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Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD–Kid Story Forewords & (11) ARTSY Art Crazy

JEAN SHEPHERD–Kid Story Forewords & (11) ARTSY Art Crazy

Blowing Bubbles.  Yes, as Shep sang various times, “Pretty bubbles in the air.” Publication-wise and publication-foolish, I had two strong indicators of a possible publishing contract for the kid book in December, 2015. Now, six days after April Fools Day, I’m still waiting and I still have positive indicators. Hence:

FOREWORDS MARCH!

All aspects of book publishing contain unexpected travails as well as joys. In the process of seeking august celebrities to write glowing forewords for these kid stories—Hefner and Seinfeld would suffice–I encountered  several short pieces. I cannot vouch for where they came from or for their authenticity. But, desperate as I was and am, I present them here for your edification.

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FOREWORD

by Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens)

1/30/1835-4/21/1910

images

This fool thinks he can write about children and incipient adults. Well, he does better than most who attempt it, but that ain’t saying much. He should reread my Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He claims to be out of the Midwest, but he does not have one damn word of Midwestern accent or terminology in these otherwise well-fashioned narrative delights. My own Midwestern commentaries hurl bittersweet spears at unsuspecting psychic wounds. Shepherd does his work with more subtlety. Go for it, Shep!

(I only submit these comments because Shepherd mentions me by name and refers to my beloved Mississippi River.)

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FOREWORD ADDENDUM

by W. C. Fields (aka William Claude Dukenfield)

1/29/1880-12/25/1946

w c fields

Why anyone would want to spend his valuable time contemplating kids and even going through the shenanigan of writing about them, is beyond me. By the by, children cannot be trained, they must be wrangled. Children should only occasionally be seen and always need to be herded. Which brings to mind that, as an aficionado of the Zen habit of clapping with one hand, I applaud the yarn here titled “Decayed Tooth, Balsa Wood, and Silly Putty,” and the tale subtitled “Ah-eeeek ah-eeeek!”

If I had known Shepherd I could have enhanced his radio skills by teaching him how to perform the juggling of multiple balls and hoops and such in that audio medium. By George, he already did that by juggling with multiple narratives!

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BACKWORD

by Kafka (aka Franz Kafka)

7/3/1883-6/3/1924

11-franz-kafka

I do not normally write or even read stories about children. I did, however, write a story that concerned a man who became a vermin. It was not meant to be funny. But I admit that I rather enjoyed several of the stories herein: the boy who cultivates worms; the steel mill youth who excels at ensnaring rats; the college student who suffers an epiphany while eating snails.

Anyone who can write tales about such matters that make people laugh as well as think is a strange fellow indeed, and worth keeping an eye on.

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I apologize to the three worthies above for having stolen their thoughts and personas. However, needing all the noteworthiness and balderdash I can lay my hands on, I hurl them at you anywho.

They might be followed by an authentic introduction and extraordinary JPS fictions.

eb

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Art Crazy

There are people who tend to consider artists crazy. In general, I consider artists to be the most clear-headed, perceptive, sensitive people in the world. Of course there are exceptions to every rule, and it also depends on how you define artist and how you define crazy.

Hokusai, my favorite Japanese woodblock print artist,Hokusai_wave in his last years, referred to himself as “Old man crazy about art.”

Translations of that line vary, but inevitably contain the word “crazy” or “mad.” My interpretation is that he felt intensely obsessed about making art.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Sometimes I sorta think of myself as crazy about (contemplating) art. I used to know someone (let’s refer to as D.) who was a very good artist and who was very enthusiastic about art (got me to appreciate Cezanne, etc.). Subsequent to my unsuccessful attempts to get my varied novel manuscripts published, I began a manuscript using a form similar to my other attempts: “true” and fictional chapters intertwined and inter-related. Thus, my novel-in-progress about a fine artist and the true-to-life issues that inspired me to deal with the conflict between making art and the artist’s conflicts regarding mental issues and society. It concerned D, who some would refer to as mentally disturbed, as some people incorrectly refer to Van Gogh’s art as issuing from a disturbed mind.

Many people think that Van Gogh was “crazy.” I’d guess that he was very neurotic, and it’s said that he may have had epilepsy. I consider him to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived. Somebody who could paint “Pollard Willows and Setting Sun” ain’t crazy. This painting is hardly ever reproduced. I encountered it for the first time at the Kroller-Muller Museum, where, to see one of the largest and greatest collections of Van Gogh paintings anywhere one drives deep into the woods to Otterlo, Netherlands. I bought a near-full-size reproduction, which I have framed on a wall in my study (aka my Shep Shrine). I believe the original is a bit lighter than shown here:

VanGogh eb favorite

“Pollard Willows at Sunset”

31.5 X 34.5 cm oil on cardboard

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I wanted to express in my “Art Crazy” manuscript how D, despite some intermittent mental issues, was an accomplished, very fine artist. After about 200 hand-written manuscript pages, I put it aside and eventually realized that, even though I felt my idea was worthwhile, I couldn’t find a path to complete it to  my satisfaction, and never would return to it. When we moved last year, with our large amount of literary and artsy stuff, to save my heirs the trouble of tossing the unpublishable manuscript, I beat them to it. As usual, I’d designed some possible book covers. The form of the subtitle was inspired by Norman Mailer’s The Armies of the Night—History as a Novel The Novel as History:

ARTSY artCrazy color

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ARTSY artCrazy colorB&W

What’s up, Doc?

A recent newspaper article describes an exhibit in Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum, “On the Verge of Insanity,” focusing on Vincent’s act of cutting off his ear. Fortunately, according to an Internet article by Jessica Wong, CBC News:

Rather than an artistic genius whose madness fueled his output, Vincent van Gogh was able to create incredible paintings despite his fierce struggle with mental illness — including his infamous slicing off of his own ear — according to a new exhibition in Amsterdam.

On the Verge of Insanity, set to open Friday at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, challenges the romantic (and prevailing) notion that the Dutch master was a “mad genius” who found release by painting.

Despite what appears to be the intelligent emphasis of the exhibit, I’m outraged by the museum’s carrot-and-schtick mentality, which seems aimed at increasing admissions fees by pandering to the philistines.*

*(philistine, according to my Random House Second Edition Unabridged, 1987:

  1. a person who is lacking in or hostile or smugly indifferent to cultural values, intellectual pursuits, esthetic refinement, etc., or is contentedly commonplace in ideas and tastes.)

ARTSY ARROWS0010

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1 Comment

  1. Bud says:

    Bravo! Brilliantly done, Eugene! I believe your blurbs to be superior to whatever these notables would have actually come up with!

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