Even to this day that scene goes on and on and on. The irises are out there growing. The chain reactions that we make in our lives. And every time now, when I pass a salesman in the hall, without fail I have that funny feeling down in the pit of my stomach. I have the feeling that somehow, I can’t explain it, that somebody is going to sentence me to go back to selling seeds again. Somehow it’s still out there, those doors—knock knock—“There’s nobody home I hope I hope I hope I hope.”
By the way, kids, that preceding lecture will be filed under “Real Education,” as opposed to the education you’re actually gonna get.
THUS, WITH A SHEP-LESSON-TO-BE-LEARNED, ENDS “SELLING SEEDS”
NEXT KID STORY FORTHCOMING
BOOKS Intro and Chapter 1 of 1
As a Boy Scout, Second Class, for the reading merit badge I began my list of books read, passed the test and got the badge. I kept up my have-read-list for about sixty years, and found that, over the decades, it averaged roughly three books a month read. Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, James, Hemingway, Faulkner, Mailer, various fiction and non-fiction titles, and lots of books on art and literature. I’ve written several unpublished novels and over 150 poems, of which two were published in a poetry journal.
When I’d already begun my fascination with books as a kid, I didn’t want to be an astronaut or a baseball star, I wanted to be a librarian or win the Nobel Prize in literature. I did neither, but I’m married to a librarian, and between us, spread throughout the house, we have about 7,000 books, some featured in our headboard.
Our King-size Headboard
Although I continue to read, my books-read list numbers fell calamitously. Now I read very little “great literature” (historically acclaimed novels)—I’ve been too busy researching and writing all my stuff about radio humorist Jean Shepherd. Regarding this current obsession, I’ve two published books and several articles in periodicals, and nine separate descriptive folders included in boxed CD sets of his recorded programs for syndication, and posted over 400 illustrated blog essays about him. Shepherd came along, probably, just in the nick of time to satisfy my need to read and write, as well as providing a birthplace to accommodate my ARTSY essays.
BOOKS–WRITING AND READING
In my own defense for not keeping up my pace of reading, I’ve written and designed
the potential covers for three unpublished novels:
The fictional story of a young American man who is convinced that he’s the modern return of Jesus. The fictional chapters alternate with “true” chapters synopsizing chronologically, the entire history of the Earth in what I see as a vast outwardly spiraling evolution. (Outrageous.) Never published.
Inspired by my disastrous marriage to a young woman from Granada, Spain. The fictional chapters alternate with “true” chapters—of my life. A young American fellow, inspired by reading about the Spanish Civil War, joins with Spanish terrorists in Granada to kill the Crown Prince. (Rageous. Dramatic.) Never published.
Inspired by my anthropology-based sojourn in Peru. The fictional chapters alternate with “true” chapters—of my life. A young American exhibit designer bests (is sort of responsible for the deaths of) several American anthropologists, thus gaining the love of a young American woman. (Never published.) Except for no-cost self-publication.
Yes, the fictional protagonist of each of these extravaganzas seems like me. The true/fiction nature of my novels was inspired by the influence of two books that did similar things with truth and fiction: Moby Dick, and John Dos Passos’ U. S. A. Trilogy. And inspired by Carlos Baker’s critical analysis, Hemingway: The Writer as Artist, in which Baker describes how various real-life interests and experiences of Hemingway became the inspiration for aspects of his novels.
A Designed “Poem”
About Designing a Poem
Eventually, all readers and writers have got to try poetry. I read some, I understood little. I read books on what poetry means, how it’s written, and how to write it. I wrote over 150 poems, some not too bad. I got two published in a serious Canadian poetry journal:
Oh, Yes, and Poems Published in
The Magnetic Poetry Book of Poetry
The company that produces the kit with little magnetized words to be made into word-groupings to stick on refrigerators, devised a contest for a book based on poems that only use words from their kits. They published two of mine, one of which has a typo. (Discover below!) Decades later, the book can still be found in book stores, meaning that these two poems of mine have probably been read by more people than any poems by great American poet Robert Frost. (Holy moley!)
A Magnetic Poem
While in my poetry-writing phase, I encountered a poetry-writing contest at a crafts fair.
“In a few minutes, write a poem on the special star-filled paper provided.”
Tribute to Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”
Worthy of my egotism as are the above mighty efforts,
I’m most proud of my multiple published and unpublished works
about that great American humorist,
Jean Parker Shepherd.