Cruising the Green of Second Avenue

Wild Child Publishing has issued the second volume of short stories in Cruising the Green of Second Avenue. The tales take up where Vol. I left off — bringing back Klein the Biker, Straight Charlie and Sammy the Madman while introducing new characters stumbling over life’s difficulties in the late 60s. Vol. II is an e-book published by Wild Child Publishing that you can download, save as a pdf (Adobe) file and print. Read both volumes and see that life isn't all that serious. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and other online book sellers.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Hello? Is Anyone There?

The Tribune Corporation is declaring bankruptcy. A Glendale, Calif., paper is outsourcing its news-gathering to India. My granddaughter writes her book review on her iPhone while watching TV. Is this the end of written communication as we once knew it?

The writers I knew—literate, insightful, thought-provoking—are being replaced by bloggers... Readers are downloading e-books instead of buying paper... Borders had only one of the 10 New York Times recommended children’s books I was searching for when I shopped last week... My former employer was the largest independent yellow pages publisher in the U.S., but its stock has dropped from $62 to 33 cents as people shuck the damn books out in the garbage... And Sarah Palin has a $7 million book deal coming to tell us all how to “progress freedom in the U.S.”

Then I ran across a jaw-dropping cultural benchmark in a New Yorker ad. Victory for writers has been snatched from the jaws of defeat by Books by the Foot ( The firm offers modern cloth-bound hardcovers for only $6.99 per linear foot. “Tonier” modern cloth with black spines, however, will run $13.99 per foot. The purveyors of this literary wealth—by the foot, not the words—remind us that Heinrich Heine stated, “A house without books is like a room without windows.” The motto of this “bookyard” then—this Home Depot of illiteracy—must be a God-like “Let us have light!”

How many layouts in Architectural Digest show rooms without books—truly a mark of the plebian mind of a hedge fund manager. The badge of real literacy is to display yards of books when your guests come to swill champagne. Then, when the casual visitor asks if you've read them, you can say, “My interior decorator may have, but I don’t need to. I pay his/her salary.” This is perhaps the same decorator who goes to Barnes & Noble looking for a red match her purse.

On the upside, I found a superb historical analysis of 17th century Virginia, written in 1917, free at Google books! Now I can publish my article on Bacon’s Rebellion. Circle the wagon, Folks. It’ll be hard times when the printed word disappears.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

In Hindsight, a Spectacular Year

Woe is me for being sooooo far behind in communicating. It’s all been bottled up inside. Writer's block is a situation akin to constipation--except, sometimes great works don’t emanate in the end. Just shit.

However, these are the things weighing on my mind….

Two short stories have been accepted, by Big Pulp and Bewildering Stories, and await publication in 2009, and an article on the first shots fired in the Civil War will be reprinted in the Camp Chase Gazette. I also await publication of my article on Holling Clancy Holling in the American Book Collectors of Children’s Literature newsletter; I especially want to send a copy to the dear lady in Michigan who helped in my research… Several other stories need rewrite as I face the devil who sneers at my inability to express myself in the ways I want… My research into Bacon’s Rebellion looked complete until I discovered Thomas Wertenbaker’s Virginia Under the Stuarts written in 1913; this added an entirely new dimension to the rebellion.

Other quotidian chores included holiday shopping and entertaining. I’m in the spirit of Christmas early and lovin’ it. The family letter is written and about 70 cards are in the mail. The presents are all bought and there are a few bottles of wine to split with family and friends.

An additional task has been of my own making. I’ve begun leading a new writing group of a dozen area people. We’re gathering at the Ocean County (N.J.) Library twice monthly for a chance to critique, compare notes and share in a love of writing and reading.

This has been a very good year. The usual blessings—knock-on-wood good health, low stress, excellent wife and family—make it so much better in the face of the tribulations so many people are facing. But the writing has also gone well, with 10 short stories and articles published during the year. Most happily, there are the small joys, like my granddaughter exchanging thoughts on the literate life from her vantage point of a 15-year-old using an iPhone. There is hope for the future.