So you can read my books

Thursday, April 24, 2014


A young Ella Fitzgerald,
photographed by Carl Van Vechten in 1940

"Just don't give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don't think you can go wrong."
 - Ella Fitzgerald, born on this day in 1917.


Ghost of Mark Twain, here --
On this date in 795, old Pope Leo III was attacked in a procession in Rome. 
His attackers commensed to try to blind him and cut out his tongue.
And folks have been trying to blind and muzzle those who they disagree with ever since.

On this date in 1719, ROBINSON CRUSOE was published.

Though the book is Daniel Defoe's most well-known work, he actually didn't write fiction until he was in his sixties. 

So you struggling writers out there don't give up and experiment with other genres, don't you know?

The book is based on the experiences of a Scottish sailor, Alexander Selkirk.


The guillotine was first used on this date in 1792:

  The iconic method of execution in the French Revolution got its start a few years earlier with the execution of a highwayman named Nicolas J Pelletier.

  Eyewitness accounts report that the crowd at the execution was dissatisfied with the guillotine since they found it too "clinically effective," and therefore not entertaining enough.

But folks got their heads together and come up with Reality TV and most seem pleased with the results!

Now some folks used claymation to make a cartoon of my "THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER" in 1986.

I worked on the book periodically from roughly 1890 up until 1910.

The body of work is a serious social commentary, addressing my ideas of the Moral Sense and the "damned human race."

This here cartoon was banned from TV.  And truth to tell, children, it rather creeps me out my own self!

Watch at your own peril ...

My first book, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches, was published on this day in 1867.

In my autobiography, I tell of first trying to pitch the book to a New York publisher, and being laughed out the door.

Twenty-one years later, while on holiday in Switzerland, I bumped into the publisher again, who introduced himself hat-in-hand:
"I am substantially an obscure person but I have a couple of such colossal distinctions to my credit that I am entitled to immortality—to wit:

I refused a book of yours and for this I stand without competitor as the prize ass of the nineteenth century."
It was a most handsome apology, and I told him so,

and said it was a long delayed revenge but was sweeter to me than any other that could be devised;
that during the lapsed twenty-one years I had in fancy taken his life several times every year,

and always in new and increasingly cruel and inhuman ways,
but that now I was pacified, appeased, happy, even jubilant; and that thenceforth I should hold him my true and valued friend and never kill him again.

Thinking on what author to pick for V that's got the same sharp wit as me --

Oh, don't go glaring at me like that Gore!  When we go at one another, the sparks fly, don't you know?

I pick you, Gore -- Gore Vidal!

“The unfed mind devours itself.” 

“Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President.

One hopes it is the same half.” 

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.” Gore Vidal


  1. I'm intrigued, now I have to see the United States of Amnesia. Funny seeing him with William F Buckley. I never saw their 'debates' but have heard of them.

  2. As an avid reader (an admitted bookaholic) I add my plea to all you writers, published or not. Please never give up - you enrich my world.
    The French seem to get over their distaste for the guillotine quickly. Too quickly.
    Sadly, I doubt that those who have never read a paper and those who have never voted are a matched set. Some overlap, but not a perfect fit.

  3. I still keep articles from the newspaper that we get once a week, as idea generators for blogposts.

    I have always voted no matter where I've lived. That way, I can grumble afterwards.

    Things come and go, but newspapers look so much cooler than trying to hide behind your smartphone, when you're sitting at a café.

  4. I admire Mark Twain's rejecting, would-be publisher for his eloquent apology, and Twain's reply is classic, as usual. It reminds me of what Norman Mailer once said: "I have never hit a critic, and I say that with some wistfulness."

    And Gore Vidal! I read Burr in college and was ever after mesmerized with his sentences.

  5. The guillotine wasn't entertaining enough? That's twisted.

  6. David:
    To hear those debates was to hear two brilliant minds strike sparks from one another, neither yeilding or bowing.

    Elephant's Child:
    Newspapers are sadly on the wane, and the internet is usually interested only in tidbit size snippets of information.

    And not giving up is hard, but so is everything worthwhile, right?

    LOL. Yes, all those heads bowed to their smart phones irritate me somehow as if they were communing with their silicon gods. Sigh.

    At the start of HER BONES ARE IN THE BADLANDS, I have McCord give my reasons for why local newspapers are so important.

    Yes, if you don't participate in the system, you do not have the right to gripe! :-)

    Love that Norman Mailer quote. Twain tips his hat to you for your approval -- the old flirt!

    I am fascinated by Vidal's non-fiction essays. He was a brilliant man -- which means that often I agree with him! :-)

    Yes, the guillotine was too quick. Sigh. :-(

  7. Such a positive, uplifting side of the crusty Twain. Love, love Ella's music but now this--her quote is magnificent. So glad I stopped in to visit.

  8. I was unaware of Mark Twain's rejection and the apology that followed twenty years later. Rarely do we get to enjoy something so much. Good for Twain!

    And that Gore Vidal quote... that is a classic. Yes, we can only hope that it is the SAME HALF.

  9. I took me a long time to become a citizen of the U.S. The be able to VOTE was the number one reason I took on the responsibility of citizenship. I heard Ella at Birdland in NYC when I first came to the U.S. and then at the Hollywood Bowl in 1992, which must have been one of her last concerts. She was just as great and as special on both occasions.

    My sister who had the most severe form of Downs Syndrome and could not speak and was severely handicapped loved to listen to Ella sing with Louis Armstrong. It was her favorite record. That will always be special to me.

    Wasn't Ella's quote uplifting. And she had such a hard life, too.

    Wasn't it grand that Twain had his apology from such a stinging experience with the icing of his great success on top of everything!

    Gore was a great wit and yes, let it be the SAME half!

    I know that Ella would have been moved and pleased that her singing brought delight to your sister.

    I envy you hearing the greats in person as you have. :-)