John William Tuohy lives in Washington DC

My wish for you is that you continue............................


This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut. Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.      

The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.

Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer)
and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)

With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and loveable Gabe.

Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.


In 1962, six year old John Tuohy, his two brothers and two sisters entered Connecticut’s foster care system and were promptly split apart. Over the next ten years, John would live in more than ten foster homes, group homes and state schools, from his native Waterbury to Ansonia, New Haven, West Haven, Deep River and Hartford. In the end, a decade later, the state returned him to the same home and the same parents they had taken him from. As tragic as is funny compelling story will make you cry and laugh as you journey with this child to overcome the obstacles of the foster care system and find his dreams.

John Tuohy, member of the Irish National Police Force and John Tuohy, writer, taken in Dublin Ireland

John William Tuohy is a writer who lives in Washington DC. He holds an MFA in writing from Lindenwood University. He is the author of numerous non-fiction on the history of organized crime including the ground break biography of bootlegger Roger Tuohy "When Capone's Mob Murdered Touhy" and "Guns and Glamour: A History of Organized Crime in Chicago."
His non-fiction crime short stories have appeared in The New Criminologist, American Mafia and other publications. John won the City of Chicago's Celtic Playfest for his work The Hannigan's of Beverly, and his short story fiction work, Karma Finds Franny Glass, appeared in AdmitTwo Magazine in October of 2008.
His play, Cyberdate.Com, was chosen for a public performance at the Actors Chapel in Manhattan in February of 2007 as part of the groups Reading Series for New York project. In June of 2008, the play won the Virginia Theater of The First Amendment Award for best new play.
Contact John:

Excerpt from my book "No Time to Say Goodbye: Memoirs of a Life in Foster Care.

That same week the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus was in town, and had placed an ad in the Republican-American newspaper calling for day laborers for the minimum wage: a dollar sixty-five an hour, plus three meals for the day and a free ticket to the show.
  I went up to the site with Jack Battista, whom I knew from school, one of the guys I would share an apartment with in New Haven in the fall. He was going to Southern Connecticut State College there. I wasn’t interested in working for the circus, but Jack was, so I went along. Being too cautious can ruin your life.  We weren’t there an hour before the hiring boss convinced Jack to join the show for the rest of the summer.
  Jack bounced over to me and said, “You want to join the circus? They’re goin’ all the way up to Cape Cod.”
He caught me off guard, so I didn’t answer, but he grabbed my arms and said, “You remember that show on TV, Circus Boy?”
  “Yeah,” I said. “I think so.”
  “It’ll be like that,” he said. I was bored, and traveling with the circus seemed like a better idea than spending another weekend getting drunk in the park with my friends.
  Classes began at the University in very late August and because I had some money saved up, I decided to be an irresponsible teenager for an entire month. So I quit my job and joined the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus.
  Jack cleared it with his parents, who were reluctant, and we signed on as roustabouts, the circus term for unskilled laborers. We agreed to stay with the show from Connecticut through the final performance at the Kennedy family estate in Hyannisport, Massachusetts.
  On our first night we were called together by the straw boss, a man called “The Chief.” It was the only name he had as far as we knew. A short, pudgy black man who wore a white straw cowboy hat with a feather, he had a voice as deep as a bullfrog’s and a thick South Carolina accent.
  “You boys get to takin’ down the seats and load ’em into the truck.” he told us, and we joined a group of fifty to sixty men of all ages, sizes, and races in a work gang dismantling the benches.
  When we finished, we were loaded into the back of a tractor-trailer outfitted with several dozen wooden bunk beds fitted with the slimmest mattresses I have ever seen. Looking at the bunks, it was easy to tell the newcomers from the old-timers. The old-timers had plastered the walls in their bunk areas with pin-ups of naked women, explicit pornography next to pictures of their families. The newcomers’ walls were undecorated.
  The men were a cross-section of humanity. The only thing they seemed to have in common was a beaten and haggard look etched into their lined faces, and all of them, to a man, seemed rougher than hell. Their ages and races varied. Jack and I were doing this as a lark, but it scared me because they had to do this and I was only a bare inch away from being one of them. 
  There were perhaps eight dim lights in the tin ceiling and the smell of perspiration was everywhere and on everything. I looked up and down the narrow, crowded center of the truck for a bathroom, but there wasn’t one.
  “Where do you go to take a leak?” I asked anyone.
  “You don’t,” came anyone’s answer.
  The truck started rolling while Jack and I were still trying to find available bunks. We found two close together. I climbed into one and Jack was moving knapsacks and paper bags filled with clothes from the other when a voice boomed out, “I’ll cut your hands off you touch my stuff.”
  The speaker was a tall, muscular man with long jet-black hair combed back in a pompadour, a dirty T-shirt, equally dirty jeans and a pair of brown leather cowboy boots. Topping off that was a switchblade resting on his lap. The entire end of our side of the trailer went silent. Jack turned and faced the man, who was lying in his bunk. I stood up from my bunk because—well, I had to. I was with Jack and it was the right thing to do.
  I watched Jack’s nostrils flare and his eyes open wide. He had been a lethal fullback on the Wilby High School football team and looked it. His head, almost perfectly square, was made even squarer by his crewcut. His neck was thick and muscular and although he was on the short side, his shoulders were broad and dense and his biceps were massive, at least twenty inches around. Aside from that, there was something about Jack, as gentle, kind and well-mannered as he was, that made men step aside.
  In one motion Jack smacked the knife to the floor and had a gigantic hand around the guy’s neck, his other hand cocked in a fist aimed at the man’s head.
  “You are making me very unhappy,” Jack said, “and I also feel very threatened by your knife.”
  He waited for the man to acknowledge what he had just said with the long blink of an eye.
  “Also,” he continued, “I feel strongly that you should not be taking up two bunks when there are not enough to go around.”
  I sat back down on my bunk. Jack didn’t need me. This pompadour guy was toast.
  Again, Jack waited for an acknowledgement, and when he got one he added, “I’m going to bed now because I’m very tired. Is there anything you would like to add to this conversation between us at this given time?”
  The man shook his head no. Jack released his grip and held his hand out for the man to shake. “My name is Jack.”
  The man looked as if he were about to cry, but he shook Jack’s hand silently. Jack kept the knife and we both agreed, in a whisper, that it would probably be better if we took turns standing guard throughout the night in case the crazy guy tried anything, but we both fell asleep within an hour.
  The next day started at sunup in New London, Connecticut, on the shoreline. The chief pulled open the trailer door and clean, fresh salt air flushed the stench out. From the sky I could tell there was a heavy storm on its way in from the Atlantic.
  “Y’all new boys listen on up,” the chief  yelled. “Y’all’s on the house and tent crew. That means we got to get up the Big Top, put up the seating, and then take it all down again at night. Y’all listen to me what I tell you out there, or else you could lose a hand or an arm or an eye or both. I seen it happen more than once. All right, let’s go.”
  I considered losing an eye to a tent wire and spending the rest of my life on a street corner selling pencils. People with my affliction worry—big, colorful, misery-type worries.
  We jumped out of the truck and all sixty of us found a spot of grass and flooded it with urine. At the center of the field the poles and ropes for the Big Top were already waiting. We formed a huge circle of two-man teams and picked up of the thick ropes lying on the ground while the chief walked in circles shouting orders. “Two hands, y’all, two hands, hold it till the ground till I tell you to pull up, and then y’all pull up.”
  Jack and I had the same rope. An elephant waddled into the circle and was chained to the enormous metal pole lying in the middle. The chief pointed to the elephant and shouted, “You new boys, y’all listen up. That elephant go crazy and start in on a rampage ’cause of the storm, y’all grab a rod and poke his ass back into the middle.”
  Elephants are big, but they’re even bigger standing next to you in an open field near New London, Connecticut at sunrise, and this guy expected us to sword-fight this monster with a wooden stick until he calmed down. I asked, “Hey, Chief, do they go on a rampage a lot?”
  “It depends,” he answered almost philosophically. “If they’re in heat, they in a sour bad mood, maybe they go apeshit, maybe not. It depends, really. Elephant’s tricky animals.” I had never really thought of elephants as tricky.
  Then the skies opened and it started to pour. Not just rain, but big enormous buckets of rain blowing in from the ocean, and then came the lightning and thunder, and the elephant cried out in fear and I said to Jack, “You and your freakin’ Circus Boy.”
  Surprisingly, it took only about an hour to put up the tent and the bleachers. We lined up in the rain for breakfast, which was served from the back of a small truck. Jack, a healthy-foods type, refused to eat, but, as always I was hungry and had the cook load me up with bacon and scrambled eggs. But it was still pouring, and the mess tent was far across the field, and by the time I got there my breakfast was floating across my plastic plate.
  When the rain let up, Jack found a lawn chair and caught up on his sleep and I roamed the grounds being nosy, asking questions, and interviewing the circus people. I learned that the clowns, most of whom were from Europe, were on the top of the circus class system pyramid and my group, the roustabouts, at the very bottom, below the monkeys, who smoked cigarettes whenever they were offered them and had learned to give passersby the finger.
  I spent part of the afternoon in the roustabouts’ tent, drinking coffee and listening and watching. The tent was like some sort of Casbah black market for stolen goods and dope, and if I had seen Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet at a table it would have fit the scene perfectly.
  Most of the roustabouts were professional thieves, ranging in disciplines. Pickpockets worked the crowds at the shows. Second-story burglars spent the days before the show burglarizing nearby houses, and were seldom caught because the circus usually rolled out of town within a day or two. As a result, you could buy virtually anything in the roustabout’s tent: guns, family photo albums, knives, all kinds of dope, rare coins. But they never stole from each other. That was the rule. Circus people didn’t steal from other circus people.
  Although the roustabout crews included well-educated adventurers and men who were simply down on their luck, a fair number of them bragged that they were on the run for a variety of crimes in different states, and for all of them, circus life was the perfect escape route. It offered a place to sleep, three meals a day and cash money on payday, and no one asked about anything, ever.
  When lunch was called, Jack and I got in line but got out again when neither one of us could name the color of the meat in the sandwiches.
   “Let’s go into town,” Jack said, so we found a railroad track and followed it, theorizing that sooner or later it would lead someplace.
   “I can’t wait to get to New Haven,” he said. “It’s gonna be great. They have parties every night down there. Maybe we can join a fraternity.”
   “I dunno,” I said. You got to study pretty hard. It’s not like high school, and they throw you out if you don’t hit the marks.”
   “Naw,” he said, waving me off. “We’ll be okay.”
   We walked in a comfortable silence for a while, the way friends do, and stopped at a pond where we spent a half-hour throwing rocks into the water. Then we just sat there and watched the white clouds sail across the blue sky.
  “You know,” Jack said, without taking his eyes from a cloud that we had agreed looked like a nuclear explosion, “I don’t even know why I’m going to school.”
  I knew why I was going to school, but I understood what he meant.
  “I mean, like, what else am I gonna do?” he asked. “I don’t want to live at home like some kind of a bum. I can’t find a job, nobody will hire me. But I’m sick and tired of school, you know.”
  He sighed deeply and added, more to himself than to me, “I used to know everything and now I don’t know anything.”
  It’s hard to be an eighteen-year-old boy—you’re a man and not a man. You’re a kid, and not a kid. It’s a difficult time for young men.
  “If I don’t eat something,” I said to a passing cloud that looked like a fried egg, “I’m going to starve of starvation.”
  “Me too,” Jack added. “You know, like, they’ll find us here all dead and everything.”
  “If a train doesn’t run us over they’ll find us.”
  “And I’ll die a virgin,” Jack added from out of nowhere.
  “Get outta here,” I said. “You’re a virgin? For real?”
  “Yeah,” he laughed. “Jack the Zipper I ain’t.”
  “I’m sorry for your troubles,” I said. “But I’m still hungry. You got any money?”
   “No,” he said. “You?”
  “Yeah, but it’s at home and in the bank,” I answered, in those days before ATMs dotted the landscape.
  “We can pull a chew and screw,” he said.
  A “chew and screw” was a high-school prank. Three or four guys drove to a different town, ate at a local sit-down restaurant and bolted for the door before the check came. We found a burger place in a shopping center and ordered and sat silently until the food arrived. We were nervous because we were both fundamentally honest kids, but when the burgers arrived our hunger got the best of us and we ate.  Then we sat there. We didn’t want to do this, to run out on a bill; it seemed unmanly.
  “Well, I guess we gotta do this,” I said.
  “Yeah,” Jack whispered.
  “I can’t do this,” I said.
 “Yeah,” Jack whispered.
  We walked up to the counter and addressed the cook. “Sir,” I said, and he turned and smiled at us. There was a crucifix above the stove and that gave me a little hope that he would be a reasonable man.
  “Look, we ate and we don’t have any money,” I said.
  “We’re with the circus,” Jack added quickly.
  “We can wash dishes to work it off,” I said.
  “Or mop the floor,” Jack added, not helping. “Your floor is filthy.”
  “I’m sure you will,” the man said, still smiling, “right after you get out of the hoosegow,” and he picked up the phone and dialed the police.
  “All right,” I said to Jack. “We tried to be nice.” We grabbed an armful of candies lined up near the register and ran like hell out the door, into oncoming traffic and into the nearby woods, with Jack a few feet behind me and the short-order cook a few feet behind him. He was considerably older than we and after a minute he stopped, placed his palms on his knees and bent over to catch his breath. We made it to the top of a hill about five hundred yards away, dropped our drawers, and mooned him. Out of breath ourselves, but exhilarated, I turned to Jack and said, “Look, I don’t know what’s going in my life, either. I don’t think anybody our age does.” I paused to take in some air. “Let’s go to college in New Haven. If nothing else, we’ll get some real laughs.”
  Jack nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, let’s do that.”

I wrote this bill of rights for foster children several years ago. There many other versions written by other people and almost all of them are worth trying. It's your county. What's happening in foster care in America is being carried out with your money and in your name. You have a right to do something about it. 


As a child, a ward of the government and as an American citizen, you are protected by the people of the United States of America, by our laws, by our courts and by our government.

You should be aware that you have specific rights while you are in foster care. Those rights are as follows:

-You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and to live in dignity and self-respect.

- No one has the right to harm you, to strike you or to commit physical violence upon you. If anyone harms you, strikes you or commits physical violence upon you, you have a right to discuss this abuse with your caseworker, your foster care provider, teachers or police officers. You cannot and will not be punished or harmed further for discussing the abuse with these people.

-You have the right to live in a foster home that is safe, comfortable and healthy.

-You have a right to practice your religion, no matter what that religion might be. You also have a right not to be forced to practice any religion.

-You have the right to attend all court hearings that concern you.

-You have the right to be represented in court by an Attorney. The government will pay the attorney to represent you.

-You have a right to meet with your caseworker at least once a month.

-The information you share with your casework about your placement is confidential. That is, your caseworker is forbidden by law to discuss your conversations beyond people with a need to know.

-You have a right to visit your family. That right cannot not be taken from you and it is illegal to threaten you with taking that right from you.

-You have the right to be placed with a relative as an alternative to foster home care.

-You have a right to live with your siblings, meaning your brothers and sisters.

-You have the right to live in a foster home as opposed to a group home.

-You have a right to participate in any plan for your benefit and future.

-You have the right to be provided with adequate and nourishing food, shelter and clothing.

-You have a right to your own belongings. You have a right to keep any money you have earned or been given.

-You cannot be forced to take medication that has not been prescribed by a doctor and that has the prior approval of your caseworker.

-You have the right to receive confidential phone calls and to have your mail come to you unopened.

-At the proper age, you have the right to participate in an Independent Living Skills Program.

-You have the right to file a complaint about the type of care you are receiving from your caregivers or your caseworker.

-You have the right to prompt medical treatment.

-You have the right to speak to a counselor or therapist if you feel the need.

-You cannot be taken out of foster care without a hearing before the proper authorities.


Kenning (KEN-ing)  noun: A figurative, usually compound, expression used to describe something. For example, whale road for an ocean and oar steed for a ship. From Old Norse kenna (to know). Ultimately from the Indo-European root gno- (to know), which is also the source of know, recognize, acquaint, ignore, diagnosis, notice, normal, prosopagnosia, gnomon, anagnorisis, andagnosia. Earliest documented use: 1320. Kennings were used especially in Old Norse and Old English poetry.

Excerpt from my book “On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film”

  Thanks largely to the efforts of his mother; Elia grew into an energetic and optimistic young man with a genuine care for those around him, an eye for women who found his honesty and sensitivity charming.  To help pay his tuition at Williams College, he waited tables, washed dishes or tended bar at the Greek fraternities who barred him from membership because, oddly enough, he was Greek.
After graduating cum laude, he entered the Yale School of Drama and returned to New York after graduation where he joined the progressive and left leaning Group Theater as an actor and assistant stage manager. At the time, the group was one of the focal points of artistic life and radical thought and activity in New York City. It attracted the best actors and directors, as well as a variety of writers who specialized in the Stanislavsky’s Method form, in which the actor is experiencing internally the emotion he is to emulate onstage, relating the character's feelings to his own experience.  Although Kazan was an eager disciple of the practice, he took on another theory, embodied by the actor Osgood Perkins, in which in acting and film creation, there is no emotion only skill. Unlike many in the art, Kazan understood that while both forms…the psychological and the professional (Technical)…. were strong, if the two forms were combined in the right hands, the result would be magical. And in his hands, it was. That, the emotional and technical, melded together would become his trademark in filmmaking.
Although never even a remotely handsome man, despite his staggering success with woman, Elia considered himself acting material and in the 1930s, talked his way into several small roles in a dozen plays, including Waiting for Lefty (1935) and Golden Boy (1937) by Clifford Odets and The Gentle People by Irwin Shaw (1939)


“All of a sudden I had a family of people that worked in the same way and had the desire to reveal themselves.” Kazan 

 At that time, in the mid to late 1930s, the Group Theater contained a small but influential communist cell that Kazan joined.  At the time, for the practical and overly ambitious Kazan, it probably seemed like a logical move because he saw the tightly knit group of armchair communists as a means to forward and guide his theatrical career.
The Theaters communist cell was made up by the best the group had to offer, and no doubt, exclusivity and snob appeal, always-strong attractions in Kazan’s life, played a larger role in his decision to commit to the party’s ideals then did a radical change in the core values of this rug merchant’s son. In fact, throughout his life, Kazan always made it clear that he was highly dedicated to fat paychecks, dual coastal mansions and the privileges that came with being a card-carrying member of the artistic elite. 
While the Group Theaters Communist group was lofty and idealistic, the national American Communist Party was an authoritarian, iron fisted organization determined to succeed. Controlling the influential Group Theater fit into that goal and the leadership ordered Kazan (and others in his cell) to seize control of the Group. Kazan refused, in part because of his ideals that theater and art were sacred and in part because he was headstrong and simply had a lifelong problem with authority.  He was denounced by the national party, no small thing at the time, and ordered to repent and submit to party authority. He resigned instead and so ended the young man’s foolish 17-month association with the communist party. It was a small, youthful, meaningless side journey in a long and fascinating life that he would pay for in the years to come, very dearly and very deeply.


He became one of the founding members of the Actor's Studio, a place where thespians could grow and develop their craft with the psychological awareness that was increasingly needed for the plays that were dominating Broadway Theater. 
It was here, that Elia began directing more main line, commercial plays winning critical notice for his energetic delivery of the popular comedy, Cafe Crown.  More success came with The Skin of Our Teeth, with Tallulah Bankhead, Florence Eldridge, Frederic March and Montgomery Clift.  The play was a huge box-office hit, won a Pulitzer Prize and brought Kazan his first New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for direction.
 After "The Skin of Our Teeth, he became a major force on Broadway through his collaborations with Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams.  His strong direction of two of Miller’s plays, All My Sons, and Streetcar Named Desire, established Kazan as Broadway's preeminent director and made a star of 23-year-old Marlon Brando who was largely a Kazan discovery.   He followed these successes with another powerful theatrical milestone, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, with Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman.
 Having conquered the stage, he turned his considerable talents to the silver screen as a director. (His first work was a forgettable film called The People of Cumberland).  Occasionally, in his salad days,  
Kazan employed himself from time to time as actor, first with a bit role as a character named Googi Zucco in the  1940 Cagney film City for Conquest and then Blues in the Night (1941) as a bit character named Nickie Haroyen.  Kazan had also taken a role in the 1935 independent film short called Pie in the sky made by the left wing Public Theater during the depression.   
His first major film as a director, in 1945, was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a tale about a working class Irish family coping with poverty and an alcoholic father.  (Kazan had attended Yale with Betty Smith, the books author.)  The film won James Dunn an Academy Award as best supporting actor.  
He followed with Gentleman's Agreement, starring Gregory Peck,  which won Kazan an Oscar, beating out George Cukor (A Double Life), David Lean (Great Expectations), Henry Koster (The Bishop's Wife), and Edward Dmytryk (Crossfire).  Gentleman’s Agreement was a creation of Fox Studios boss Daryl Zanuck, one of the first films to deal with the subject of anti-Semitism.  Zanuck, who was not Jewish, admitted to having commissioned the film over his deep regret for making the remarkably racist Ham and Eggs at the Front (1927) with Myrna Loy who was also disgusted with herself for being aligned to the project.
 The film was a major project for the young Kazan and gave him a chance to work with Gregory Peck, who was given the lead in the film over John Garfield who wanted the lead so badly he offered to change his stage name, John Garfield, to his given name, Julius Garfinkle.  However, the studio bosses, who were largely Jewish, campaigned against making the film, preferring to leave the subject alone.  Instead, Garfield took a supporting role in the film at a leading star salary.  Kazan later added a scene in the film that reflects Zanuck’s woes with the other studio bosses over creating the film. The movie was the top grossing film of the year and opened to wide critical success.   Based on the box office success of those works, other films followed including Boomerang, a 1947 thriller about small-town corruption starring Dana Andrews, Lee J. Cobb, and Karl Malden.  That same year he directed Sea of Grass, a horse and cowboy opera with major stars Tracy and Hepburn. This was followed by "Pinky"(1949) dealing with racism and miscegenation and was yet another atonement film by Zanuck, whom despite the best of intentions, turned down the light skinned African American Actress/ singer Lena Horn for the role of a white women.  (Horn filmed much lighter than she actually was and probably could have carried the part)  Zanuck felt that America was not ready for a Black actor in a lead role that involved several love scenes with a white actor.  
The film did moderately well at the box office and Fox gave Kazan

Panic in the Streets (1951), with stars Richard Widmark, Jack Palance, and Zero Mostel in a taut drama about a manhunt in New Orleans to find the carrier of a plague.  Also in the film are Waterfront’s Tiger Joe Marsh and Kazan who hired himself for a small role in the film as a mortuary assistant. 

Sculpture this and Sculpture that


 m.k spaceman



My Dad's Wallet
Raymond Carver

Long before he thought of his own death,
my dad said he wanted to lie close
to his parents. He missed them so
after they went away.
He said this enough that my mother remembered,
and I remembered. But when the breath
left his lungs and all signs of life
had faded, he found himself in a town
512 miles away from where he wanted most to be.

My dad, though. He was restless
even in death. Even in death
he had this one last trip to take.
All his life he liked to wander,
and now he had one more place to get to.

The undertaker said he'd arrange it,
not to worry. Some poor light
from the window fell on the dusty floor
where we waited that afternoon
until the man came out of the back room
and peeled off his rubber gloves.
He carried the smell of formaldehyde with him.
He was a big man, this undertaker said.
Then began to tell us why
he liked living in his small town.
This man who'd just opened my dad's veins.
How much is it going to cost? I said.

He took out his pad and pen and began
to write. First, the preparation chares.
Then he figured the transportation
of the remains at 22 cents a mile.
But this was a round-trip for the undertaker,
don't forget. Plus, say, six meals
and two nights in a motel. He figured
some more. Add a surcharge of
$210 for his time and trouble,
and there you have it.

He thought we might argue.
There was a spot of color on
each of his cheeks as he looked up
from his figures. The same poor light
fell in the same poor place on
the dusty floor. My mother nodded
as if she understood. But she
hadn't understood a word of it.
None of it had made any sense to her,
beginning with the time she left home
with my dad. She only knew
that whatever was happening
was going to take money.
She reached into her purse and brought up
my dad's wallet. The three of us
in that little room that afternoon.
Our breath coming and going.

We stared at the wallet for a minute.
Nobody said anything.
All the life had gone out of that wallet.
It was old and rent and soiled.
But it was my dad's wallet. And she opened
it and looked inside. Drew out
a handful of money that would go
toward this last, most astounding, trip

Raymond Carver, The Art of Fiction No. 76
Interviewed by Mona Simpson, Lewis Buzbee
The Paris Review 1988

Raymond Carver lives in a large, two-story, wood-shingled house on a quiet street in Syracuse, New York. The front lawn slopes down to the sidewalk. A new Mercedes sits in the driveway. An older VW, the other household car, gets parked on the street.
The entrance to the house is through a large, screened-in porch. Inside, the furnishings are almost without character. Everything matches—cream-colored couches, a glass coffee table. Tess Gallagher, the writer with whom Raymond Carver lives, collects peacock feathers and sets them in vases throughout the house—the most noticeable decorative attempt. Our suspicions were confirmed; Carver told us that all the furniture was purchased and delivered in one day.
Gallagher has painted a detachable wood No Visitors sign, the lettering surrounded by yellow and orange eyelashes, which hangs on the screen door. Sometimes the phone is unplugged and the sign stays up for days at a time.
Carver works in a large room on the top floor. The surface of the long oak desk is clear; his typewriter is set to the side, on an L-shaped wing. There are no knicknacks, charms, or toys of any kind on Carver's desk. He is not a collector or a man prone to mementos and nostalgia. Occasionally, one manila folder lies on the oak desk, containing the story currently in the process of revision. His files are well in order. He can extract a story and all its previous versions at a moment's notice. The walls of the study are painted white like the rest of the house, and, like the rest of the house, they are mostly bare. Through a high rectangular window above Carver's desk, light filters into the room in slanted beams, like light from high church windows.
Carver is a large man who wears simple clothes—flannel shirts, khakis or jeans. He seems to live and dress as the characters in his stories live and dress. For someone of his size, he has a remarkably low and indistinct voice; we found ourselves bending closer every few minutes to catch his words and asking the irritating “What, what?”
Portions of the interview were conducted through the mail, during 1981–1982. When we met Carver, the No Visitors sign was not up and several Syracuse students dropped by to visit during the course of the interview, including Carver's son, a senior. For lunch, Carver made us sandwiches with salmon he had caught off the coast of Washington. Both he and Gallagher are from Washington state and at the time of the interview, they were having a house built in Port Angeles, where they plan to live part of each year. We asked Carver if that house would feel more like a home to him. He replied, “No, wherever I am is fine. This is fine.”

What was your early life like, and what made you want to write?

I grew up in a small town in eastern Washington, a place called Yakima. My dad worked at the sawmill there. He was a saw filer and helped take care of the saws that were used to cut and plane the logs. My mother worked as a retail clerk or a waitress or else stayed at home, but she didn't keep any job for very long. I remember talk concerning her “nerves.” In the cabinet under the kitchen sink, she kept a bottle of patent “nerve medicine,” and she'd take a couple of tablespoons of this every morning. My dad's nerve medicine was whiskey. Most often he kept a bottle of it under that same sink, or else outside in the woodshed. I remember sneaking a taste of it once and hating it, and wondering how anybody could drink the stuff. Home was a little two-bedroom house. We moved a lot when I was a kid, but it was always into another little two-bedroom house. The first house I can remember living in, near the fairgrounds in Yakima, had an outdoor toilet. This was in the late 1940s. I was eight or ten years old then. I used to wait at the bus stop for my dad to come home from work. Usually he was as regular as clockwork. But every two weeks or so, he wouldn't be on the bus. I'd stick around then and wait for the next bus, but I already knew he wasn't going to be on that one, either. When this happened, it meant he'd gone drinking with friends of his from the sawmill. I still remember the sense of doom and hopelessness that hung over the supper table when my mother and I and my kid brother sat down to eat.

But what made you want to write?

The only explanation I can give you is that my dad told me lots of stories about himself when he was a kid, and about his dad and his grandfather. His grandfather had fought in the Civil War. He fought for both sides! He was a turncoat. When the South began losing the war, he crossed over to the North and began fighting for the Union forces. My dad laughed when he told this story. He didn't see anything wrong with it, and I guess I didn't either. Anyway, my dad would tell me stories, anecdotes really, no moral to them, about tramping around in the woods, or else riding the rails and having to look out for railroad bulls. I loved his company and loved to listen to him tell me these stories. Once in a while he'd read something to me from what he was reading. Zane Grey westerns. These were the first real hardback books, outside of grade-school texts, and the Bible, that I'd ever seen. It wouldn't happen very often, but now and again I'd see him lying on the bed of an evening and reading from Zane Grey. It seemed a very private act in a house and family that were not given to privacy. I realized that he had this private side to him, something I didn't understand or know anything about, but something that found expression through this occasional reading. I was interested in that side of him and interested in the act itself. I'd ask him to read me what he was reading, and he'd oblige by just reading from wherever he happened to be in the book. After a while he'd say, “Junior, go do something else now.” Well, there were plenty of things to do. In those days, I went fishing in this creek that was not too far from our house. A little later, I started hunting ducks and geese and upland game. That's what excited me in those days, hunting and fishing. That's what made a dent in my emotional life, and that's what I wanted to write about. My reading fare in those days, aside from an occasional historical novel or Mickey Spillane mystery, consisted of Sports Afield and Outdoor Life, and Field & Stream. I wrote a longish thing about the fish that got away, or the fish I caught, one or the other, and asked my mother if she would type it up for me. She couldn't type, but she did go rent a typewriter, bless her heart, and between the two of us, we typed it up in some terrible fashion and sent it out. I remember there were two addresses on the masthead of the outdoors magazine; so we sent it to the office closest to us, to Boulder, Colorado, the circulation department. The piece came back, finally, but that was fine. It had gone out in the world, that manuscript—it had been places. Somebody had read it besides my mother, or so I hoped anyway. Then I saw an ad in Writer's Digest. It was a photograph of a man, a successful author, obviously, testifying to something called the Palmer Institute of Authorship. That seemed like just the thing for me. There was a monthly payment plan involved. Twenty dollars down, ten or fifteen dollars a month for three years or thirty years, one of those things. There were weekly assignments with personal responses to the assignments. I stayed with it for a few months. Then, maybe I got bored; I stopped doing the work. My folks stopped making the payments. Pretty soon a letter arrived from the Palmer Institute telling me that if I paid them up in full, I could still get the certificate of completion. This seemed more than fair. Somehow I talked my folks into paying the rest of the money, and in due time I got the certificate and hung it up on my bedroom wall. But all through high school it was assumed that I'd graduate and go to work at the sawmill. For a long time I wanted to do the kind of work my dad did. He was going to ask his foreman at the mill to put me on after I graduated. So I worked at the mill for about six months. But I hated the work and knew from the first day I didn't want to do that for the rest of my life. I worked long enough to save the money for a car, buy some clothes, and so I could move out and get married.

Somehow, for whatever reasons, you went to college. Was it your wife who wanted you to go on to college? Did she encourage you in this respect? Did she want to go to college and that made you want to go? How old were you at this point? She must have been pretty young, too.

I was eighteen. She was sixteen and pregnant and had just graduated from an Episcopalian private school for girls in Walla Walla, Washington. At school she'd learned the right way to hold a teacup; she'd had religious instruction and gym and such, but she also learned about physics and literature and foreign languages. I was terrifically impressed that she knew Latin. Latin! She tried off and on to go to college during those first years, but it was too hard to do that; it was impossible to do that and raise a family and be broke all the time, too. I mean broke. Her family didn't have any money. She was going to that school on a scholarship. Her mother hated me and still does. My wife was supposed to graduate and go on to the University of Washington to study law on a fellowship. Instead, I made her pregnant, and we got married and began our life together. She was seventeen when the first child was born, eighteen when the second was born. What shall I say at this point? We didn't have any youth. We found ourselves in roles we didn't know how to play. But we did the best we could. Better than that, I want to think. She did finish college finally. She got her B.A. degree at San Jose State twelve or fourteen years after we married.

Were you writing during these early, difficult years?

I worked nights and went to school days. We were always working. She was working and trying to raise the kids and manage a household. She worked for the telephone company. The kids were with a babysitter during the day. Finally, I graduated with the B.A. degree from Humboldt State College and we put everything into the car and in one of those carryalls that fits on top of your car, and we went to Iowa City. A teacher named Dick Day at Humboldt State had told me about the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Day had sent along a story of mine and three or four poems to Don Justice, who was responsible for getting me a five-hundred-dollar grant at Iowa.

Five hundred dollars?

That's all they had, they said. It seemed like a lot at the time. But I didn't finish at Iowa. They offered me more money to stay on the second year, but we just couldn't do it. I was working in the library for a dollar or two an hour, and my wife was working as a waitress. It was going to take me another year to get a degree, and we just couldn't stick it out. So we moved back to California. This time it was Sacramento. I found work as a night janitor at Mercy Hospital. I kept the job for three years. It was a pretty good job. I only had to work two or three hours a night, but I was paid for eight hours. There was a certain amount of work that had to get done, but once it was done, that was it—I could go home or do anything I wanted. The first year or two I went home every night and would be in bed at a reasonable hour and be able to get up in the morning and write. The kids would be off at the babysitter's and my wife would have gone to her job—a door-to-door sales job. I'd have all day in front of me. This was fine for a while. Then I began getting off work at night and going drinking instead of going home. By this time it was 1967 or 1968.

When did you first get published?

When I was an undergraduate at Humboldt State in Arcata, California. One day, I had a short story taken at one magazine and a poem taken at another. It was a terrific day! Maybe one of the best days ever. My wife and I drove around town and showed the letters of acceptance to all of our friends. It gave some much-needed validation to our lives.

What was the first story you ever published? And the first poem?

It was a story called “Pastoral” and it was published in the Western Humanities Review. It's a good literary magazine and it's still being published by the University of Utah. They didn't pay me anything for the story, but that didn't matter. The poem was called “The Brass Ring,” and it was published by a magazine in Arizona, now defunct, called Targets. Charles Bukowski had a poem in the same issue, and I was pleased to be in the same magazine with him. He was a kind of hero to me then.

Is it true—a friend of yours told me this— that you celebrated your first publication by taking the magazine to bed with you?

That's partly true. Actually, it was a book, the Best American Short Storiesannual. My story “Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?” had just appeared in the collection. That was back in the late sixties, when it was edited every year by Martha Foley and people used to call it that—simply, “The Foley Collection.” The story had been published in an obscure little magazine out of Chicago called December. The day the anthology came in the mail I took it to bed to read and just to look at, you know, and hold it, but I did more looking and holding than actual reading. I fell asleep and woke up the next morning with the book there in bed beside me, along with my wife.

In an article you did for The New York Times Book Review you mentioned a story “too tedious to talk about here”—about why you choose to write short stories over novels. Do you want to go into that story now?

The story that was “too tedious to talk about” has to do with a number of things that aren't very pleasant to talk about. I did finally talk about some of these things in the essay “Fires,” which was published in Antaeus. In it I said that finally, a writer is judged by what he writes, and that's the way it should be. The circumstances surrounding the writing are something else, something extraliterary. Nobody ever asked me to be a writer. But it was tough to stay alive and pay bills and put food on the table and at the same time to think of myself as a writer and to learn to write. After years of working crap jobs and raising kids and trying to write, I realized I needed to write things I could finish and be done with in a hurry. There was no way I could undertake a novel, a two- or three-year stretch of work on a single project. I needed to write something I could get some kind of a payoff from immediately, not next year, or three years from now. Hence, poems and stories. I was beginning to see that my life was not—let's say it was not what I wanted it to be. There was always a wagonload of frustration to deal with—wanting to write and not being able to find the time or the place for it. I used to go out and sit in the car and try to write something on a pad on my knee. This was when the kids were in their adolescence. I was in my late twenties or early thirties. We were still in a state of penury, we had one bankruptcy behind us, and years of hard work with nothing to show for it except an old car, a rented house, and new creditors on our backs. It was depressing, and I felt spiritually obliterated. Alcohol became a problem. I more or less gave up, threw in the towel, and took to full-time drinking as a serious pursuit. That's part of what I was talking about when I was talking about things “too tedious to talk about.”

Could you talk a little more about the drinking? So many writers, even if they're not alcoholics, drink so much.

Probably not a whole lot more than any other group of professionals. You'd be surprised. Of course there's a mythology that goes along with the drinking, but I was never into that. I was into the drinking itself. I suppose I began to drink heavily after I'd realized that the things I'd wanted most in life for myself and my writing, and my wife and children, were simply not going to happen. It's strange. You never start out in life with the intention of becoming a bankrupt or an alcoholic or a cheat and a thief. Or a liar.

And you were all those things?

I was. I'm not any longer. Oh, I lie a little from time to time, like everyone else.

How long since you quit drinking?

June second, 1977. If you want the truth, I'm prouder of that, that I've quit drinking, than I am of anything in my life. I'm a recovered alcoholic. I'll always be an alcoholic, but I'm no longer a practicing alcoholic.

How bad did the drinking get?

It's very painful to think about some of the things that happened back then. I made a wasteland out of everything I touched. But I might add that towards the end of the drinking there wasn't much left anyway. But specific things? Let's just say, on occasion, the police were involved and emergency rooms and courtrooms.

How did you stop? What made you able to stop?

The last year of my drinking, 1977, I was in a recovery center twice, as well as one hospital; and I spent a few days in a place called DeWitt near San Jose, California. DeWitt used to be, appropriately enough, a hospital for the criminally insane. Toward the end of my drinking career I was completely out of control and in a very grave place. Blackouts, the whole business—points where you can't remember anything you say or do during a certain period of time. You might drive a car, give a reading, teach a class, set a broken leg, go to bed with someone, and not have any memory of it later. You're on some kind of automatic pilot. I have an image of myself sitting in my living room with a glass of whiskey in my hand and my head bandaged from a fall caused by an alcoholic seizure. Crazy! Two weeks later I was back in a recovery center, this time at a place called Duffy's, in Calistoga, California, up in the wine country. I was at Duffy's on two different occasions; in the place called DeWitt, in San Jose; and in a hospital in San Francisco—all in the space of twelve months. I guess that's pretty bad. I was dying from it, plain and simple, and I'm not exaggerating.

What brought you to the point where you could stop drinking for good?

It was late May 1977. I was living by myself in a house in a little town in northern California, and I'd been sober for about three weeks. I drove to San Francisco, where they were having this publishers' convention. Fred Hills, at that time editor in chief at McGraw-Hill, wanted to take me to lunch and offer me money to write a novel. But a couple of nights before the lunch, one of my friends had a party. Midway through, I picked up a glass of wine and drank it, and that's the last thing I remember. Blackout time. The next morning when the stores opened, I was waiting to buy a bottle. The dinner that night was a disaster; it was terrible, people quarreling and disappearing from the table. And the next morning I had to get up and go have this lunch with Fred Hills. I was so hungover when I woke up I could hardly hold my head up. But I drank a half pint of vodka before I picked up Hills and that helped, for the short run. And then he wanted to drive over to Sausalito for lunch! That took us at least an hour in heavy traffic, and I was drunk and hungover both, you understand. But for some reason he went ahead and offered me this money to write a novel.

Did you ever write the novel?

Not yet! Anyway, I managed to get out of San Francisco back up to where I lived. I stayed drunk for a couple more days. And then I woke up, feeling terrible, but I didn't drink anything that morning. Nothing alcoholic, I mean. I felt terrible physically—mentally, too, of course—but I didn't drink anything. I didn't drink for three days, and when the third day had passed, I began to feel some better. Then I just kept not drinking. Gradually I began to put a little distance between myself and the booze. A week. Two weeks. Suddenly it was a month. I'd been sober for a month, and I was slowly starting to get well.

Did AA help?

It helped a lot. I went to at least one and sometimes two meetings a day for the first month.

Did you ever feel that alcohol was in any way an inspiration? I'm thinking of your poem “Vodka,” published in Esquire.

My God, no! I hope I've made that clear. Cheever remarked that he could always recognize “an alcoholic line” in a writer's work. I'm not exactly sure what he meant by this but I think I know. When we were teaching in the Iowa Writers' Workshop in the fall semester of 1973, he and I did nothing but drink. I mean we met our classes, in a manner of speaking. But the entire time we were there—we were living in this hotel they have on campus, the Iowa House—I don't think either of us ever took the covers off our typewriters. We made trips to a liquor store twice a week in my car.

To stock up?

Yes, stock up. But the store didn't open until 10:00 a.m. Once we planned an early morning run, a ten o'clock run, and we were going to meet in the lobby of the hotel. I came down early to get some cigarettes and John was pacing up and down in the lobby. He was wearing loafers, but he didn't have any socks on. Anyway, we headed out a little early. By the time we got to the liquor store the clerk was just unlocking the front door. On this particular morning, John got out of the car before I could get it properly parked. By the time I got inside the store he was already at the checkout stand with a half gallon of Scotch. He lived on the fourth floor of the hotel and I lived on the second. Our rooms were identical, right down to the same reproduction of the same painting hanging on the wall. But when we drank together, we always drank in his room. He said he was afraid to come down to drink on the second floor. He said there was always a chance of him getting mugged in the hallway! But you know, of course, that fortunately, not too long after Cheever left Iowa City, he went to a treatment center and got sober and stayed sober until he died.

Do you feel the spoken confessions at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings have influenced your writing?

There are different kinds of meetings—speaker meetings where just one speaker will get up and talk for fifty minutes or so about what it was like then, and maybe what it's like now. And there are meetings where everyone in the room has a chance to say something. But I can't honestly say I've ever consciously or otherwise patterned any of my stories on things I've heard at the meetings.

Where do your stories come from, then? I'm especially asking about the stories that have something to do with drinking.

The fiction I'm most interested in has lines of reference to the real world. None of my stories really happened, of course. But there's always something, some element, something said to me or that I witnessed, that may be the starting place. Here's an example: “That's the last Christmas you'll ever ruin for us!” I was drunk when I heard that, but I remembered it. And later, much later, when I was sober, using only that one line and other things I imagined, imagined so accurately that they couldhave happened, I made a story—“A Serious Talk.” But the fiction I'm most interested in, whether it's Tolstoy's fiction, Chekhov, Barry Hannah, Richard Ford, Hemingway, Isaac Babel, Ann Beattie, or Anne Tyler, strikes me as autobiographical to some extent. At the very least it's referential. Stories long or short don't just come out of thin air. I'm reminded of a conversation involving John Cheever. We were sitting around a table in Iowa City with some people and he happened to remark that after a family fracas at his home one night, he got up the next morning and went into the bathroom to find something his daughter had written in lipstick on the bathroom mirror: “D-e-r-e daddy, don't leave us.” Someone at the table spoke up and said, “I recognize that from one of your stories.” Cheever said, “Probably so. Everything I write is autobiographical.” Now of course that's not literally true. But everything we write is, in some way, autobiographical. I'm not in the least bothered by “autobiographical” fiction. To the contrary. On the Road. Céline. Roth. Lawrence Durrell in The Alexandria Quartet. So much of Hemingway in the Nick Adams stories. Updike, too, you bet. Jim McConkey. Clark Blaise is a contemporary writer whose fiction is out-and-out autobiography. Of course, you have to know what you're doing when you turn your life's stories into fiction. You have to be immensely daring, very skilled and imaginative and willing to tell everything on yourself. You're told time and again when you're young to write about what you know, and what do you know better than your own secrets? But unless you're a special kind of writer, and a very talented one, it's dangerous to try and write volume after volume on The Story of My Life. A great danger, or at least a great temptation, for many writers is to become too autobiographical in their approach to their fiction. A little autobiography and a lot of imagination are best.

Are your characters trying to do what matters?

I think they are trying. But trying and succeeding are two different matters. In some lives, people always succeed; and I think it's grand when that happens. In other lives, people don't succeed at what they try to do, at the things they want most to do, the large or small things that support the life. These lives are, of course, valid to write about, the lives of the people who don't succeed. Most of my own experience, direct or indirect, has to do with the latter situation. I think most of my characters would like their actions to count for something. But at the same time they've reached the point—as so many people do—that they know it isn't so. It doesn't add up any longer. The things you once thought important or even worth dying for aren't worth a nickel now. It's their lives they've become uncomfortable with, lives they see breaking down. They'd like to set things right, but they can't. And usually they do know it, I think, and after that they just do the best they can.

Could you say something about one of my favorite stories in your most recent collection? Where did the idea for “Why Don't You Dance?” originate?

I was visiting some writer friends in Missoula back in the mid-1970s. We were all sitting around drinking and someone told a story about a barmaid named Linda who got drunk with her boyfriend one night and decided to move all of her bedroom furnishings into the backyard. They did it, too, right down to the carpet and the bedroom lamp, the bed, the nightstand, everything. There were about four or five writers in the room, and after the guy finished telling the story, someone said, “Well, who's going to write it?” I don't know who else might have written it, but I wrote it. Not then, but later. About four or five years later, I think. I changed and added things to it, of course. Actually, it was the first story I wrote after I finally stopped drinking.

What are your writing habits like? Are you always working on a story?

When I'm writing, I write every day. It's lovely when that's happening. One day dovetailing into the next. Sometimes I don't even know what day of the week it is. The “paddle-wheel of days,” John Ashbery has called it. When I'm not writing, like now, when I'm tied up with teaching duties as I have been the last while, it's as if I've never written a word or had any desire to write. I fall into bad habits. I stay up too late and sleep in too long. But it's okay. I've learned to be patient and to bide my time. I had to learn that a long time ago. Patience. If I believed in signs, I suppose my sign would be the sign of the turtle. I write in fits and starts. But when I'm writing, I put in a lot of hours at the desk, ten or twelve or fifteen hours at a stretch, day after day. I love that, when that's happening. Much of this work time, understand, is given over to revising and rewriting. There's not much that I like better than to take a story that I've had around the house for a while and work it over again. It's the same with the poems I write. I'm in no hurry to send something off just after I write it, and I sometimes keep it around the house for months doing this or that to it, taking this out and putting that in. It doesn't take that long to do the first draft of the story, that usually happens in one sitting, but it does take a while to do the various versions of the story. I've done as many as twenty or thirty drafts of a story. Never less than ten or twelve drafts. It's instructive, and heartening both, to look at the early drafts of great writers. I'm thinking of the photographs of galleys belonging to Tolstoy, to name one writer who loved to revise. I mean, I don't know if he loved it or not, but he did a great deal of it. He was always revising, right down to the time of page proofs. He went through and rewrote War and Peace eight times and was still making corrections in the galleys. Things like this should hearten every writer whose first drafts are dreadful, like mine are.

Describe what happens when you write a story.

I write the first draft quickly, as I said. This is most often done in longhand. I simply fill up the pages as rapidly as I can. In some cases, there's a kind of personal shorthand, notes to myself for what I will do later when I come back to it. Some scenes I have to leave unfinished, unwritten in some cases; the scenes that will require meticulous care later. I mean all of it requires meticulous care—but some scenes I save until the second or third draft, because to do them and do them right would take too much time on the first draft. With the first draft it's a question of getting down the outline, the scaffolding of the story. Then on subsequent revisions I'll see to the rest of it. When I've finished the longhand draft I'll type a version of the story and go from there. It always looks different to me, better, of course, after it's typed up. When I'm typing the first draft, I'll begin to rewrite and add and delete a little then. The real work comes later, after I've done three or four drafts of the story. It's the same with the poems, only the poems may go through forty or fifty drafts. Donald Hall told me he sometimes writes a hundred or so drafts of his poems. Can you imagine?

Has your way of working changed?

The stories in What We Talk About are different to an extent. For one thing, it's a much more self-conscious book in the sense of how intentional every move was, how calculated. I pushed and pulled and worked with those stories before they went into the book to an extent I'd never done with any other stories. When the book was put together and in the hands of my publisher, I didn't write anything at all for six months. And then the first story I wrote was “Cathedral,” which I feel is totally different in conception and execution from any stories that have come before. I suppose it reflects a change in my life as much as it does in my way of writing. When I wrote “Cathedral” I experienced this rush and I felt, “This is what it's all about, this is the reason we do this.” It was different than the stories that had come before. There was an opening up when I wrote the story. I knew I'd gone as far the other way as I could or wanted to go, cutting everything down to the marrow, not just to the bone. Any farther in that direction and I'd be at a dead end—writing stuff and publishing stuff I wouldn't want to read myself, and that's the truth. In a review of the last book, somebody called me a “minimalist” writer. The reviewer meant it as a compliment. But I didn't like it. There's something about “minimalist” that smacks of smallness of vision and execution that I don't like. But all of the stories in the new book, the one called Cathedral, were written within an eighteen-month period; and in every one of them I feel this difference.

Do you have any sense of an audience? Updike described his ideal reader as a young boy in a small Midwestern town finding one of his books on a library shelf.

It's nice to think of Updike's idealized reader. But except for the early stories, I don't think it's a young boy in a small Midwestern town who's reading Updike. What would this young boy make of The Centaur or Couples or Rabbit Redux orThe Coup? I think Updike is writing for the audience that John Cheever said he was writing for, “intelligent, adult men and women,” wherever they live. Any writer worth his salt writes as well and as truly as he can and hopes for as large and perceptive a readership as possible. So you write as well as you can and hope for good readers. But I think you're also writing for other writers to an extent—the dead writers whose work you admire, as well as the living writers you like to read. If they like it, the other writers, there's a good chance other “intelligent, adult men and women” may like it, too. But I don't have that boy you mentioned in mind, or anyone else for that matter, when I'm doing the writing itself.

How much of what you write do you finally throw away?

Lots. If the first draft of the story is forty pages long, it'll usually be half that by the time I'm finished with it. And it's not just a question of taking out or bringing it down. I take out a lot, but I also add things and then add some more and take out some more. It's something I love to do, putting words in and taking words out.

Has the process of revision changed now that the stories seem to be longer and more generous?

Generous, yes, that's a good word for them. Yes, and I'll tell you why. Up at school there's a typist who has one of those space-age typewriters, a word processor, and I can give her a story to type and once she has it typed and I get back the fair copy, I can mark it up to my heart's content and give it back to her; and the next day I can have my story back, all fair copy once more. Then I can mark it up again as much as I want, and the next day I'll have back a fair copy once more. I love it. It may seem like a small thing, really, but it's changed my life, that woman and her word processor.

Did you ever have any time off from not having to earn a living?

I had a year once. It was a very important year for me, too. I wrote most of the stories in Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? in that year. It was back in 1970 or 1971. I was working for this textbook publishing firm in Palo Alto. It was my first white-collar job, right after the period when I'd been a janitor at the hospital in Sacramento. I'd been working away there quietly as an editor when the company, it was called SRA, decided to do a major reorganization. I planned to quit, I was writing my letter of resignation, but then suddenly—I was fired. It was just wonderful the way it turned out. We invited all of our friends that weekend and had a firing party! For a year I didn't have to work. I drew unemployment and had my severance pay to live on. And that's the period when my wife finished her college degree. That was a turning point, that time. It was a good period.

Are you religious?

No, but I have to believe in miracles and the possibility of resurrection. No question about that. Every day that I wake up, I'm glad to wake up. That's why I like to wake up early. In my drinking days I would sleep until noon or whatever and I would usually wake up with the shakes.

Do you regret a lot of things that happened back then when things were so bad?

I can't change anything now. I can't afford to regret. That life is simply gone now, and I can't regret its passing. I have to live in the present. The life back then is gone just as surely—it's as remote to me as if it had happened to somebody I read about in a nineteenth-century novel. I don't spend more than five minutes a month in the past. The past really is a foreign country, and they do do things differently there. Things happen. I really do feel I've had two different lives.

Can you talk a little about literary influences, or at least name some writers whose work you greatly admire?

Ernest Hemingway is one. The early stories. “Big Two-Hearted River,” “Cat in the Rain,” “The Three-Day Blow,” “Soldier's Home,” lots more. Chekhov. I suppose he's the writer whose work I most admire. But who doesn't like Chekhov? I'm talking about his stories now, not the plays. His plays move too slowly for me. Tolstoy. Any of his short stories, novellas, and Anna Karenina. Not War and Peace. Too slow. But The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Master and Man, “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” Tolstoy is the best there is. Isaac Babel, Flannery O'Connor, Frank O'Connor. James Joyce's Dubliners. John Cheever. Madame Bovary. Last year I reread that book, along with a new translation of Flaubert's letters written while he was composing—no other word for it—Madame Bovary. Conrad. Updike's Too Far to Go. And there are wonderful writers I've come across in the last year or two like Tobias Wolff. His book of stories In the Garden of the North American Martyrs is just wonderful. Max Schott. Bobbie Ann Mason. Did I mention her? Well, she's good and worth mentioning twice. Harold Pinter. V. S. Pritchett. Years ago I read something in a letter by Chekhov that impressed me. It was a piece of advice to one of his many correspondents, and it went something like this: Friend, you don't have to write about extraordinary people who accomplish extraordinary and memorable deeds. (Understand I was in college at the time and reading plays about princes and dukes and the overthrow of kingdoms. Quests and the like, large undertakings to establish heroes in their rightful places. Novels with larger-than-life heroes.) But reading what Chekhov had to say in that letter, and in other letters of his as well, and reading his stories, made me see things differently than I had before. Not long afterwards I read a play and a number of stories by Maxim Gorky, and he simply reinforced in his work what Chekhov had to say. Richard Ford is another fine writer. He's primarily a novelist, but he's also written stories and essays. He's a friend. I have a lot of friends who are good friends, and some of them are good writers. Some not so good.

What do you do in that case? I mean, how do you handle that—if one of your friends 
publishes something you don't like?

I don't say anything unless the friend asks me, and I hope he doesn't. But if you're asked you have to say it in a way that it doesn't wreck the friendship. You want your friends to do well and write the best they can. But sometimes their work is a disappointment. You want everything to go well for them, but you have this dread that maybe it won't and there's not much you can do.

What do you think of moral fiction? I guess this has to lead into talk about John Gardner and his influence on you. I know you were his student many years ago at Humboldt State College.

That's true. I've written about our relationship in the Antaeus piece and elaborated on it more in my introduction to a posthumous book of his called On Becoming a Novelist. I think On Moral Fiction is a wonderfully smart book. I don't agree with all of it, by any means, but generally he's right. Not so much in his assessments of living writers as in the aims, the aspirations of the book. It's a book that wants to affirm life rather than trash it. Gardner's definition of morality is life affirming. And in that regard he believes good fiction is moral fiction. It's a book to argue with, if you like to argue. It's brilliant, in any case. I think he may argue his case even better in On Becoming a Novelist. And he doesn't go after other writers as he did in On Moral Fiction. We had been out of touch with each other for years when he published On Moral Fiction, but his influence, the things he stood for in my life when I was his student, were still so strong that for a long while I didn't want to read the book. I was afraid to find out that what I'd been writing all these years was immoral! You understand that we'd not seen each other for nearly twenty years and had only renewed our friendship after I'd moved to Syracuse and he was down there at Binghamton, seventy miles away. There was a lot of anger directed toward Gardner and the book when it was published. He touched nerves. I happen to think it's a remarkable piece of work.

But after you read the book, what did you think then about your own work? Were you writing “moral” or “immoral” stories?

I'm still not sure! But I heard from other people, and then he told me himself, that he liked my work. Especially the new work. That pleases me a great deal. ReadOn Becoming a Novelist.

Do you still write poetry?

Some, but not enough. I want to write more. If too long a period of time goes by, six months or so, I get nervous if I haven't written any poems. I find myself wondering if I've stopped being a poet or stopped being able to write poetry. It's usually then that I sit down and try to write some poems. This book of mine that's coming in the spring, Fires—that's got all of the poems of mine I want to keep.

How do they influence each other? The writing of fiction and the writing of poetry?

They don't any longer. For a long time I was equally interested in the writing of poetry and the writing of fiction. In magazines I always turned to the poems first before I read the stories. Finally, I had to make a choice, and I came down on the side of the fiction. It was the right choice for me. I'm not a “born” poet. I don't know if I'm a “born” anything except a white American male. Maybe I'll become an occasional poet. But I'll settle for that. That's better than not being any kind of poet at all.

How has fame changed you?

I feel uncomfortable with that word. You see, I started out with such low expectations in the first place—I mean, how far are you going to get in this life writing short stories? And I didn't have much self-esteem as a result of this drinking thing. So it's a continual amazement to me, this attention that's come along. But I can tell you that after the reception for What We Talk About, I felt a confidence that I've never felt before. Every good thing that's happened since has conjoined to make me want to do even more and better work. It's been a good spur. And all this is coming at a time in my life when I have more strength than I've ever had before. Do you know what I'm saying? I feel stronger and more certain of my direction now than ever before. So “fame”—or let's say this newfound attention and interest—has been a good thing. It bolstered my confidence, when my confidence needed bolstering.

Who reads your writing first?

Tess Gallagher. As you know, she's a poet and short-story writer herself. I show her everything I write except for letters, and I've even shown her a few of those. But she has a wonderful eye and a way of feeling herself into what I write. I don't show her anything until I've marked it up and taken it as far as I can. That's usually the fourth or fifth draft, and then she reads every subsequent draft thereafter. So far I've dedicated three books to her and those dedications are not just a token of love and affection; they also indicate the high esteem in which I hold her and an acknowledgment of the help and inspiration she's given me.

Where does Gordon Lish enter into this? I know he's your editor at Knopf.

Just as he was the editor who began publishing my stories at Esquire back in the early 1970s. But we had a friendship that went back before that time, back to 1967 or 1968, in Palo Alto. He was working for a textbook publishing firm right across the street from the firm where I worked. The one that fired me. He didn't keep any regular office hours. He did most of his work for the company at home. At least once a week he'd ask me over to his place for lunch. He wouldn't eat anything himself, he'd just cook something for me and then hover around the table watching me eat. It made me nervous, as you might imagine. I'd always wind up leaving something on my plate, and he'd always wind up eating it. Said it had to do with the way he was brought up. This is not an isolated example. He still does things like that. He'll take me to lunch now and won't order anything for himself except a drink and then he'll eat up whatever I leave in my plate! I saw him do it once in the Russian Tea Room. There were four of us for dinner, and after the food came he watched us eat. When he saw we were going to leave food on our plates, he cleaned it right up. Aside from this craziness, which is more funny than anything, he's remarkably smart and sensitive to the needs of a manuscript. He's a good editor. Maybe he's a great editor. All I know for sure is that he's my editor and my friend, and I'm glad on both counts.

Would you consider doing more movie script work?

If the subject could be as interesting as this one I just finished with Michael Cimino on the life of Dostoyevsky, yes, of course. Otherwise, no. But Dostoyevsky! You bet I would.

And there was real money involved.


That accounts for the Mercedes.

That's it.

What about The New Yorker? Did you ever send your stories to The New Yorkerwhen you were first starting out?

No, I didn't. I didn't read The New Yorker. I sent my stories and poems to the little magazines and once in a while something was accepted, and I was made happy by the acceptance. I had some kind of audience, you see, even though I never met any of my audience.

Do you get letters from people who've read your work?

Letters, tapes, sometimes photographs. Somebody just sent me a cassette—songs that had been made out of some of the stories.

Do you write better on the West Coast—out in Washington—or here in the East? I guess I'm asking how important a sense of place is to your work.

Once, it was important to see myself as a writer from a particular place. It was important for me to be a writer from the West. But that's not true any longer, for better or worse. I think I've moved around too much, lived in too many places, felt dislocated and displaced, to now have any firmly rooted sense of “place.” If I've ever gone about consciously locating a story in a particular place and period, and I guess I have, especially in the first book, I suppose that place would be the Pacific Northwest. I admire the sense of place in such writers as Jim Welch, Wallace Stegner, John Keeble, William Eastlake, and William Kittredge. There are plenty of good writers with this sense of place you're talking about. But the majority of my stories are not set in any specific locale. I mean, they could take place in just about any city or urban area; here in Syracuse, but also Tucson, Sacramento, San Jose, San Francisco, Seattle, or Port Angeles, Washington. In any case, most of my stories are set indoors!

Do you work in a particular place in your house?

Yes, upstairs in my study. It's important to me to have my own place. Lots of days go by when we just unplug the telephone and put out our “No Visitors.” sign. For many years I worked at the kitchen table, or in a library carrel, or else out in my car. This room of my own is a luxury and a necessity now.

Do you still hunt and fish?

Not so much anymore. I still fish a little, fish for salmon in the summer, if I'm out in Washington. But I don't hunt, I'm sorry to say. I don't know where to go! I guess I could find someone who'd take me, but I just haven't gotten around to it. But my friend Richard Ford is a hunter. When he was up here in the spring of 1981 to give a reading from his work, he took the proceeds from his reading and bought me a shotgun. Imagine that! And he had it inscribed, For Raymond from Richard, April 1981. Richard is a hunter, you see, and I think he was trying to encourage me.

How do you hope your stories will affect people? Do you think your writing will change anybody?

I really don't know. I doubt it. Not change in any profound sense. Maybe not any change at all. After all, art is a form of entertainment, yes? For both the maker and the consumer. I mean in a way it's like shooting billiards or playing cards, or bowling—it's just a different, and I would say higher, form of amusement. I'm not saying there isn't spiritual nourishment involved, too. There is, of course. Listening to a Beethoven concerto or spending time in front of a van Gogh painting or reading a poem by Blake can be a profound experience on a scale that playing bridge or bowling a 220 game can never be. Art is all the things art is supposed to be. But art is also a superior amusement. Am I wrong in thinking this? I don't know. But I remember in my twenties reading plays by Strindberg, a novel by Max Frisch, Rilke's poetry, listening all night to music by Bartók, watching a tv special on the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo and feeling in each case that my life had to change after these experiences, it couldn't help but be affected by these experiences and changed. There was simply no way I would not become a different person. But then I found out soon enough my life was not going to change after all. Not in any way that I could see, perceptible or otherwise. I understood then that art was something I could pursue when I had the time for it, when I could afford to do so, and that's all. Art was a luxury and it wasn't going to change me or my life. I guess I came to the hard realization that art doesn't make anything happen. No. I don't believe for a minute in that absurd Shelleyan nonsense having to do with poets as the “unacknowledged legislators” of this world. What an idea! Isak Dinesen said that she wrote a little every day, without hope and without despair. I like that. The days are gone, if they were ever with us, when a novel or a play or a book of poems could change people's ideas about the world they live in or even about themselves. Maybe writing fiction about particular kinds of people living particular kinds of lives will allow certain areas of life to be understood a little better than they were understood before. But I'm afraid that's it, at least as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps it's different in poetry. Tess has had letters from people who have read her poems and say the poems saved them from jumping off a cliff or drowning themselves, et cetera. But that's something else. Good fiction is partly a bringing of the news from one world to another. That end is good in and of itself, I think. But changing things through fiction, changing somebody's political affiliation or the political system itself, or saving the whales or the redwood trees, no. Not if these are the kinds of changes you mean. And I don't think it should have to do any of these things, either. It doesn'thave to do anything. It just has to be there for the fierce pleasure we take in doing it, and the different kind of pleasure that's taken in reading something that's durable and made to last, as well as beautiful in and of itself. Something that throws off these sparks—a persistent and steady glow, however dim.


Janette Kerr (British, Bath, Somerset, UK) - Letting Go, 2014   Oil on Canvas

Jervis McEntee - Misty Morning

Jean-Pierre Cassigneu


WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS.....................


THE ART OF WAR...............................

Photographs I’ve taken

 Washington DC 

 Eastern Shore of Maryland


 Coronado Island

 Fairfax Virginia

 West Virginia

 Sleeping Giant, Connecticut

Watkins Glen Festival, New York, July 28 of 1973, I was there!


How Coca-Cola and Pepsi achieved global domination
Updated by Julia Belluz
For years, we've known that soda is a major contributor to the obesity epidemic. But lately, major soda companies have gotten a lot of really bad press for trying to obscure that fact.
There was last month's New York Times revelation that Coca-Cola had been quietly funding researchers and organizations that diverted the conversation about obesity away from too many calories and toward the notion that people simply aren't exercising enough.
This week, the company published on its website a list of all the external organizations it has funded over the past five years, to the tune of nearly $120 million. (We searched and sorted the data here. It's an astonishing list that includes the American Diabetic Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.)
This didn't come as a surprise to Marion Nestle, a New York University professor who wrote the seminal tome on the politics of food (appropriately named Food Politics). For years, she's been tracking how American eating practices are shaped by the invisible forces of industry and powerful lobbying groups.
In Soda Politics, she investigates how PepsiCo and Coca-Cola — which sell nothing more than sweet tap water — managed global domination and how that has had a terrible impact on public health.
But the tale isn't a sad one. Sales of soft drinks in the US have been declining for more than a decade. Health advocates are, in Nestle's words, winning.
Julia Belluz: How exactly did soda companies become some of the most powerful corporations in the world?
Marion Nestle: They have a product people like that’s cheap and easy to make. And they set up a business model in which everybody makes money. Within very short order, they had worked out a model in which the bottlers, transporters, servers, soda fountains — everyone was making money hand over fist. Sales grew and grew within the first half of the 20th century.
There was also a big push during World War II. Coke made a deal with the Army to provide a Coke to any soldier anywhere in the world at a nickel a piece, and they got the Army to support that. This means the Army did all the transportation and helped build bottling plants. At the end of the war — this infrastructure in place in practically any country in the world — they had a whole generation of GIs and their families totally devoted to Coke.
Afterward, it was all marketing to increasing numbers of groups, increasingly sophisticated marketing, and making sure governments allowed them to do whatever they needed to do to keep the sugar water plants up running.
All soda is tap water, with a secret formula that isn't so secret — and an enormous amount of marketing behind it, not only in ways people are aware of, like the TV or print ads, but also all the behind-the-scenes ways these companies operate.
JB: You describe in the book how these companies used science to expand their empires and divert messaging around obesity, which only now seems to be a more widely appreciated Big Soda tactic.
MN: Soda companies — and I'm talking about Coke and Pepsi — completely dominate the industry and the American Beverage Association, which is a trade association for the makers and producers of these drinks. Coke and the American Beverage Association fund a lot of research. That research — over the last 10 years or so at least — almost invariably come out with results that favor the interests of the soda companies.

There's so much research now that shows people who drink soda have more obesity, Type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, and other health problems compared with people who don't.
Companies have gone to a great deal of effort to get research that will counter that. They've been successful at partnering with scientists at universities willing to do studies for them.
In August, there was a huge revelation in the New York Times about Coke sponsorship of something called the Global Energy Balance Network. The network's purpose was to say that you didn't have to worry about what you ate or drank if you were more active. That would take care of your obesity problem.
Unfortunately, that’s not true. There was some lack of transparency on the website for the network that didn't expose Coke had paid for it — and investigators who were involved had disclosed that Coke had given them the grant funding.
There was an enormous public reaction. The president of Coke wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he said they were suitably chastised and that he would start a transparency initiative and list all the [organizations] he funded. Now, everybody is looking to see who's been funded by Coke.
JB: In response to the New York Times investigation, Coke just published a list of all the groups it's funded over the past five years on its site. On there is everyone from medical associations to sports teams and community groups. What did you make of that? Does it go far enough?
MN: It’s astonishing. Who could possibly believe that one company would fund so many organizations, every one of them strategically identified? It would be helpful to have similar information about scientists on the company’s committees and boards.
Their funding of these groups makes a lot of sense. The funding buys brand loyalty, silences critics, heads off efforts to advise drinking less soda, and gains support for the companies when they need it.
The only company I can think of [that's done something like this] is Philip Morris, which generously funded arts organizations all over the US, putting every one of them in an awkward position. But it’s much worse for all the health organizations funded by Coca-Cola.
JB: Michelle Obama made fighting childhood obesity a priority. Do you think the White House has done enough to curb the influence of sugar-sweetened beverages on the American diet?
MN: The fact that the first lady took on childhood obesity took my breath away. I couldn't believe it. What I didn't know and still don't know is — did she know at the time she took this on how controversial it would be? Or did she think, in a naive way, that everybody would be against childhood obesity and want to fix the problem and it would be a terrific bipartisan issue?
Childhood obesity seems like it’s this lovely bipartisan issue, like planting flowers on a highway. Who could be against doing something about childhood obesity? But I knew from the get-go that it’d be hugely controversial. You would have to get kids to eat less of some products, and makers of those products would be very upset.
What the first lady tried to do was partner with food companies to get them to voluntarily make changes. She has no regulatory authority, no statutory authority. She had to do it with persuasion and leadership.
So you’re really questioning her ability to persuade and lead. I don't think that's the right question. Did she go about it in a way that seems most politically feasible, and did she make any gains at all? I'd say yes. She brought the issue to the public attention in a way it had never been brought to public attention before.
JB: In the book, you chart how long it took to get soda out of schools — that health advocates started petitioning in the '60s. Why was this such a difficult battle?
MN: There are a lot of food companies who sell to kids, who expose their brands to children in schools. There's a substantial amount of money in that. There's brand loyalty.
Go beyond that, and you get into the question of nanny state-ism and personal responsibility — the idea that parents are responsible for what kids eat, not government. There are First Amendment rights to market our products to schoolkids. There are political ways in which food companies try to protect their sales.
JB: Today, Big Soda's tactics aren't as powerful as they once were — sales have been on the decline for about 15 years. What do you think were the key changes?
MN: Advocacy is working. We're taking on Big Soda and winning. There are so many examples of successes. The Berkeley soda tax was an enormous success. It passed with a 76 percent majority. They organized in every community and framed it as Berkeley against Big Soda. So anytime the soda industry did anything — like raise questions about the "nanny state" — it backfired, because everybody could see it was Big Soda exercising its muscle. It wasn't about public health.
 The soda tax passed in Mexico because people are so worried there about what obesity is going to do to their health-care system and the population as a whole.
JB: Do you think soda has a place in the American diet?
MN: The story of Big Soda is an example of the ways food companies operate. These companies are not evil. They’re not cigarette companies. Nobody is interested in putting them out of business.
I am interested in getting them to stop marketing to children, to minorities, and to stop doing everything they can to undermine public health initiatives. Do I think sodas have a place in the American diet? Sure — just not a big one.
If I had one thing I could teach the American people, it would be that larger portions have more calories. In the case of soda, larger portions have more sugar. The amount of sugars in sodas are staggering: roughly a teaspoon per ounce. If you have a 12-ounce can, it's 10 teaspoons. If you sat and put 12 packets of sugar into a 12-ounce glass of water, you wouldn't want to drink it.
We know most people eat more than they need. In a diet where you’re eating more than you need, sugar water is not a good idea. Everybody would be healthier eating less sugar.

(Max Zellner is a pen name, it was my grandfather's born name. During World War 1 he changed it to the less German sounding Paul Selner)

 Corngold, Joe: AKA Fifke: Lived at 1828 South 59th Street in Chicago.  A one-time body guard of Louis Cowen, a Cicero newspaper publisher who got on the wrong side of the mob and was shot dead in October of 1933. Corngold barely escaped the shooting. Some assumed he had set the publisher up for assassination. 
     Corngold’s brother law was mob gambler Kasper Ciapetta. It was Ciapetta (Who used the name John Carr, a one-time policeman in the Levee district) who set up business for Joe Aiuppa in Delaware, allowing the hood to take advantage of that states lenient tax laws.  From 1945 until 1950, Corngold was a partner with gangsters Willie Heeney, a former Capone gunman, Joey Auippa and Louis Campagna, a former Capone bodyguard, and Claude Moore also a former Capone gunner, in a series of large and very profitable casinos, including the Turf Club on Cermak Road, the El Patio and the Austin Club. Pressures brought on from the Kefauver Committee closed the clubs.
     Campagna admitted before the Kefauver Committee that  between 1937 and 1940 that his share of the profits  from El Patio and the Austin Club  amounted to $204,000, which allowed him to purchase an 800 acre estate near Fowler Indiana, which federal investigators valued at $175,000. A second estate near Berrien Springs was valued at about $75,000. The Committee also found out that Paul Ricca owned  2200 acres near Kendall County Ill. about 25 miles outside Chicago, an estate in River Forrest and  another estate in Long Beach Indiana, which burned down under questionable circumstances shortly after the Kefauver Committee discovered Ricca’s ownership. 
     In the 1960s, Corngold and his occasional business partner Joe Amato AKA Black Joe, had considerable real estate interests in Arizona and lived several doors done from each other in the same condominium complex. Corngold was active in the until the 1970s.

Joe-Joe Corngold

 Excerpt from my book "When Capone’s Mob Murdered Touhy.” 
 “Ten Percent Tony"
"Tony Cermak was an example of the lowest type of machine politics that the corrupt political life of Chicago had yet produced. He was uncouth, gruff, insolent and inarticulate ... he could engage in no more intelligent discussion of the larger political issues of the day than he could of the Einstein theory of relativity. He appeared to take pride in his lack of polish."-Judge Lyle
   Like Matt Kolb, Roger Touhy was a cautious man. He was not prone to mistakes or leaps injudgement, especially when it came to defying a man as dangerous as Al Capone. In fact, the only reason he would have entered a shooting war against Capone and his massive criminal organization was based on his absolute certainty that hewould win. That, and his little known agreement with Chicago's powerful mayor, Anton Cermak, made the bootlegger positive that he could pull Capone from his throne.
"Ten Percent" Tony Cermak, the mayor of Chicago, would lead the Touhys into a war with the Capone syndicate. Tony Cermak was, as Judge Lyle noted, "not a nice man." Instead he was an intim- idator and a bully with a violent temper, who would never walk away from a confrontation. He liked very few people and trusted no one. As his power grew, so did his paranoia. In the state house, as president of Cook County and later as mayor, Cermak used wiretaps, stolen mail, secret surveillance and informants to get intelligence on the weaknesses of his enemies.
   Cermak was born on May 7, 1873 in a Bohemian village about fifty miles from Prague. The family immigrated to America in 1884, settling in a Chicago slum. In 1900, the Cermak family moved to Braidwood, in southern Illinois, where the elder Cermak worked as a coal miner. At age sixteen Tony returned to Chicago alone and saw his opportunity in the rough and tumble world of ethnic politics. He organized the Bohemian community into a powerful voting machine and before he was old enough to vote himself, Tony Cermak was a political power in the Windy City.
   In addition to his unquenchable thirst for power, Cermak was also a greedy man who used his power and position to grow wealthy. While still a ward politician, he formed the United Societies, a high- sounding name for what was nothing more then a shakedown operation to collect money from the hundreds of pimps and saloon owners who worked along the notoriously wicked 22nd Street (which was later, oddly enough, renamed Cermak Road).
   In 1902, at age twenty-six, Cermak went to the State Capitol as a member of the House of Representatives. He eventually worked his way up to Speaker of the House. This position allowed him, if he wished, to block every piece of banking reform legislation before the House. It was a position for which the state's bankers paid him richly. After three terms in the capitol, Cermak's net worth was more than one million dollars. By the time he became mayor of Chicago at age fifty-six, Tony Cermak, the nearly illiterate immigrant, boasted a net worth of seven million dollars, although he never had a job that paid him more then $12,000 a year.
   In 1931, Cermak was the undisputed boss of the most powerful political machine in the country, and declared himself a candidate for Mayor of Chicago. The syndicate, sensing the federal government might step in to restore order to the streets of Chicago if the hopelessly corrupt "Big Bill" Thompson was re-elected, stood solidly behind Cermak's candidacy. Ten Percent Tony Cermak the syndicate figured, was one of them. They could live and prosper with Cermak at the helm. On election day, April 7, 1931, Cermak trounced Thompson by the largest margin ever recorded in a Chicago may- oral election. He promised the people of Chicago that he would rid their city of gangsters before the Century of Progress Exhibition opened at the World's Fair in the summer of 1933. But Cermak wouldn't rid Chicago of organized crime. Instead he would try to corral it, dominate it, and grow rich from it. All he had to do was give it another face, a plot the federal government had unknowingly aided by putting Capone in prison on a shaky tax charge. Capone's imprisonment left a void in Chicago's crime syndicate. Cermak intended to fill that void with Roger Touhy.
   Touhy had told Saul Alinsky, a sociologist, writer and former member of the Joliet State Prison parole board, that in 1932 he entered a partnership with Cermak to run Chicago's underworld. The middle man in the deal was Teddy Newberry, a thug who at one time or another had been associated with every major gang in the city and acted as Cermak's bag man on the street.
   In a meeting at the mayor's office, Cermak and Newberry urged Touhy to wage a war with Capone's mob. Roger was reluctant. A defensive position against the mob was one thing, but an all out war was entirely different. The syndicate could, Touhy pointed out, muster at least 500 gunmen in a few days. Cermak responded, 'You can have the entire police department."
   Eventually, Roger agreed to go along, and Cermak sent word to his police commanders that the Touhys were to be cooperated with in the war against the syndicate.
   Wars cost money. Before the shooting started Roger had to be positive that the cash he needed to support a street war was in place. Anton Cermak could help with that.
   At 6:56 A.M., on December 6, 1932, Tommy Touhy led a gang of five masked men into the United States Post Office in the heart of Chicago's Loop. They overpowered the guard and stole $500,000 in securities and cash. The getaway was easy. Two hours earlier, Cermak called the police shift commander and ordered him to pull all of his men out of the area. A month later the Touhys, armed with machine guns, robbed a Minneapolis postal truck of $78,417 in bonds, cash, certificates and jewelry. Several days later they struck again, robbing a Colorado mail truck of $520,000 in cash.
   During that time Cermak increased his raids on syndicate gambling dens. In one afternoon alone, Chicago police acting on Cermak's orders impounded 200 syndicate slot machines plus another 300 machines stored at Gottleib and Company warehouses. This was the same Gottleib that would later provide slots to mob-owned Las Vegas casinos. As soon as the police took the syndicate's machines, Touhy's men replaced them with their own one armed bandits. The moment a Mob handbook was closed Touhy's operators were moved in to fill the gap. As always, Cermak had an ulterior motive. The raids were a calculated move to cut the syndicate's cash flow in half so that they wouldn't have the funding to carry on a drawn out street war.
   It didn't take the mob's leadership a long time to figure out they had been double-crossed by Cermak, who, along with Touhy, was now putting on the double squeeze. The quick solution for the syndicate was to kill Roger and Tommy Touhy. However killing them wouldn't prove easy, especially now that they were surrounded by a small army of enforcers including George "Baby Face" Nelson, a proven tough guy.
   Still, the syndicate's bosses were determined to stop the flow of union treasuries to Touhy. To do that, they would have to send out a message; they had to throw a scare into the union bosses. It had to be loud and violent and it had to be someone close to Touhy.
   Bill Rooney was just the right person.
   William James Rooney was a labor goon who had done his first prison time back in 1907. In the years that followed Rooney would face dozens of arrests including one in 1910 for the suspected murder of Joseph Patrick Shea. Shea had been the business agent for the Chicago sheet metal workers' union, a local which Rooney was trying to muscle his way into. He was acquitted of the murder, even though he had shot Shea dead in the middle of the union hall in front of at least 150 witnesses. No one testified against him and Rooney was released to continue his takeover of the union. By 1928, he not only controlled the sheet metal workers', but the flat janitors' and the meat cutters' unions as well. Capone sent word that he wanted half of Rooney's labor empire. Rooney refused and Capone threatened his life. Unfazed, Rooney made his own threats and then started to move his operation and his family out to Des Plains to live under Touhy's protection.
   On the night they killed him, Rooney was still moving his belongings from his home in Chicago to a rented house in Des Plains. His wife and two children had already driven to the country.
   Rooney waited outside his home while his chauffeur sprinted down the street to retrieve his car from a rented garage about five minutes away. Draped in a heavy grey top coat and dress hat, Rooney paced back and forth on the lawn as a blue sedan pulled up to the curb. One of the men in the back seat, believed to be Paul Ricca, rolled down a window and said, "Hi Billy. "
   When Rooney stepped up to the car and bent down to look inside, a shotgun appeared in the window and three blasts ripped into Rooney's head, chest and stomach. Remarkably, the blast didn't knock him down. Instead, Rooney grabbed the car as it sped away, but then slid slowly to his knees. He was dragged twenty-five feet before releasing his grip.
   With Rooney dead, Red Barker and Murray Humpreys took over the sheet metal and the building service employees' union and looted its treasury.
   Rooney's murder was one of the last bright moments for the syndicate. For the next two years, the Touhy-Cermak-Newberry combination pounded the mob mercilessly. In fact, within three days of Rooney's murder, the Touhys responded by killing Johnny Genaro, Capone's new acting chief of staff, and his driver, Joey Vince, by pulling up along the side of Genaro's car and drilling a dozen rounds of machine gun fire into both of them.
   Genero died immediately but Vince managed to live until the cops arrived. A patrolman lifted the hood's head out of a pool of blood and whispered "Who shot you? Who did this?"
   For a man full of bullet holes on the threshold of death, Vince was remarkably lucid. He sat upright for a second and said '1 can't describe the men. I was too confused at the moment it happened...and I would never tell you anyway, you piece of shit. "
   Then he fell back into the gutter and died.

Syndicate thug Tony Genero, killed by the Touhy's in the Touhy-Nitti labors wars


Architecture for the blog of it

Art for the Blog of It

Art for the Pop of it

Photography for the blog of it

Music for the Blog of it

Sculpture this and Sculpture that

The art of War (Propaganda art through the ages)

Album Art (Photographic arts)

Pulp Fiction Trash (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)

Admit it, you want to Read this Book (The art of Pulp Fiction covers)

The Godfather Trilogy BlogSpot

On the Waterfront: The Making of a great American Film

Absolutely blogalicious

The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)

Good chowda (New England foods)

Old New England Recipes (Book support site)

And I Love Clams (New England foods)

In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener (New England foods)

Wicked Cool New England Recipes (New England foods)

Old New England Recipes (New England foods)

Foster Care new and Updates

Aging out of the system

Murder, Death and Abuse in the Foster Care system

Angel and Saints in the Foster Care System

The Foster Children’s Blogs

Foster Care Legislation

The Foster Children’s Bill of Right

Foster Kids own Story

The Adventures of Foster Kid.

Me vs. Diabetes (Diabetes education site)

The Quotable Helen Keller

Teddy Roosevelt's Letters to his children (Book support site)

The Quotable Machiavelli (Book support site)

Whatever you do, don't laugh

The Quotable Grouch Marx

A Big Blog of Irish Literature

The Wee Blog of Irish Jokes (Book support blog)

The Wee Blog of Irish Recipes

The Irish American Gangster

The Irish in their Own Words

When Washington Was Irish

The Wee Book of Irish Recipes (Book support site)

Following Fitzgerald


The Blogable Robert Frost

Charles Dickens

The Beat Poets of the Forever Generation

Holden Caulfield Blog Spot

The Quotable Oscar Wilde

The Quotable Thoreau

Old New England Recipes

Wicked Cool New England Recipes


The New England Mafia

And I Love Clams

In Praise of the Rhode Island Wiener

Watch Hill

York Beach

The Connecticut History Blog

The Connecticut Irish

Good chowda

God, How I hated the 70s

Child of the Sixties Forever

The Kennedy’s in the 60’s

Music of the Sixties Forever

Elvis and Nixon at the White House (Book support site)

Beatles Fan Forever

Year One, 1955

Robert Kennedy in His Own Words

The 1980s were fun

The 1990s. The last decade.

The Russian Mafia

The American Jewish Gangster

The Mob in Hollywood

We Only Kill Each Other

Early Gangsters of New York City

Al Capone: Biography of a self-made Man

The Life and World of Al Capone

The Salerno Report

Guns and Glamour

The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre

Mob Testimony

Recipes we would Die For

The Prohibition in Pictures

The Mob in Pictures

The Mob in Vegas

The Irish American Gangster

Roger Touhy Gangster

Chicago’s Mob Bosses

Chicago Gang Land: It Happened Here

Whacked: One Hundred years of Murder in Gangland

The Mob Across America

Mob Cops, Lawyers and Front Men

Shooting the Mob: Dutch Schultz

Bugsy& His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill

After Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate on Organized Crime

Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee (Book support site)

The US Government’s Timeline of Organized Crime (Book support site)

The Kefauver Organized Crime Hearings (Book support site)

Joe Valachi's testimony on the Mafia (Book support site)

Mobsters in the News

Shooting the Mob: Dead Mobsters (Book support site)

The Stolen Years Full Text (Roger Touhy)

Mobsters in Black and White

Mafia Gangsters, Wiseguys and Goodfellas

Whacked: One Hundred Years of Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Mob (Book support site)

Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal (Book support site)

The Best of the Mob Files Series (Book support site)

It’s All Greek Mythology to me

Psychologically Relevant

The Rarifieid Tribe

Perfect Behavior

The Upscale Traveler

The Mish Mosh Blog

DC Behind the Monuments

Washington Oddities

When Washington Was Irish

Litchfield Literary Books. A really small company run by writers.


The Day Nixon Met Elvis
Paperback 46 pages

Theodore Roosevelt: Letters to his Children. 1903-1918
Paperback 194 pages

The Works of Horace
Paperback 174 pages

The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 234 pages

The Quotable Epictetus
Paperback 142 pages

Quo Vadis: A narrative of the time of Nero
Paperback 420 pages

The Porchless Pumpkin: A Halloween Story for Children
A Halloween play for young children. By consent of the author, this play may be performed, at no charge, by educational institutions, neighborhood organizations and other not-for-profit-organizations.
A fun story with a moral
“I believe that Denny O'Day is an American treasure and this little book proves it. Jack is a pumpkin who happens to be very small, by pumpkins standards and as a result he goes unbought in the pumpkin patch on Halloween eve, but at the last moment he is given his chance to prove that just because you're small doesn't mean you can't be brave. Here is the point that I found so wonderful, the book stresses that while size doesn't matter when it comes to courage...ITS OKAY TO BE SCARED....as well. I think children need to hear that, that's its okay to be unsure because life is a ongoing lesson isn't it?”
Paperback: 42 pages

It's Not All Right to be a Foster Kid....no matter what they tell you: Tweet the books contents
Paperback 94 pages

From the Author
I spent my childhood, from age seven through seventeen, in foster care.  Over the course of those ten years, many decent, well-meaning, and concerned people told me, "It's okay to be foster kid."
In saying that, those very good people meant to encourage me, and I appreciated their kindness then, and all these many decades later, I still appreciate their good intentions. But as I was tossed around the foster care system, it began to dawn on me that they were wrong.  It was not all right to be a foster kid.
During my time in the system, I was bounced every eighteen months from three foster homes to an orphanage to a boy's school and to a group home before I left on my own accord at age seventeen.
In the course of my stay in foster care, I was severely beaten in two homes by my "care givers" and separated from my four siblings who were also in care, sometimes only blocks away from where I was living.
I left the system rather than to wait to age out, although the effects of leaving the system without any family, means, or safety net of any kind, were the same as if I had aged out. I lived in poverty for the first part of my life, dropped out of high school, and had continuous problems with the law.
 Today, almost nothing about foster care has changed.  Exactly what happened to me is happening to some other child, somewhere in America, right now.  The system, corrupt, bloated, and inefficient, goes on, unchanging and secretive.
Something has gone wrong in a system that was originally a compassionate social policy built to improve lives but is now a definitive cause in ruining lives.  Due to gross negligence, mismanagement, apathy, and greed, mostly what the foster care system builds are dangerous consequences. Truly, foster care has become our epic national disgrace and a nightmare for those of us who have lived through it.
Yet there is a suspicion among some Americans that foster care costs too much, undermines the work ethic, and is at odds with a satisfying life.  Others see foster care as a part of the welfare system, as legal plunder of the public treasuries.
 None of that is true; in fact, all that sort of thinking does is to blame the victims.  There is not a single child in the system who wants to be there or asked to be there.  Foster kids are in foster care because they had nowhere else to go.  It's that simple.  And believe me, if those kids could get out of the system and be reunited with their parents and lead normal, healthy lives, they would. And if foster care is a sort of legal plunder of the public treasuries, it's not the kids in the system who are doing the plundering.
 We need to end this needless suffering.  We need to end it because it is morally and ethically wrong and because the generations to come will not judge us on the might of our armed forces or our technological advancements or on our fabulous wealth.
 Rather, they will judge us, I am certain, on our compassion for those who are friendless, on our decency to those who have nothing and on our efforts, successful or not, to make our nation and our world a better place.  And if we cannot accomplish those things in the short time allotted to us, then let them say of us "at least they tried."
You can change the tragedy of foster care and here's how to do it.  We have created this book so that almost all of it can be tweeted out by you to the world.  You have the power to improve the lives of those in our society who are least able to defend themselves.  All you need is the will to do it.
 If the American people, as good, decent and generous as they are, knew what was going on in foster care, in their name and with their money, they would stop it.  But, generally speaking, although the public has a vague notion that foster care is a mess, they don't have the complete picture. They are not aware of the human, economic and social cost that the mismanagement of the foster care system puts on our nation.
By tweeting the facts laid out in this work, you can help to change all of that.  You can make a difference.  You can change things for the better.
We can always change the future for a foster kid; to make it better ...you have the power to do that. Speak up (or tweet out) because it's your country.  Don't depend on the "The other guy" to speak up for these kids, because you are the other guy.
We cannot build a future for foster children, but we can build foster children for the future and the time to start that change is today.

No time to say Goodbye: Memoirs of a life in foster 
Paperbook 440 Books


On the Waterfront: The Making of a Great American Film
Paperback: 416 pages


Scotish Ghost Stories
Paperback 186 pages

The Book of funny odd and interesting things people say
Paperback: 278 pages

The Wee Book of Irish Jokes

Perfect Behavior: A guide for Ladies and Gentlemen in all Social Crises


You Don’t Need a Weatherman. Underground 1969
Paperback 122 pages

Baby Boomers Guide to the Beatles Songs of the Sixties

Baby Boomers Guide to Songs of the 1960s

The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages

 The Wee Book of Irish Jokes

The Wee Book of Irish Recipes 
 The Wee Book of the American-Irish Gangsters

 The Wee book of Irish Blessings... 

The Wee Book of the American Irish in Their Own Words

Everything you need to know about St. Patrick
Paperback 26 pages

A Reading Book in Ancient Irish History
Paperback 147pages

The Book of Things Irish

Poets and Dreamer; Stories translated from the Irish
Paperback 158 pages

The History of the Great Irish Famine: Abridged and Illustrated
Paperback 356 pages


The New England Mafia

Wicked Good New England Recipes

The Connecticut Irish
Paper back 140 pages

The Twenty-Fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Paperback 64 pages

The Life of James Mars
Paperback 54 pages

Stories of Colonial Connecticut
Paperback 116 pages

What they Say in Old New England
Paperback 194 pages


Chicago Organized Crime

The Mob Files: It Happened Here: Places of Note in Chicago gangland 1900-2000

An Illustrated Chronological History of the Chicago Mob. Time Line 1837-2000

Mob Buster: Report of Special Agent Virgil Peterson to the Kefauver Committee

The Mob Files. Guns and Glamour: The Chicago Mob. A History. 1900-2000

Shooting the Mob: Organized crime in photos. Crime Boss Tony Accardo

Shooting the Mob: Organized Crime in Photos: The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre.

The Life and World of Al Capone in Photos

AL CAPONE: The Biography of a Self-Made Man.: Revised from the 0riginal 1930 edition.Over 200 new photographs
Paperback: 340 pages

Whacked. One Hundred Years Murder and Mayhem in the Chicago Outfit
Paperback: 172 pages

Las Vegas Organized Crime
The Mob in Vegas

Bugsy & His Flamingo: The Testimony of Virginia Hill

Testimony by Mobsters Lewis McWillie, Joseph Campisi and Irwin Weiner (The Mob Files Series)

Rattling the Cup on Chicago Crime.
Paperback 264 pages

The Life and Times of Terrible Tommy O’Connor.
Paperback 94 pages

The Mob, Sam Giancana and the overthrow of the Black Policy Racket in Chicago
Paperback 200 pages

When Capone’s Mob Murdered Roger Touhy. In Photos
Paperback 234 pages

Organized Crime in Hollywood
The Mob in Hollywood

The Bioff Scandal
Paperback 54 pages

Organized Crime in New York
Joe Pistone’s war on the mafia

Mob Testimony: Joe Pistone, Michael Scars DiLeonardo, Angelo Lonardo and others

The New York Mafia: The Origins of the New York Mob

The New York Mob: The Bosses

Organized Crime 25 Years after Valachi. Hearings before the US Senate

Shooting the mob: Dutch Schultz

Gangland Gaslight: The Killing of Rosy Rosenthal. (Illustrated)

Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City
Paperback 382 pages

The Russian Mafia in America

The Threat of Russian Organzied Crime
Paperback 192 pages

Organized Crime/General
Best of Mob Stories

Best of Mob Stories Part 2


Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobsters in Photos

More Mob Recipes to Die For. Meals and Mobs

The New England Mafia

Shooting the mob. Organized crime in photos. Dead Mobsters, Gangsters and Hoods.

The Salerno Report: The Mafia and the Murder of President John F. Kennedy

The Mob Files: Mob Wars. "We only kill each other"

The Mob across America

The US Government’s Time Line of Organzied Crime 1920-1987

Early Street Gangs and Gangsters of New York City: 1800-1919. Illustrated

The Mob Files: Mob Cops, Lawyers and Informants and Fronts

Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages

The Book of American-Jewish Gangsters: A Pictorial History.
Paperback: 436 pages

The Mob and the Kennedy Assassination
Paperback 414 pages


The Last Outlaw: The story of Cole Younger, by Himself
Paperback 152 pages

Chicago: A photographic essay.
 Paperback: 200 pages

Boomers on a train: A ten minute play
Paperback 22 pages

Four Short Plays
By John William Tuohy

Four More Short Plays
By John William Tuohy

High and Goodbye: Everybody gets the Timothy Leary they deserve. A full length play
By John William Tuohy

Cyberdate. An Everyday Love Story about Everyday People
By John William Tuohy

The Dutchman's Soliloquy: A one Act Play based on the factual last words of Gangster Dutch Schultz.
By John William Tuohy

Fishbowling on The Last Words of Dutch Schultz: Or William S. Burroughs intersects with Dutch Schultz
Print Length: 57 pages

American Shakespeare: August Wilson in his own words. A One Act Play
By John William Tuohy

She Stoops to Conquer

The Seven Deadly Sins of Gilligan’s Island: A ten minute play
Print Length: 14 pages

OUT OF CONTROL: An Informal History of the Fairfax County Police

McLean Virginia. A short informal history


The Quotable Emerson: Life lessons from the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: Over 300 quotes

The Quotable John F. Kennedy

The Quotable Oscar Wilde

The Quotable Machiavelli

The Quotable Confucius: Life Lesson from the Chinese Master

The Quotable Henry David Thoreau

The Quotable Robert F. Kennedy

The Quotable Writer: Writers on the Writers Life

The words of Walt Whitman: An American Poet
Paperback: 162 pages

Gangster Quotes: Mobsters in their own words. Illustrated
Paperback: 128 pages

The Quotable Popes
Paperback 66 pages

The Quotable Kahlil Gibran with Artwork from Kahlil Gibran
Paperback 52 pages
Kahlil Gibran, an artist, poet, and writer was born on January 6, 1883 n the north of modern-day Lebanon and in what was then part of Ottoman Empire. He had no formal schooling in Lebanon. In 1895, the family immigrated to the United States when Kahlil was a young man and settled in South Boston. Gibran enrolled in an art school and was soon a member of the avant-garde community and became especially close to Boston artist, photographer, and publisher Fred Holland Day who encouraged and supported Gibran’s creative projects. An accomplished artist in drawing and watercolor, Kahlil attended art school in Paris from 1908 to 1910, pursuing a symbolist and romantic style. He held his first art exhibition of his drawings in 1904 in Boston, at Day's studio. It was at this exhibition, that Gibran met Mary Elizabeth Haskell, who ten years his senior. The two formed an important friendship and love affair that lasted the rest of Gibran’s short life. Haskell influenced every aspect of Gibran’s personal life and career. She became his editor when he began to write and ushered his first book into publication in 1918, The Madman, a slim volume of aphorisms and parables written in biblical cadence somewhere between poetry and prose. Gibran died in New York City on April 10, 1931, at the age of 48 from cirrhosis of the liver and tuberculosis.

The Quotable Dorothy Parker
Paperback 86 pages

The Quotable Machiavelli
Paperback 36 pages

The Quotable Greeks
Paperback 230 pages

The Quotabe Oscar Wilde
Paperback 24 pages

The Quotable Helen Keller
Paperback 66 pages

The Art of War: Sun Tzu
Paperback 60 pages

The Quotable Shakespeare
Paperback 54 pages

The Quotable Gorucho Marx
Paperback 46 pages