National Poetry Month

I know that it’s been quiet around here at the EEOTPB website. So quiet that my friend Tulip, who disappeared into the depths of Southern California (somewhere near Toluca Lake) nearly two years ago, finally surfaced. She called me the other night to find out if I was okay. I told her that I was fine, but because of my current professional situation, I had been forced to spend most of my time concentrating on paying writing jobs, and my day job of writing technical books had left me creatively drained.

In the course of our conversation, she reminded me that April is National Poetry Month. She went on to say that if I had any true appreciation for the art form of poetry, I would not let the month go by without firing off at least one post into the blogosphere mentioning this fact.

So to recognize the month, I will respond here, to the reader who wrote to me some time ago to ask if I actually ever READ any poetry. I told that reader that I did read quite a bit of poetry and someday, when I got time, I would go into details.

Recently (ok within the last six months), I have read these three books of poems. I recommend them all for anyone with the slightest interest in poetry, writing, or in the assemblage of words in any unique and meaningful order:

  1. Weldon Kees, The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees – Probably the finest poet to come out of Beatrice, Nebraska to date, Weldon Kees is perhaps best known for his dramatic, albeit suspicious exit from life, rather than his fine body of work. Known by some as the “Missing Poet”, Kees committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge on July 18, 1955. Although some believe that Kees staged his own death and fled to a new life in Mexico, his typewriter fell silent after that date. Known as “a bitter poet”, I didn’t read any of his works until fairly recently, and I wish I had discovered him sooner. But bitter…yeah, a little.
  2. Louis Jenkins, Before You Know It: Prose Poems 1970-2005 – I was never a fan of the prose poem, until I read Louis Jenkins. I enjoyed his work so much that I tried writing a few prose poems myself, and although they fall far short of Jenkins’ poems, I have gained a new appreciation for the form. Jenkins is a native Oklahoman, but he lived for decades up in Duluth, Minnesota. Why that’s worth mentioning, I can’t say, but there is something about that neck of the woods that brings out the poet in some people. Bob Dylan is from Duluth, and I have always suspicioned that his talent may have been in someway channeled by the large iron deposits underlying that part of the country – but that is just my theory.
  3. Ernest Hemingway, Complete Poems – A couple of years ago, my wife and I attended a reading of Papa’s poetry at the Blue Heaven Bar on Thomas Street in Key West. It was during Hemingway Days, which occurs each year in July – not the greatest time of year to visit Key West. It is truly a 24 hour sauna in the Keys that time of year, but if you are up for it, head on down, order a cold one at the bar, and sip it slowly as you listen to The Old Man’s best poems read by dedicated members of the Key West Poetry Guild. Up until that time, I had never considered Hemingway a poet, and from what I’ve read that’s the way he liked it. He never really wanted be remembered for his verse. In any case, I picked up a copy of his Collected Works on my way out of town. It sat on my bookshelf untouched for more than two years until I recently picked it up and read it. I shall consider him a poet whether he likes it or not, and as things stand right now, there is little he can do about it.

So that’s what I’ve been reading. I would like to hear what you’ve been reading as well, so feel free to comment here.

I will close my tribute to National Poetry Month with a short, whimsical poem that I wrote several years ago. It’s been collecting virtual dust on my hard drive since 2009, so this seems as good a time as any to let go of it:

 

ON WRITING A POEM

Writing a poem is often like,
pushing a wheelbarrow full of bricks,
up a steep hill, for absolutely
no reason, whatsoever.

Nobody really needs the bricks,
nobody cares if you make it
to the top, or if you spill half
of the load on the way up.

In the end, you’ll be just
another forlorn, but tired
wheelbarrow pusher, you’ll never be
a real bricklayer.

If you were a real bricklayer,
you’d write a novel,
And carry your bricks up…
…one at a time,
and position them very carefully.

But you’re no bricklayer – so,
be content with your task,
concentrate on the load,
rejoice at the summit.

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Happy Birthday Mr. Tolstoy

Today, September 9th, marks the birth of Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy. Tolstoy who was born back in 1828, wrote, among many other classics, the voluminous doorstop, “War and Peace”. This novel, whose English translation word count runs slightly over half a million words is so lengthy, that it has come to symbolize an event that takes a long time to complete, as in:

“What’aya doin’ in there pal, reading War and Peace?”

To me, War and Peace symbolizes the Everest of reading challenges. Personally, I have attempted, and failed, to make my way to the summit, on not one, not two, but upon three separate attempts.

Attempt number one was when I was but yet in High School – my eyes were in great shape, and my reading moxie was at its highest. I had just finished reading Dickens’ Bleak House and I thought that I could tackle anything. Unfortunately, the maze of Russian names soon brought me to my adolescent knees.

Attempt number two was made in the summer of 1991. Having recently picked up a fine hardbound copy of this book at a yard sale for 50 cents, I’d just placed it on my bookshelf, with a mental note to pick it up and start reading it someday, when when my job abruptly ended and I had – well, lots of time.

Those were the days before computers and cell phones. After mailing out a stack of resumes to every company I could think of, the only thing to do was to sit back and wait for the phone to ring, and since all phones were tethered to the wall back then, I found myself virtually housebound throughout the business day, with little to do except, read War and Peace. And read I did, for the better part of a week, but in the end, I found other pursuits to fill my day, and my hardbound copy still sits on my bookshelf with a receipt from the Hackettstown, New Jersey Shoprite, dated July 17, 1991, serving as a bookmark. The receipt is tucked firmly into page 241 – a tiny pencil mark noting the exact spot where I left off.  I have not revisited this volume since.

My third and final attempt on the summit came in the winter of 1996 (or thereabouts, but it was winter). I was spending a lot of time on New Jersey Transit trains, riding back and forth from my home in New Jersey to my job in Manhattan. I had lots of time to read. This time though, I picked up a paperback edition of War and Peace, as it was considerably less bulky than the Bible sized copy on my home bookshelf. This time I approached War and Peace with fervor. I planned it carefully. I decided that 20 pages per day would be a reasonable goal. That would be 10 pages on the train riding into the city in the morning, and 10 riding home that evening. That shouldn’t be too bad, I decided. At that rate, I would finish it in about 72 days! I made sure that I always carried a golf pencil in my pocket so that I could jot margin notes. I was prepared.

This time I went deeper into War and Peace than I had ever gone before, but around page 300 or so, I could tell that I was losing my enthusiasm. Somewhere around page 400, or about 1000 pages short of completion, I misplaced my marked up paperback copy of War and Peace, leaving it for some other passenger on the NJT Gladstone line to pick up and enjoy. So if this is where you came across your copy of War and Peace, I hope that my margin notes helped. I also hope that you made it to the summit. I do not plan to attempt another ascent.

Revisiting James Jones…Fast writing…

I am reading a book that has been on my “To read” list for a number of years. “The Pistol”, the 1959 classic by one of my favorite authors, James Jones, has flown under my reading radar for the past decade or so. I once located a copy in a used book shop some years ago, but was forced to put it back when I was told that the shop did not accept credit cards. When I returned an hour or so later, with the required three dollars, the book was gone. I forgot about it for a long time, thinking that the book was probably out of print, but for some reason, the other day on a whim, I searched Amazon for it. I found that it is alive and well, with both new and used copies available, as well as a Kindle download. (I opted for the Kindle download.)

If you haven’t read much Jones, or if you haven’t even heard of him, the Illinois native wrote largely about his wartime experiences as a soldier in World War II, having actually been present at the Bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. His award winning novel “From Here to Eternity” which won the U.S. National Award for fiction ten years later, is heralded by some to be the finest work of fiction to come from the Second World War.

“The Pistol” is more novella than novel, running a scant 148 pages. It is a great read about a young soldier stationed in the Schofield Barracks (Jones’ old Army digs on Oahu). The book begins with the attack on Pearl Harbor and follows PFC Richard Mast during the turbulent early hours of the War, when it was perceived that the air attack was simply the prelude to an all out invasion of Hawaii. Anyone with an interest of life in the pre-WWII U.S. Army, or in military history will enjoy this book.

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“A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it again.” So said Ernest Hemingway in Stockholm, Sweden in his written (although not personally delivered), speech accepting the Nobel Prize for literature in 1954.

I venture to suggest that for most of us, simply writing what we have to say is not easy. To help improve my own writing endeavors, I went searching for suggestions on how to improve my process. In so doing, I came across a great piece by Jim Denney about “Fast Writing”. It  deserves a reblog, so you can read it here. After reading this, as well as a couple of other blogs about “Fast writing” it begins to make sense. The longer that we tweak sentences, and adjust format (something we technical writers just can’t seem to get enough of), that little voice in the back of your writer’s head whispers to you, ever so gently, “this is crap…delete, delete.”

I truly think that Denney is onto something  here and I’m going to try it, as I continue with my latest work. I will note my progress here. In the meantime if you have any suggestions for keeping your story moving forward, and out of the trash, please feel free to comment.

Mahalo,

Ed

Remembering Hunter S. Thompson

February 20th marks eight years since the death of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson (HST). On that date in 2005, HST dropped the hammer on his .357 magnum revolver for the last time, thus ending his life at Owl Farm, his ‘fortified compound’ near Aspen, Colorado.

[NOTE TO READERS: Gonzo journalism can be defined as a journalistic style that does not claim objectivity. Fact and fiction are often blurred, as the reporter becomes part of the story…or that’s what I make of it anyway…]

I was shocked by the news of HST’s death.  I had followed his career for many years, my first exposure to gonzo journalism being the pop-culture, balls-to-the-wall saga of the 1972 Presidential campaign: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, 1972. HST’s alcohol fueled account of this historic campaign was, and still is, the best book about the Nixon/McGovern presidential campaign of 1972 ever written. His interview with George McGovern at the end of the book is priceless, as is the dialog between Hunter and Nixon as they spar on the only common ground they would ever share: professional football.

I went on to read the often emulated, but never equaled, Hells Angels, The Strange And Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Books about motorcycle gangs abound today, but most are written by law enforcement officers who infiltrate gangs as undercover officers. HST went straight in as a journalist, and captured dialog and feeling for subject that you won’t find in any of the cop’s books. Read today, this classic is also as much a testament to the sixties in San Francisco, as it is to the Angels.

So for me, it was inevitable that I would become a fan of HST, as we had much in common. We both shared a passion for writing, a keen interest in politics and current events, contempt and hatred for Richard M. Nixon and the Vietnam War, distain for the military industrial complex, a healthy distrust of the U.S. Government, and admiration for writer Ernest Hemingway. Also, inexplicably we both shared a somewhat bizarre interest in the inner workings of outlaw motorcycle gangs.

I think it is HST’s interest in Hemingway that is of most interest to me. Hunter was said to be so impressed with Hemingway’s work that back in the 50’s he once typed A Farewell to Arms in its entirety, just to try to capture Hemingway’s style — now that’s some serious stuff.

It is no wonder that HST travelled to Ketchum, Idaho in 1964, three years after Hemingway’s suicide to research a piece that he was writing about the death of the famous author. HST wrote the following about Hemingway:

“He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him – not even when his friends came up from Cuba and played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun.”

Once someone asked me to name my favorite first and last chapters of any book I have ever read. I didn’t have to think about that one. My favorite first chapter would be Chapter 1 of Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms.

My favorite last chapter of any book I have ever read is the last chapter of Hell’s Angels (chapter 22).

Coincidence – I think not…

With that, I close with one of my favorite HST quotes:

“Maybe there is no Heaven. Or maybe this is all pure gibberish—a product of the demented imagination of a lazy drunken hillbilly with a heart full of hate who has found a way to live out where the real winds blow—to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested . . . Res ipsa loquitur. Let the good times roll.”

Hunter S. Thompson – Generation of Swine:  Tales of Shame and Degradation in the 80’s

Remembering Edgar Guest and some thoughts on the state of poetry today

When I was a child we had a small, slim, blue, book of poetry in our house. The title of the book was It takes A Heap o’ Livin’, and it was written by Edgar A. Guest. The book, published in 1916, was one of Guest’s most popular. If you have not heard of Guest, here’s the brief bio: He was born in England in 1881 and died in Detroit, Michigan in 1959 – in the course of his 77 years, he would hammer out over 11,000 poems which would eventually be collected into over 20 poetic volumes.

Guest started out as a newspaperman, first working for the Detroit Free Press where he would quickly rise through the ranks from copy boy to reporter. Somewhere along the way he started writing poems and published his first in the aforementioned newspaper on December 11, 1892. Guest would go on to become a naturalized American citizen in 1902, and he quickly developed an earthy poetic voice, steeped in local dialect that would captivate rural America.

Guest’s poems were usually sentimental, sometimes inspiring, always rhyming, and most often corny, but they were written for mass consumption, and Guest certainly knew his demographic. Guest published almost all of his work in newspapers – the internet of the day. You needn’t be an MFA grad student, or an ivory tower English professor to understand his verse. He was a simple hard working poet, writing for a simple hard working audience, in what were, undoubtedly, simpler times.

Not to say that Edgar A. did not have his detractors. Dorothy Parker said of Edgar:  “I’d rather flunk my Wasserman test than read the poetry of Edgar Guest.” But we all have our naysayers don’t we. I will leave the link in place for those of you who might not know what the Wasserman test entails — enough said.

I mention Guest only because he authored the first poetry book that I remember reading from cover to cover. It was not the most sophisticated verse, but I believe exposure to poetry at an early age instilled a desire in me to play with words and put them together in an order that would make people want to read them – or maybe not…

Later in life I would go on to discover poets with a different voice, particularly the beat poets, Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and my all time favorite (quasi-beat) poet, Charles Bukowski – a gentleman who is perhaps the anti-Edgar A. Guest of poetry (more on Bukowski in another post).

So why write about Edgar A. Guest and old folksy poetry? It is probably because I have been reading more poetry lately, thanks to the many new friends that I have made on Twitter and Facebook. Over the past few weeks, many of you have passed along links to your websites and I have been looking at as many as I can, with the limited time I have. What I am discovering is some really high quality work. Some people have sent me links to some masterfully produced websites, with truly professional content. Thanks to all!!

An acquaintance of mine, a gentleman who has been fortunate enough to have a couple of publishing credits under his belt, growled to me in an email the other day that the internet was filled “with rubbish”.

He went on to repeat a line in his email that I have read somewhere else, although I can’t remember where, that ‘when everyone becomes a writer, no one is a reader’. Now my acquaintance can be a bit condescending when it comes to writing, not because he has a graduate degree from a very well known East Coast Ivy League university hanging on the wall of his study, and not because he has a publicist that calls him to schedule signings at distant Barnes and Noble bookstores, no — he was quite like that before he’d published a line. I do not entirely agree with him.

I fired an email back saying: “reading a great poem online right now”. I sent along the link…so far no reply.

Frankly, I am seeing some really good work on the internet by some very talented writers. So, if you have anything you’d like me to link to from my little blog, please just ask and I will be more than happy to do so. Just don’t be surprised if I ask you to link back, and maybe in some small way we can all help each other.

So that’s it for this Tuesday. I think I will close with one of the greatest (undeniably corn ball, but nonetheless uplifting) motivational poems ever written:

You can do as much as you think you can,
But you’ll never accomplish more;
If you’re afraid of yourself, young man,
There’s little for you in store.
For failure comes from the inside first,
It’s there if we only knew it,
And you can win, though you face the worst,
If you feel that you’re going to do it.

— Edgar A. Guest (from Secret of the Ages; 1926)

On Poe; Hurricane Sandy; and the US Election

When I left you last, dear readers, I included a link in my blog to a short story by Edgar Allan Poe. As I mentioned, Poe is one of my favorite writers of the short story, perhaps one of the true and great masters. The link that I attached was to one of my favorites, Manuscript Found in a Bottle. The story was first published on October 19, 1833, by the The Baltimore Saturday Visiter (Visitor), when Poe was 34 years of age and in his writing prime. If you should think otherwise – that this story was written by a drunkard, or a writer of status of any less than genius, consider only the opening two lines:

“Of my country and of my family I have little to say. Ill usage and length of years have driven me from the one, and estranged me from the other.”

–Edgar Allan Poe

The writing style is not contemporary.  But the story resonates with voice that is seldom heard these days. Poe’s led a short and tragic life.  A marriage to a 13 year old cousin, who died suddenly of tuberculosis in January of 1842, sent the writer on a drinking binge that would continue until his eventual, untimely and tragic death in 1849.

Remarkably, Poe’s poem ‘The Raven’, first published in 1845, would earn him only nine dollars, but would emblazon his name into the hearts and minds of horror genre fans for the next century and a half.

So read some Poe this season.

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It appears, that the recent weather events in the Northeastern U.S., in the wake of Hurricane Sandy has left all of our friends and family safe and well, and for that we are thankful. The damage, however, looks frightful.

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When I blog again, o’ readers, it will be to beckon all to the polls as the grim night of the United States Presidential election bears down upon all good souls and we cast our votes for whomever we deem most worthy – the one who will lead us to the light in the face of darkness – the one who will remain vigilant as we sleep – perhaps the one who will rebuff the neocons who would lead us into another devastating war in the mid-east.

To that end, I shall leave all with one of my favorite quotes – and no, it is not from Poe. I cannot take credit for it either;  in fact I can’t seem to find its author, but make of it what you will as we near the final days before the U.S. Presidential Election:

“Confidence is the feeling that you have before you completely understand the situation.”

Hurricane Sandy

In 1998 we moved from northwest New Jersey to our current home in South Florida. At that time, many of our friends warned us of the danger that we faced from hurricanes. Thankfully though, apart from a brush with Hurricane Floyd in 1999, we had little experience with these storms until the notorious hurricane season of 2005. That year brought forth, among other storms, deadly Hurricane Katrina that devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast (and also brought a good deal of damage to Florida). It also spawned Hurricane Wilma that wrecked havoc on the Caribbean and Florida, killing 19 people (6 of them in Florida), and caused billions in property damage. The 2005 hurricane season left me with a respect for these storms that I hadn’t had before living through them.

Last Tuesday, as Hurricane Sandy barreled across eastern Cuba and headed up the east coast of the United States I thought of those less fortunate – those living in the flimsy shacks in the Caribbean islands – people without the funds to flee or to safely stay. My heart reaches out to them.

Now, as Hurricane Sandy leaves our latitudes and pushes north toward our friends and family in the Northeastern U.S. we wish all in its path well.

For those of you who might find yourselves housebound for the duration of the storm, I would like to share with you one of my favorite short stories. It is a story about storm, a ‘simoom’ , and it is by one of my favorite writers – Edgar Allan Poe. Its title: Manuscript Found in a Bottle.  It is  great reading by fire light. The story goes well with a splash of old brandy in a great snifter…so pull the family tight, stoke the fire  logs and pray that the internet doesn’t fail.  Then let the winds howl. Stay safe in your abode and read this classic aloud before bed.

To all of our family and friends in the path of this storm, please prepare well and stay safe.

Mahalo,

Tropicalblender

Which novel most inspired you to write fiction – and where is William Ryan

What inspires you to write fiction? The answer to that question differs from writer to writer. Some writers I have spoken to say that they knew from their earliest years that they wanted to write fiction, and that writing has been part of their daily routine since elementary school. Still others come to fiction writing later in life. Many develop an interest in fiction writing during High School when a particular book, author or teacher inspires them. For others, the desire to write fiction comes later, during college, or in still  others not until later in life. For many writers (I am one of them), the desire to write fiction was suppressed for years by the need to generate cash, a task more easily accomplished by producing technical and non-fiction works – paying gigs if you will. Still, I wonder how many authors can say that after reading a particular book, that they were inspired to create one of their own.

Having been an avid reader all of my life, it is very difficult for me to say that one book has caused more of my creative juices to flow than another. To try to come up with my most inspirational novel (not necessarily the best novel), I turned to my “re-read shelf”. This is a shelf on my bookcase that contains the few (very few) novels that I would like to re-read between now and The End – the BIG End. As I say, a very select few novels sit on this shelf (more on those titles another day).

One book that inspired me greatly was William Ryan’s, “Dr. Excitement’s Elixir of Longevity”. This 1986 novel is about an ex-Navy SEAL, known as Dr. Excitement, who struggles to readjust to civilian life after serving in Vietnam. For some reason this book struck a cord with me, and I thought that if I wrote a novel that I would want it to look a lot like this one.

But in this blog (except for Indie books), I am not doing book reviews. Suffice to say, Dr. Excitement is no longer in print, although if you check Amazon you’ll find used copies available. By the way, if you can get your hands on a copy, the black and white photo of a tortured looking William Ryan, hand on forehead, staring blankly with an empty shot glass before him is worth whatever small price they are asking. Which leads me to the question: What has happened to William Ryan? With such a classic (to me anyway), I would expect Mr. Ryan to have published many acclaimed works since 1986. The only other William Ryan title I can find is a collection of poetry titled “Eating the Heart out of the Enemy”, which I do not own.

Anyway, this is what is on my mind today. If you have a novel that you found to be especially inspiring, please leave a comment. Or, if you have any idea of what has happened to William Ryan, I would like to hear from you.

What I’m reading – The Night Sky

Last night I put my Kindle aside for just long enough to take my dog for a walk. Outside in the post-thunderstorm, South Florida, early evening air, I did something that I have not done in a long time – I looked up at the night sky. At one time, I had an interest in astronomy, and had even purchased a cheap telescope from Home Shopping Network (now that’s commitment). It was an inexpensive instrument, however, and it soon proved to be too poorly constructed to provide a stable viewing platform. Once you finally located an object, viewing it was difficult as the object would shake and flutter and dart from view. No matter how tightly I twisted the mounting screws, or how well I secured the tripod, viewing any celestial body beyond the moon was nearly impossible.

Equipment frustrations aside, I still persisted in my new hobby, subscribing to Astronomy magazine for the monthly star charts, and tightening and tweaking my telescope. In time, other pursuits, plus the fact I was living in a location with a very high level of ambient light, caused my interest in astronomy to wane. But still there were flickers of interest. While visiting Colorado last year, I looked up into the night sky over Central City and remarked to my wife that that was how the heavens were supposed to look. For a short while, I toyed with bring my old telescope down from the attic, or more likely, purchasing a better model. It never happened.

My home in South Florida is directly in the heart of the West Palm Beach / Miami metro-plex. There is so much light in the night sky that on many nights I could read a book in my front yard. These are not conditions for viewing the Horsehead Nebula, or any other celestial body for that matter.

Last night, however, I happened to look west, out over the Everglades. A break in the late evening thunderheads revealed a beautiful picture postcard quality, quarter moon, hanging at about 30 degrees above the horizon. To the left and right above the moon were two brightly shining heavenly objects. Below and to the right was a third object, easily distinguishable, but not quite as brightly shining as the other two.

After completing my dog walk, I did a quick internet search. It took only seconds to find that the bright object, above and to the right of the quarter moon was Saturn, and the object above and to the left was the planet Mars. The body to the right and below the moon, shining with much less intensity than Saturn and Mars, but still easily discernable, was the star Spica, the brightest star in the Constellation Virgo and the fifteenth brightest star that you can view from earth. Located 260 light years from earth, the light that reached my retinas started its journey from Spica in 1752. How do you like that? With a bit more research, I discovered that the last planetary occultation (the last time a planet in our solar system passed directly in front of Spica and obscured the star (occults) it from view, was when the planet Venus passed in front of Spica. That was on November 10, 1783. Not to worry, another planetary occultation is coming up – on September 2, 2197.

Feeling small and insignificant in an unimaginably large universe, I went away from my stellar research with a mental note to look for a new telescope.

Five books that you were always going to read – but it’s too late now…

Suppose it’s late in the year, 2012. You’re driving to work on I-80 in northern New Jersey, or the DC beltway, or God forbid, 595 in Ft. Lauderdale. You’ve just taken your first sip of coffee and cranked up a Doobie Brothers tune on the local Yacht-rock  FM affiliate when all hell busts loose.

An Atlanta-based shock jock is suddenly telling you that the six-mile-wide meteor that was supposed to be an internet myth has plunged into the Atlantic somewhere south of the Canary Islands. As of this moment, a 250-foot wall of water is racing across the ocean directly toward you. You have a half an hour to get your affairs in order before you take the deep dive, so take a breath. What do you do? Do you call family, friends, or loved ones (you probably won’t get through, so don’t bother). Pray? Who to, they’re probably some Mayan gods anyway, and it’s probably too late to make simpatico with those guys. So since you’re stuck in traffic you may as well flip through your DayTimer (or more likely your iPad or laptop) to see what life-events you’re going to have to scratch for eternity.

If you’re like me, you’ll turn first to the list of books that you’ve always intended to read but put off because you thought you’d have lots of time someday to read them. Well, it’s to friggin’ late now Partner. Here’s my list – let’s just do the top five since there probably is no time for the any more than that:

  1. Moby Dick; Herman Melville. I confess I have never read this classic, and I always felt guilty that I didn’t. It was almost the first download that I put on my Kindle, but I opted for Edward Abbey’s The Monkeywrench Gang instead. Not that I shy from a heavy read. I made it through ‘Bleak House’ and ‘Barnaby Rudge’ but I have never even cracked the cover of this book. Oh well…too late now.
  2. Death in the Afternoon; Ernest Hemingway. Being a huge Papa fan, it grieves me that I will be taking my last and final dive without having read this bullfighting classic. Maybe being an animal lover has kept me from reading this one. In any case it has been on my shelf for years – unread, and in light of today’s events likely to remain that way for eternity.
  3. The Road; Cormac McCarthy. I am almost as big a fan of Cormac McCarthy as I am of Papa, but it looks like I’ve run out of time on this one too. Being too busy with the Border Trilogy to read it, I will have to bid farewell to, arguably America’s greatest living author, without reading what is considered by many to be his greatest work…oh well.
  4. “Infinate Jest”by David Foster Wallace. I have always wanted to read this book every since I picked it up at Barnes and Nobel in University Plaza in Boca Raton a couple of years ago and tried to lift it. I confess, I have never read a word of DFW apart from several bios after his death. But this book keeps coming up and if I were to live well into my nineties, I would probably have read it…but not now.
  5. “The Honey Badger” by Robert Ruark. When I was eighteen years old, I bought a paperback in an Iowa drug store titled: Uhuru. It was a great book and over the years I read more about Robert Ruark, a man who emulated Hemmingway, and was a great writer in his own right. So I read Ruark before Papa – how do you like that. This book was  his last and it has been on my list for years.

These are the five books that I will likely to NOT have read when the big one comes down this December.

What are yours??

EP