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Friday, January 29, 2021

Re-introducing Crazy About You


Crazy About You
was the second novel I completed and is still at No. 1 among my downloaded works of fiction. My father had been the dentist at Larned (KS) State Hospital and its 1,500 mental patients. My first job was working in the cafeteria that I could reach by walking because the State provided us housing on the grounds, which were located three miles west of Larned. Write about what you know, they say. So I did. An excerpt:

The hospital was located three miles outside of a small town that was in the middle of a state in the middle of the nation. It was the dumping ground for the retarded, the senile, the schizos and the paranoids, the brain-damaged, adolescent dopers, the suicidal-depressed, the manics, maniacs, and the perpetually confused.

I like the structure of the book. First person. Tells about one week in the life of a high school boy that will grow him into a man far faster than he could have wanted. After it was published many readers wanted to know how much of it was real. At first, I was offended. Didn’t they think I had a creative imagination? Then I realized the question was a high compliment. If they thought it was real, the writing did its job: create a reality for the reader.

Here’s what some reviewers had to say, grouped by compliment category:

 VERSIMILITUDE

I happen to work at the state hospital depicted in this story and it is incredible fact or fiction; the detail that was written I could see everything he wrote so I was able to follow it with such ease and enjoyed it very much. A very believable story that seemed so familiar.

 *** 

Having spent my formative years in Larned, Kansas, and also having worked briefly at the state mental hospital there, I can tell you that his descriptions of life at the state hospital are totally spot-on! The story line is also good--but I won't spoil it for anyone. Funny, sad, poignant. And suspenseful!

STYLE

What I loved best about this book was, truly, the writer’s style. He has a laid-back, very easy-to-read way with words that bring his characters alive quickly.

 ***

I cannot think of an author that I can compare Randy with. He is just unique. Randy has the skill to shake your nerve and give a direction to forethought process like no other.

READER CAPTURE QUOTIENT

I sat up till 3:30 a.m. reading Crazy About You. Couldn't put it down. Have a few more pages to complete but I must tell you, I am now a fan of Randy Attwood's writing. Can't wait to begin a second book and read through his entire works. Easy read, humorous, good story line and left me wanting more.

 ***

I'm so glad this book was recommended to me. I have been reading indie books for years with so much disappointment, but this but was amazing. The pace was great, the plot was awesome, and the characters were so very believable. I loved that Attwood really dug into the mind of Brad, and let me know everything he was thinking. It was everything I imagined the mind of a teenage boy to be at times, and some thoughts so profound it made me feel like he was in my head.

DEEP IMPACT

Crazy About You is the second book by Randy Attwood I have read, and my admiration for his writing skills grows with each page as I read. This story takes the reader for a trip into the strange space between the sane and insane--a mist-blurred world full of angst, mystery, surprises, plus bizarre and unpredictable behavior . . . with an array of characters that are so well developed your heart reaches out to them. Well, most of them...but there is much more. An evil presence drives the story into even darker places that you expect, at a pace that turns the pages as fast as you can read. This is an engaging and compelling coming-of-age tale that will haunt the reader for days and leave you wishing for more. Yet, it is also satisfying and fully resolved in a way that touches your heart.

PLOT SUMMARY

The story involves brutal staff, many of whom are more twisted than those they are supposed to care for, a sad young woman who was victimized by her father and than by the system, unfortunate souls who need professional help that is seldom available to them, the local juvenile delinquent, and a couple of teenage girls whose hormones are as out of control as only teenage hormones can be. The author brings them and others together to weave a story that will keep you turning the pages and that you won't soon forget.

 ***

Crazy About You defies categorization, but suffice it to say that those looking for pure excitement and good story telling will not be disappointed. Nor will those who thrive on the deeper layers of psychological tension. Although the novel often deals with forces out of the protagonist's control, it also tackles tough moral choices that indelibly shape our lives, all within the context of a fantastical drama that will leave the reader musing for days. But ultimately, this is a story about absolution. If you have not laughed out loud often and shed a few tears by the end, you'd better see a shrink.

 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

A history of the treatment of the insane from my most download novel: Crazy About You

 Excerpt from CRAZY ABOUT YOU

By Randy Attwood

If you judged a civilization by how it treated its insane, it would modify your opinion of how advanced we were. And are.

Consider.

At first the insane were allowed to roam at will and whipped out of villages when they became a nuisance.

When Dante was writing The Divine Comedy, the insane were believed to be possessed and were burned at the stake. In The Divine Comedy the word “bizarre” first appeared to describe a madman.

When Galileo was proving that the Earth went around the Sun, the insane were given holy water to drink from a church bell. If that didn’t work, they were burned at the stake. Want to guess how many times it worked?

About the time that Heidelberg and Cologne Universities were founded, Bethlehem Hospital in London became an institution for the insane. It was so poorly funded that its inmates were given licenses to go begging for food. The hospital was such an ungoverned mess that the way Bethlehem was pronounced, Bedlam, became a word for uncontrolled madness.

In the years Shakespeare was writing his plays, you could take your family on an outing for six-pence and view the madhouse chamber of horrors where the restrained violent, often egged on by visitors, would snap and snarl at you, or you could be entertained by inmates who believed they were Oliver Cromwell, Julius Caesar, and even the Virgin Mary. Great laughs.

In France, while Lavoisier was proving that air was a mixture of mostly oxygen and nitrogen, the inspector general of French hospitals reported that thousands of lunatics were locked up in prisons without anyone even thinking of administering the slightest remedy. The half-mad mingled with the totally deranged. Some were in chains. Some were free to roam. He called them the step-children of life.

Life for normal people in France wasn’t all that healthy, either. Out of 1,000 live births only 475 reached age 20. Only 130 reached age 60.

It was kind of an irony that our own Pinel Building for the Criminally Insane was named in honor of the French doctor during the French Revolution who freed the insane from their shackles. But ironies abound in the history of insanity.

While Harvey was developing his proof of circulation, the inmates at Bedlam were treated en mass. At the end of each May they were all bled, then made to vomit weekly, then purged. The attendants must have dreaded that time of the year.

Into the beginning of the 1800s, when John Dalton introduced the atomic theory into chemistry, the insane were treated with such loony cures as plasters of mashed up Spanish fly, or had the veins in the forehead cut so the head could be bled. Later, on an opposite theory, inmates were strapped in a chair called the gyrator that spun the inmate around so more blood would circulate to his head.

In the late 1800s when society was really getting civilized, Dr. David Yellowless of Glascow developed a surgical attack on what was then called masturbatory insanity, which alienists believed was at epidemic proportions. Dr. Yellowless inserted a silver wire in the foreskin, making erections so painful it would eliminate the crazy-causing things. Other methods called for safety pins to be used on uncircumcised men so that their foreskins were pierced by the silver-coated (to reduce infection) pins through the glans of the penis, also causing pain during erections, another method for eliminating the damnable things.

The Rush Building, where Suzanne was housed, was named after Benjamin Rush, honored as the father of American psychiatry, who firmly held to the belief that masturbation caused insanity. Oh, and he was the fellow who invented that gyrator. And he also believed that blacks were black not because God created them that way but because they suffered from a congenital form of leprosy, mild, to be sure, but enough so it resulted in excess pigmentation.

Rush wrote in his Medical Inquiries upon Diseases of the Mind that masturbation produced seminal weakness, impotence, painful urination, emaciation, pulmonary consumption, indigestion, dimness of sight, vertigo, epilepsy, hypochondriasis, loss of memory, idiocy, and death. A French physician, Pouillet, concurred. Masturbation posed a grave threat. Pouillet wrote: “Of all the vices and of all the misdeeds which may properly be called crimes against nature, which devour humanity, menace its physical vitality and tend to destroy its intellectual and moral faculties, one of the greatest and most widespread -- no one denies it -- is masturbation.”

Freud, too, regarded adult masturbation as a pathologic practice and part of the cause of neuroses.

But, in one of the great turnabouts in the history of psychiatry, therapists later would prescribe masturbation as healthy to the mind and body.

For women, it was once believed that mental disorders were caused by pelvic excitations and clitoridectomies were tried, especially in cases of epilepsy.

Later, sex therapists would recommend masturbation for women, too, as a way to healthy sex.

In the Soviet Union they tried prolonged sleep therapy on the insane. America used hydrotherapy, placing agitated patients in hot water for days so that blood flow increased to the body’s largest organ, its skin, thus lowering respiration and blood pressure and creating a state of relaxation.

In the 1930s the increase of admissions of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic was so high it was theorized there must be a schizococcus germ that could pass on schizophrenia to an offspring. In 1936 a committee of the American Neurological Association hoped that American physicians could someday emulate the clinical efficiency of the Germans in their treatment of eugenics. Germany had over 200 courts to determine which psychiatric and neurological patients should be sterilized. During Hitler’s Reich more than 400,000 sterilizations were counted.

The most effective sterilization is death and the Nazis tested methods of mass murder first on mental patients before they applied them to other undesirable populations. At the start of the Third Reich there were 200,000 patients in mental hospitals. At the end of the Third Reich there were 20,000. An interesting twist in early Nazi civilization is that it was deemed humanitarian to euthanize incurable mental patients, but not Jews. Jews were considered subhuman and so not worthy of euthanization.

From 1909 to 1934 in the civilization called America, California sterilized 15,000 psychiatric patients. Twenty-seven states adopted sterilization laws. They were used often against the retarded.

One attempted treatment for schizophrenia, as well as depression and psychosis, was -- what many people regarded as a kind of euthanasia -- the lobotomy. Its main American proponent, Dr. Walter Freeman, would make driving trips across America to stop at state hospitals and perform the procedure he had simplified to the point he felt that a sterile field wasn’t even necessary. First you anesthetized the patient with electro-shock, rolled back his eyelid, place the tip of instrument, a leucotome, which was a modified ice pick, against his tear duct (which is 98 percent sterile) and drove it through his eye socket with a hammer whack, shoved it into the brain and wiggled it around. Forty-thousand people were lobotomized between 1945 and 1955 in America. In 1949, the Portuguese doctor who first did lobotomies was the co-winner of the Nobel prize for medicine and was cited for discovering the value of freeing the brain from the disturbing effects of its pre-frontal lobes.

Larned State Hospital came from a time when a concern grew that the rate of insanity in America was way too high: one out of 262 persons compared to a rate of one out of 1,000 in Europe. Blamed then was the rapid acquisition of wealth in America, that with luxury, insanity kept pace. It was the price of civilization, some reasoned. The quicker you go rich, the more likely you were to get nutty, too.

So what those patients needed was order and discipline restored to their lives. Asylum superintendents spent much of their time planning, and writing detailed papers on, how a hospital and its buildings and grounds should be laid out. How high the ceilings should be, how boring its wards. How a patient’s day should be structured. Then they rivaled each other by announcing cure rates. A person was cured if he was released back into society. Sometimes a person would be cured five times because they would have to be re-admitted, cured, released and have to be re-admitted. But it upped the cure rate.

Shortly after World War II, when we had learned of the horrors the Nazi’s afflicted on the Jews in the concentration camps, “The Baltimore Sun,” in 1949, printed a series of articles called Maryland’s Shame, which detailed how that state treated its mentally ill. More than 9,000 inmates were crammed in fire-trap institutions designed for 6,000 patients. Few received any treatment. Thousands lived like animals. Many rolled in their own excrement. Others slept nude in the winter because there were no blankets. Attendants, paid less than prison guards, stole patients’ money, got drunk on duty and raped female patients. Sex offenders and small children were housed together.

Oh, and while man was making his great scientific and engineering achievement of walking on the moon in 1969, lobotomies were still being performed.

In 1976, “The Philadelphia Inquirer” would win a Pulitzer prize for a series of articles it ran about the conditions of Farview State Hospital, the institution of last resort for the criminally insane in Pennsylvania. Here, too, hundreds of patients who had no work to do did nothing but sit in ward chairs all day long. Only three percent received any real psychiatric care. Men died after beatings by guards or by other patients, egged on by guards. Such deaths were certified as being caused by heart attacks. There was an unwritten code among guards that all guards present had to hit a patient if one guard hit him. Commitments to Farview were so easy that cases were recorded of a 30-day disorderly conduct sentence turning into a 30-year sentence.

The history of commitment procedures makes for interesting reading, too. For example, in France, in 1737, a father had his son committed because the son was heavily in debt and had been dismissed from the army and so had disgraced himself and his family. In 1697, a French woman was committed because she was the mistress of a nobleman who had practically abandoned his wife, family, and duty because he was so nuts over the skirt. In other words, people were committed as insane who disturbed the social order. When society didn’t have the basis to bring criminal legal proceedings against those who offended it, they found ways to get rid of them by using nut houses to throw them in, nut houses that were such hell holes that, as the old saying goes, if you weren’t crazy when you got there, you would be after you stayed.

Back in the Farview case, all it took was the signature of two physicians, and they didn’t need to be psychiatrists, to certify to a court that the subject was mentally ill and in need of treatment to get him committed. That didn’t secure treatment, but it did secure incarceration, sometimes until the patient died of old age. Finally, a court case was successful that freed the patients based on the cruel and unusual punishment clause in the Constitution. Patients were transferred to civil hospitals or back into the community. A follow-up study showed only a fourteen percent recidivism rate among these 500 patients previously designated by Farview as criminally dangerous.

In 1964, the year I was a junior in Larned High School and living on the grounds of Larned State Hospital, we were living in what one author called the “enlightened fourth phase” of dealing with the insane. Society had moved from 1) being afraid of the mentally ill because they were possessed of evil spirits to 2) simply protecting itself from the insane by chaining them or locking them up to 3) treating them in a humanitarian way by placing them in asylums where they were harbored but not really treated and so suffered chronic anonymity to 4) now seeing mental illness as an illness to be treated and cured.

It’s just we still didn’t really have a clue how the hell to do it.

Later, we’d just give up and send them back into the streets to roam at will, beg for food, be beaten by police, and again be housed with criminals. Some evangelicals would return to the possession theory and try to drive the demons out. This time in front of television cameras.

And some theorists would suggest that it wasn’t the insane who were insane, rather it was the sane who used such people to mark the boundaries of their own sanity. The so-called insane were the people we used to sort of pee on so we could mark the territory of our own smug, mentally secure property.



Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Depopulating My Library, Part VI: Miscellaneous Stuff


I think I’ve reached the end of selling off all books by a single author. I’ve been letting my eyes roll through my shelves and my hands pluck items I won’t read again, important and interesting as so many of them where.

It’s a mix of fiction and non-fiction form Joseph Campbell to H.P. Lovecraft, a 1918 Zane Grey, and The First Man, the final work by Albert Camus that I tried to read and couldn’t get into. If you’re in KC and interested in any of these works, they’ll be at Wise Blood (if they buy them) at 300 Westport Road and now open for business.

I’ll keep at the random picking from my shelves and then write a post about which authors I’ve kept and why (as far as I can figure out).

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Depopulating My Library, Part V: Some Books by Me!


Today, I stopped by Blood Wise, the soon-to-open used bookstore here in KC at 300 Westport Road, to find Dylan on a ladder hanging an outside sign in preparation for the store's Dec. 13 grand opening.

A co-worker was helping him level the sign and I went inside with my box of books to sell, and a hope.

The offering from me was a mix of Updikes, Saul Bellows, Rushdie, Stephen King, a mix of horror anthology paperbacks, and not-so-famous authors I’ve either read and won’t re-read or started and couldn’t get into.

And….

“Be willing to look at my stuff?”

He was. I came back later and found out what he was offering for the works of others and that he would buy outright to carry in the store three books by me! A small victory, but a victory none-the-less. I’ll be probing him later to see what attracted him to these particular works among my smorgasbord of genres. I didn’t really expect him to buy more. It’s an investment on the store’s part. They don’t know if these will sell. Hope springs eternal: if they do sell, Blood Wise may stock more, and buy other titles. Hope--which has been dashed often in my life--is hard to kill. Live on, Hope. Who knows.

They are creating a really nice environment for the store. Opening date Dec. 13 is a Friday and, who knows, maybe I’ll be there. If so, I’ll let you know what time.

Here are the three works you’ll find on the shelves at Blood Wise, placed, I hope, above a shelf of Margaret Atwood books and sporting a sign: “Read Our Attwood Books!”




Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Depopulating My Library, Part IV: Thank You and Goodbye Walker Percy


I thought I had more Walker Percy books than I found on the shelves. I had four and three of them have gone to Wise Blood, a soon-to-open used bookstore in Westport here in KC in December: The Message in the Bottle, The Last Generation, and Thanatos Syndrome.

I’m keeping The Moviegoer, the novel that put Percy on the literary map by winning the National Book Award for Fiction in 1962. Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 and J.D. Salinger’s Franny and Zoey were also nominees. Percy was a Roman Catholic and many of his books have spiritual themes, but not overtly so. One critic called The Moviegoer “A Catcher in the Rye for adults only.”

By all accounts Percy was also a nice person. The mother of John Kennedy Toole called Percy up when he was teaching at Loyola and persuaded him to read her dead son’s novel, who had committed suicide because of his inability to get published A Confederacy of Dunces. Percy, should read it because, she said “It’s a great novel.”

Percy read it, concurred, and opened the avenue for her son's wonderful book to be published.

During my try-to-get published saga, I reached out to Percy. A friend had interviewed him for literary journal he was editing and had Percy’s home address in Covington, LA. The book I was trying to get published or find an agent for was The 41st Sermon. I thought it would be up his alley: a middle-aged Episcopal priest finds himself in a mid-life crisis and mid-faith crisis. Every year he goes alone to a fishing resort to fish, drink, and write the outlines of the next year’s sermons. There, he unexpectedly encounters a blonde parishioner who, unbeknownst to him, is there as part of a phony kidnapping plot to extort money from her husband. The priest gets entrapped, too.

So I sent Percy the first few chapters. He sent the cover letter back to me with this written on it: “It reads well – I’d be glad to look at rest, but must tell you I had to give up finding agents or publishers for unpublished writers.—.I’d be doing nothing else. Everybody in the South is writing a novel – Best, W.P.”

It is hard for me to express my joy. Walter Fucking Percy said “It reads well”! Maybe I did have some talent. And so I waited. And I waited. And I….read six months later his obituary in The Kansas City Star. The manuscript never was returned to me. I learned later that soon after he responded to me he was diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer.

When I published The 41st Sermon I included a photo of my cover letter to him and his response. If you want to read the novel, it’s here.

The other books I sold were a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Among them: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon Vol 1 and Vol 2, Evan Connell’s Mr. Bridge, Larry McMurtry’s Dead Man’s Walk and an interesting, but depressing, book by Daniel DeFoe, A Journal of the Plague Year.

When I used the $15 so earned and spent it on a 12-pack of Warsteiner Octoberfest beer, I was reminded of Robert Heinlein’s price advice. A paperback novel should cost the same as a six-pack of beer.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Depopulating My Library, Part III: Len Deighton, Robert Heinlein, and maybe Adam Hall


I guess I started reading spy novels in high school when I grabbed any James Bond book that showed up in the row of paperback books sold at Knupp’s Drug Store in Larned, KS (yes, complete with cherry cokes at the fountain). The only Ian Fleming work I still have is his best Bond book and the best movie From Russia with Love. I might as well keep it.


My favorite spy author is John LeCarre and I have all but his most recent work. The writing is superb, the tales captivating and what wonderful movies were and are being made from them. I have 13 hardback copies (including a First Edition American one of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold complete with book jacket in nice condition that I got for $3) and 9 paperback copies, some of which replicate the hardback edition. Rereading them is like putting on a comfortable sweater. Not that his prose is easy, but it’s so fluid and it ages well, like wine. No doubt I’ll go back and take sips.



I also liked Len Deighton and have all his works. I’ve reread them a couple of times and very much admire his plotting and character developments. His tryptich of trilogies about the English spy Bernard Samson in Berlin were captivating. Ian Holm played that spy in a 1988 Granada Television excellent adaptation of the first trilogy, entitled Game, Set and Match, transmitted as twelve 60 minute episodes. I don’t know if they can be found these days because Deighton got into something of snit about them. Anyway, I’m not going to revisit his works. They are now in the hands of Wise Blood, a soon to open used bookstore here in KC's Westport.

Adam Hall’s Quiller series and John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee series present something of mystery to me. There were several times in my life when I was just down. I won’t call it a depression, but certainly a blue period complete with anxiety about my life, what I was doing, and what would happen to me.

I often turned to reread the Quiller or the MacDonald books, loving to do so in the order they were published. Why? Well, they’re good action reads and that takes you out of yourself. With Travis McGee it wasn’t so much the story as the character. You just wanted to be around Travis again. Adam Hall, the pen name Elleston Trevor adopted for the Quiller books, really knew how to do action. He knew when to stop a scene at its most dramatic and keep you on the seat of your chair. They are page turners, but I don’t need to turn those pages anymore. So Deighton is now gone and Hall may follow. I’m still undecided. I’ll keep my Travis McGee books. I might want to have a drink with him again (he turned me on to Boodles gin). These are books I’d more wish to give to a friend.

Which is what I did with my Robert Heinlein paperback collection. (Heinlein fans, if you haven’t read is The Door into Summer, I highly recommend it. Great use of time travel and looking at the book cover reminded me that in this 1957 book he uses a piece of equipment that won’t be invented for decades, the Cad Cam.) A new bartender at  Chez Charlie’s, my Midtown watering hole in KC that I’ve been patronizing for more than 30 years, has become a reader of my fiction and likes sci-fi, so I plopped my Heinlein collection on the bar top, said they were hers, and ordered a Bombay Sapphire and tonic (they don’t carry Boodles).

In any of these musings of mine make your curious about my own smorgasbord of fiction genres, visit the buffet here.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Depopulating My Library, Part II: A Farewell to Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner


I started college early by going to summer school at the University of Kansas instead of waiting for the fall semester. I don’t remember I took any books with me, other than maybe the Webster’s dictionary given us as some sort of high school graduation honor. But across the hall from my dorm room I encountered a character who not only had books, but had racks of steel shelves to hold those books.

I became enraptured of him and his books. In the room next to mine was an older man who had finished his Navy tour and was taking courses to go to medical school. He had books. Art books, too that featured reproductions of fine art by Michelangelo, Di Vinci, and other famous artists.

All this was wonderful and new to me.

Through that first person, John Kiely (who would be come a friend, future roommate, mentor pictured right and now, sadly, long dead), I encountered Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway wrote in a simple, straightforward way that communicated directly with one’s perception by creating through words a sense of the reality of life. How is that possible using words? It amazed me. He created scenes, but also emotions. A couple of examples:

From the Nick Adams stories:

“In the fall the war was still there, but we did not go there anymore.” Wonderful use of the self-reflective “we” instead of the technically accurate “I.” And the repletion of “there” when most advice says don’t repeat the same word. Through his prose he distilled and found the essence of things.

The first sentence from A Farewell to Arms: “In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.” That cascade of prepositions carries you along and again “in a house in a village” repeats a preposition that works perfectly.

His style entices young writers to imitate him. And, of course, brings the danger of being a copy cat. I took a fiction writing class at KU. The Southern writer Reynolds Price came to visit and would read what we presented to him. I had only a few paragraphs. Here’s one of them:

March Snows
The snows came in March and it was unfair because that same morning there had been the smell of spring in the air. But during the night the snows came, and I awoke when I heard the wind. I got up and parted the curtains and looked out at the street lamp and saw the snow blowing as it collected in drifts around the trees and her car in the driveway. A happiness I did not understand filled me when I looked down at the bed where she slept. I slid down under the covers again and she stirred, her lips slightly parted and her yellow hair everywhere. I pulled her close to me and slowly inhaled our warmth—man warm and woman warm together—as the wind continued to howl


Price called the paragraphs “quite lovely.” But then he was a lovely man. The Hemingway imitation is obvious. But I still like those paragraphs and I hope I learned that finding rhythms and sentences is a virtue, not an imitation.

Hemingway himself became a caricature of his macho self. And the prose ran its course in the same manner. Much wonderful stuff and should be read, of course. But I don’t need them anymore.

There is one Hemingway novel I will, however, keep. Oddly enough, it is one of his most panned works: Across the River and into the Trees. I still don’t understand why, but the evening of the day I received the phone call from my aunt telling me my father had died, I pulled that novel from the shelf and reread it with pen in hand. I underlined passages that were important to me at the unique time in my life.

I will keep that now battered, mutilated book. The other Hemingway books are now gone. Not gone is my desire to complete a simple sentence with the right rhythm to cast the right spell upon a reader.

Faulkner, with his denser prose, could cast spells, too. I enjoyed my swimming, wading, and sometimes slogging through his stories and sentences. But I have no desire to reenter his waters, lush though they were. Hemingway's popularity continues. The son of a couple we are good friends with opened a bar in Westport called "The Pressed Penny Tavern," which many Hemingway fans may recognize. He has an alcove of Hemingway books and memorabilia. I had given him many early editions of Hemingway's work and books about Hemingway. Encourage my KC Facebook fans to stop in and at find out why Gordon Roberts gave his bar that odd name.

So the Hemingway and Faulkner portions of my library have been purchased by owners of Wise Blood, a soon-to-open used bookstore at 300 West Westport Road here in Kansas City.

Selling those collections gave me enough cash for a couple of drinks over which I contemplated my few successes and my many failings. And realizing I am thankful for both and the so many people I have met along the way.