...& a book of THREE fresh novellas.
THE SOLDIER is set during the last days of the German Sixth Army (turning point of WWII). A brilliant German General is bitterly estranged from his Nazi-Minister son, but in the first of many twists, the son enlists him in a complex conspiracy to kill Hitler and save Germany. Together they meet the enigmatic "Soldier" (a well educated, half-Jewish line soldier with many combat medals) during the fateful battle of Stalingrad. And, talk about different novels: LUCKY FRANK YORT is an entertaining, quirky story with deep roots in Fielding and Twain. YORT centers on bright vagabond sheriff Frank Yort and hardscrabble entrepreneur Faith O'Herlihy in miserable Mine City, California (1872)—while, down the new tracks in booming railhead Delta City, Samuel X. Barkley brilliantly plots to rule the Western rails. Surprising complications join all three and build to a (literally) explosive climax. And, while these are altogether different novels, if read one after the other the Reader would recognize the same author. — The novellas are mentioned below, but first a different story about origins:
I had read only three novels by high school graduation. And that was despite my mother pressing countless books into my hands from the time I could read. When I went off to college, she had nearly given up hope of my ever developing some form of intellectual and artistic curiosity. I enjoyed those novels well enough, especially Mister Roberts, but not enough to finish another until I was at Northwestern.
I had been a jock—all sports, but I excelled at football (started on the #1 1952 team in Michigan) and track—as well as politician (class president). But then I was hurt and couldn’t continue football and, for a while, this broke my heart. I had run track because my coaches insisted, not because I loved throwing up after sprinting a quarter mile. So when football, which I loved, was over, I gave up track as well. Therefore, when I went to NU as a pure student, I became an intellectual. I started smoking and drinking coffee and hanging out at The Great Expectations Book Shop. Then a guy in my fraternity told me that The Great Gatsby was the best novel ever written. I read it and readily agreed, talking it up to others (although, as I recall, it was only the 4th non-textbook I’d ever actually finished). Anyway, we are now about half-way there.
Searching for a gut course in my sophomore year, someone else in the fraternity said, “You’re a bullshitter, Hare, so how about Sophomore Comp?” It didn’t seem like a very promising idea, however, since I had never been able to complete an English “theme” without the utmost agony, counting every single word until I had scratched out the quota (300 as I recall). But I checked around and discovered that, sure enough, there was no textbook in Sophomore Composition and all you did was turn in a few pages of bullshit every few weeks in order to pass. So the first thing I wrote about was an experience during a high school summer near Yellowstone. I had nearly been killed by a mother bear for stupidly playing with her cubs when she was out of sight. Our instructor told me to see him after class and I was certain the jig was up; he was going to throw me out because of that story I’d recently turned in (it couldn’t be any good, I reasoned, because I had actually finished it with no agony at all). In his little office, he showed me my paper—the first page predictably covered with so much red ink that I failed to note the letter grade at the top. He said, “Mr. Hare, let’s work together for the rest of the quarter and I’m sure we can make some headway against your spelling and grammatical troubles.” His hand swept across my red-ink-corrected catastrophe. “Because,” he continued with a smile, “I can’t tell you how grateful I was to read your piece. I seldom read anything half as interesting from my students.”
I looked up and saw that the grade was A-minus. His name was Walter Rideout and, after I'd been making my living as a writer for several years, I tried to locate and thank him. The trail ran dry at the University of Wisconsin, an Associate Professor who left Madison for...somewhere. So out there "somewhere," Dr. Rideout, GOD BLESS YOU!
THE JFK ANNIVERSARY TRIP is the first of three novellas that would make up a book. JFK begins and ends in Dallas during the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination (2013). The principals are now aged and still adore each other—if not Big D. It's a story about total opposites: he was a womanizing Dallas Bircher; she was married then, pregnant, and an outspoken Liberal from Chicago; he was a top physician; she was a dedicated 3rd grade teacher who hated his guts. They fell in love. And a deceased Judge spins some magic at the end. — JESUS IN ADVERTISING (sad irony) and NO FAT POETS (love story) are the other two.