Monday, January 17, 2022

My Encounter With Ron Goulart's Roommate

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Ron Goulart has passed away, alas. I only met the man a few times, but I read about a bajillion of his books. (He was nothing if not prolific, and his works were inevitably entertaining and a fast read.) But I do have a story to share  with you that is almost about him--my encounter with Ron Goulart's college roommate.

Our meeting took place at a chemical and biological warfare conference in Maryland. Skipping over a great deal of interesting  material, at lunch I found myself sharing a table with a number of attendees who introduced themselves by name and affiliation. Dr. John Doe of Fort  Ditrick, Dr. Jane Roe of Johns Hopkins, and so on. They were baffled when I gave my affiliation as SFWA. As it turned out, there was one other freelance writer at the table, a journalist,so we of course began talking shop.

"Have you ever heard of a writer named Ron Goulart?" he asked.

"I love his stuff!" I replied.

"Well, we were roommates in college," the man said. "I don't know if you've read his Jose Silvera stories?" (Jose Silvera is a two-fisted freelance writer who can write 40,000 words on any topic overnight but has to rappel down skyscrapers and break into his editor's office with flash grenades to get what he's owed. The stories featuring him are among Goulart's funniest.) "After graduation, we both went to New York City and I'd tell him stories about how difficult it was to get paid for writing assignments. He found my stories greatly amusing and based Silvera on me."

Cool, I thought. 

Then, in the uncanny way these things happen, a couple of weeks later, I ran into Goulart. So I told him I'd met his old college roommate.

"I didn't have a roommate," he said. Then, when I told him about the conversation, "Those stories weren't based on somebody else. They were based on my experiences with editors." He was gently amused, but not at all surprised. These things happen to humorists.

So I'd had lunch with a fictitious character impersonator. Which is a strange experience indeed but one that prepared me, some years later, for the discovery that somebody was impersonating one my characters. But that's another story for another time.

Vaya con Dios, Ron. And if there are any of Jose Silvera's editors out there: Pay up, you cheap bastards!

 

Above: Has there ever been a more appropriate title for a Ron Goulart novel?


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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Introducing . . . Dune!

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Look what came in the mail today! It's the new Centipede Press edition of Frank Herbert's magnum opus Dune.

This is one beautiful book. Boxed, generously illustrated by Mark Molnar, with an afterword by the author's son, Brian Herbert, (even the inside of the slip cover is illustrated!) and more decorative elements than I have the technical terminology to list. And it sold out pretty much the instant it went on sale. 

I have the good fortune to own a copy because I wrote the introduction. That's a big deal for me because Dune was one of my formative books. I can remember staring at it in a grocery store spinner rack (ask your grandmother), trying to decide whether to spend 95 cents on it. That was a lot of money when I was 17!  Almost enough to buy three regular SF paperbacks. On the other hand, it looked like it might be something special.

So I splurged. And I have never regretted that decision.

 



Above, Top: Book, box, and interior of dusk jacket. Above, Bottom: Fold-out map. Pretty nifty, eh?


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Monday, January 10, 2022

Playing Hooky

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Yesterday, I wrote not a word. No fiction. No non-fiction. Nada. Instead, Marianne and I went to Bombay Hook.

Winter birding is a lot more bracing than warm weather birding. Also, there are a lot fewer birds. But the first bird we spotted was a bald eagle, so I have no complaints. We saw great blue herons at regular intervals, which was not surprising, but also a lot albas, which was. Aren't they supposed to be in North Carolina by now?

Highlights of our day include a blue winged teal, buffleheads, a red-headed merganser, and a harrier hawk--on the ground! I've never seen a harrier on the ground before. They are swift daughters of the wind. 

Pictured above is Shearness Pond, half covered with iceand glimmering with sunglade.

It was a good day. One worth living.


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