice, to provoke and challenge, to motivate your audience to work for better, or at least to bring succor to those who have worked and will work again tomorrow. Make your work important. If you write romance or paint abstract, add some politics. Now is the time to save the World again.
Whether fiction or nonfiction, I write what I feel needs writing. I used to want to be the next Jane Austen, writing charming and subtle social critiques. They are not what needed writing. What I did write is what I felt was needed: direct challenge. The problems are too great to beat around the bush, or perhaps I merely lacked the patience. It is also possible that, to an extent, Jane played it safe. She was certainly capable of understanding, and most certainly did understand, global and national politics. Perhaps it is that she lacked the freedom I enjoyed. Regardless, I have chosen the direct attack, the only succinct method for attacking the biggest problems: clear, direct, concise. Take it or leave it, but I don’t write to read myself write. I write for you. Your reaction determines my success, so for me the process is only half complete until I know whether or not what I did was successful with the reader, the audience.
Lucas, Robin, Robert, Claire, and Flower;
Robin and Robert at the 2016 Oregon Lavender Festival
“Robert’s work is so fundamentally profound that it elicits
a deep re-evaluation of one’s beliefs,
questions that demand responses from one’s inner being.
. . . His work is a deeper study of human nature and capitalism than I have ever read.”
“Your words are needed.”
“Robert Peate is known to employ sarcasm, misdirection, and hyperbole in his writings. It leaves the reader not always knowing his true intentions and then having to consider multiple facets of the sentiment he’s transmitted. It sometimes comes off as brilliant. Certainly not boring. It’s possibly why I avidly read his stuff even when it occasionally pisses me off.”
“Robert’s words have touched my soul.”
“You cause my brain to overheat. And that’s a good thing.”