Tag Archives: literature

Lost dreams in the big city

28 Oct

Only an Idiot Gets Lost in Chicago

“I don’t give a shit about that,” Buck said.

Buck stood in the newsroom staring past Stan through the window at the gray early November afternoon. Outside, it was lightly snowing. Like swirls of confetti, the flakes fell onto the windshield of Stan’s new car parked on the street just outside the window. Stan had his own parking spot, one of the perks of his title. The vehicle had just been purchased the previous week, one of the upcoming year’s models.

“Perhaps you should give a shit,” Stan said looking up at Buck from his desk. “You know, it’s not that hard to pick up the phone and do some checking. We can’t have the Tribune beating us on these kinds of stories.”

Buck didn’t really care if the Tribune beat them. And why should he? At ten bucks an hour they could give his job to some kid eager to get the latest scoop. And yet, he felt a bit ashamed about it all. Yeah. He could have done better.

“Your new car’s getting covered with snow,” Buck said.

“Buck. This is serious.”

He looked at Stan. His boss wasn’t smiling.

“Look … just try to do some more thorough checking.”

Stan eyed Buck. Buck knew Stan was only trying to do his job as editor of The Progress.

“You looked bad on this one Buck,” he said. “A few phone calls and you could have had a much better story.”

Buck looked away.

Yeah. A few phone calls. It had been pretty sloppy reporting. But damn. What the hell was he even doing on the police beat anyway? Besides, he’d had other stuff to do that night without getting an identification of some body at the bottom of a coal shaft. And he had tried to get the coroner on the phone. Okay. He should have tried more than once. Shit, it was all nuts and bolts reporting anyway. Something they could just about train a monkey to do.

Stan leaned back in his chair and studied him.

“What’s been going on with you anymore? You used to care Buck.”

Buck looked down at the floor. The two of them had been through some great times together. Back when they’d both been cocky young reporters, banging out their stories. They were the Gold Dust Twins. A crusty editor with a drinking problem named Smiley had dubbed them that. When they weren’t trying to top each other with scoops they were closing down bars in the downtown. But that had been then, and Smiley was long gone.



A couple of baseball books to start the season

31 Mar



Can’t get enough baseball? When you get done watching your favorite team on Opening Day will you still be hungry for more baseball?.

There’s always plenty of books on the national pastime. Some of my favorites include “A False Spring” and “Dynasty.”

“A False Spring” is Pat Jordan’s mostly autobiographical book of his minor league days as a struggling pitcher in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Jordan was a flame-throwing right-hander who got a nice bonus from the Milwaukee Braves, but unfortunately was unable to fulfill his promise.

Jordan’s story isn’t a particularly happy one, but it’s interesting how he tries to make sense of how it all went wrong. And Jordan paints just marvelous descriptions of some of the backwater bush league towns where he spent lonely summers of his late adolescence learning about himself and struggling with his baseball life.  .

“Dynasty” was Peter Golenbock’s first baseball book, and it was a gem. It covers the great era of the New York Yankees from 1949 to 1964 when the Bronx Bombers were truly a dynasty. Golenbock traces each of the seasons and later catches up with the ballplayers, and not just the stars such as Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford, but the mostly forgotten players as well.

Anyway, those are just two books I would recommend among dozens of others you can read. Hey. It’s great to have spring here finally and another baseball season. Now let’s play ball.

Write the book you simply have to write

3 Mar



Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes is one of my favorite books. This story of a man who dreams of glory but falls way short hits all the right buttons. A Fan’s Notes is about many things – drunkenness, madness, fame, football, love, lust and a few other human emotions and issues that most of us who’ve lived any length of time on this vast Earth have thought about or experienced in one way or another. The protagonist is like a lot of us, even if he seems to have more problems than most of us.
I read the book when I was twenty-two, fresh out of the Air Force, a time when I was at loose ends and trying to figure out what the hell to do with the rest of my life. Naturally, I identified with the main character, who was Exley himself, a man who wanted literary fame, but didn’t seem to know how to go about getting himself together to try and grab the brass ring.
That the book eventually catapulted him into some degree of celebrity is the ironic part of it all. Exley never duplicated that first book. In fact, he only wrote two other books, both of which fell far short of his first effort.
Maybe you too have a book in you waiting to get out, a fictional memoir like Exley wrote. Perhaps you’ve been carrying around this story in your head for years, but you just don’t now how to get started.
Why not try sitting down and letting it all out? Don’t get hung up on the beginning and outlining to death and wondering if it will have some kind of ending. Chances are, if you’ve been carrying the story around in your head for all these years, it will come out. Trust your instincts. Write the darn book, as I like to say. Don’t over-think the thing. Remember, the best stories come from the heart, not the brain.
And always, write fast. Remember a first draft is only a blue print. It can always be edited.
Exley put it all out there in his book. Whether you’re burning to write a fictional memoir, as did Exley, or some other book, letting loose with your heart is a good strategy. Exley wrote a book he simply had to write. How about you? Is there such a story waiting to get out?