February in Michigan, Temperature in the 60s (?)

Sheesh, this weather seems like a fantasy so why not go whole hog… YO!, ALERT! THIS IS NOT REAL, THIS IS NOT REAL….!

“By the Book”
New York Times Book Review

Joseph Heywood

This weekly feature appears in the New York Time Book Review and features either authors of hot books, or writing greats and their latest offerings.  Interviews do not include we of the Rus Tribe.  The pub does not seek people like me in part because as I like to put it “outside New York is China.” New York has minimal interesting in rust-country scribblers, or in news from out here, UNLESS said report is written by some New York-based individual who travels out in these parts for a period of time (like hiking beyond the Pale) and imagines it to be terra incognito (Beyond here Dwell Dragons) where this stout individual has barely escaped with life and limb. But are they interested in  one of us who lives IN terra incognito, Nosiree Marie.

Let’s be clear on reality: My writing  career has gone from internationally unknown to regionally obscure and in that capacity this obscure author would tell them sure, you betcha, okey doke, wah! Seriously, who turns down the Failing New York Times (as it is termed in Presidentialese).

Okay, this isn’t real, but, as an author, I get paid to make things up — but here we go–

What books are currently on your nightstand?

The Farmer’s Almanac in large type.

What’s the last great book you read?

Out loud or to myself (without moving my lips)? The last great book I read was Stephen Greenblatt’s The Curve.

What’s the best classic novel you recently read for the first time?

Classic Comics, or classics without pictures? If the latter: Marcel Proust’s  À la recherche du temps perdu. And Lawrence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. Sterne’s work has some drawings. Does that eliminate it from the classic definition? I  read both last year. Plus Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front. Amazing read.

How do you organize your books?

Inside my home, in rooms, on shelves, in rows, tallest to shortest and (port to starboard). I have a library in excess of 25,000 volumes. Do you guys  have a better approach to organizing them?

Tell us about your favorites short stories:

My favorite was written by my late father in a high school class around 1937. The title was “The Game.” The narrative consisted of four words. “Rain, game called off.” Talk about flash fiction. I also like the stories of Stu Dybek and Bonnie Jo Campbell.

What moves you in a work of literature?”

Opening the book and finding a complete world I had not anticipated and probably could not imagine on my own.

What genres to you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I especially like bathroom and public graffiti, and cereal box promotional copy. I rarely read conservative Horatio Alger stories or the Federal Register, which is like reading  substandard pidgin-Klingon.

What’s the best book you’ve received as a gift?

Easy. Bear with me here: I grew up in a USAF family and we were flying back to the States after a 3 yr tour in Europe, and I came down with measles and the crew offloaded (dumped)  us in the Azores and I was hospitalized. The measles then passed from me to my brother and by the time we were healthy enough to travel again,  three weeks had passed. At one point in this stay, a MATS MedEvac came in from Germany, loaded with Section 8  and sundry psychiatric cases. One of the passengers got loose and the flight had to be delayed three days while the manhunt went on. The fellow was eventually located under a thick bush not six feet from the entrance to the hospital.  Meanwhile we had psych patients wandering all over the place and one came into my room and saw me doodling and next thing I knew he showed up with a book on how to draw cartoons.  He had gone to the PX and bought if for me, to encourage my drawing interests. I still have the book (though I couldn’t lay my hands on it with dispatch.  I also still draw cartoons. By far this was the best book gift I ever got.

Second best would have been Peyton Place, but by the time it reached me from my pals, it was pretty tattered from heavy teenage “reading.”

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, would you invite?

Well, no croaked-folk… putrescence does not  positively stimulate my appetite. But okay, I’d either invite James Salter, Mike Delp, and Bonnie Jo Campbell and we’d talk rivers and trout and all that romantic and savage outdoor stuff. Or I’d invite, Wm Shakespeare, Winston Churchill, and A.L Rowse, so I could sit  back and see if the Bard would bug out after suffering Rowse’s legendary arrogance, or if Churchill and the Bard will gang up on the big-headed professor. Talk about a great dinner party! I can’t wait. Will you guys set it up or do I have to ask some reporter from a press conference to do it?

 

Next up I’ll be fauxinterviewed by the retired Brian Lamb for  C-Span’s Booknotes.

Mike Delp Licensed Michigan fisherman and poet.
The late James Salter, fighter pilot, combat vet and the Writer’s Writer.

Dinner party guests:

Author Bonnie Jo Campell, country girl.
The Bulldog, Winston S. Churchill, adventurer, soldier, journalist, politician, war leader and author.
Wm Shaksper, Author.
Al Rowse, Oxford Prof, expert on Elizabethan England.

Fishing In-On My Mind

This is the introduction to a poetry collection called Fishing With The Famous. It is unlikely it will ever find a publisher, but the introduction is a good reminder that the 2017 fishing season is out there in front of us and most trouters will find anticipation building as we move from snow season to melt-down. Mostly I fish alone – physically speaking. Yet, more often than not I am accompanied metaphysically – in the astral plane — by someone most of us wouldn’t immediately equate with trout fishing. It started with imagining an outing with Mother Teresa and has gone on from there. Fishing alone is for a write a normal condition. The work we do doesn’t take place in committees or in groups. It can’t. Neither can fishing.  I fish when I writ,e and write when I fish. Here’s the first poem in the collection:

The late Mother Teresa

FISHING WITH THE FAMOUS #1

I ask Mother Teresa if I can
Call her Mother T,
And if she’s related to Mr. T,
Both known for their tenacity,
Wearing bling,
Twinkling their eyes, seeking spotlights
Etcetera.
Tiny as she is, I have to
Place her carefully in shallow riffles,
Her habit absorbing water like a sponge.
Naturally she wants to work the
Deepest, blackest holes,
She calls Calcutta-ish,
Wants to wade deep in the murk and mud,
Solve problems.
We catch no fish this day,
But coat the river with compassion.
(2002)

Fishing is not in the least bit an important activity – unless of course you are fishing for food to keep you and your family alive, in which case it becomes paramount. It’s the unimportance of fishing that creates it’s appeal, and ironically,  it’s not about actually catching fish; it’s about being out there in places where trout dwell, which are almost always remote and beautiful.

Personally I’ve never had one of those 100- or 200- fish days alleged by guzzlers in bars, fly shops and next to camp fires. At Six-and-Sixty I remain content catching and releasing seven-inch native brook trout from cramped and remote brooks and cricks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

As an author I’ve gotten numerous offers from folks to fish with them, even to wing away to places in Canada, Alaska and South America – or even more exotic destinations. I have only accepted one time – from a modest fellow who just wanted to show me where his dad taught him to fish for trout. We went, and treated it like church.

My basic personality is that of a loner. I participated in all sorts of group and team activities over my life and enjoyed and learned from them all. But I like doing things alone, which may help explain the reading, writing, and painting.

Usually main fishing partner has been God, not He Of The High Above, but Loosianian God, the former professor and corporate flack, a genteel gentleman of the old south (Baton Rouge) who fishes with an intensity and focus that borders on the rage of a Berserker. Me, I’m a  butterfly-watching meanderman of rivers, and because of this I tend to see a lot more of my surroundings than God, but since he made all the stuff it probably doesn’t hold the same allure it holds for me.

Some people, those who consistently catch fish, manage to stay fully focused on the task at hand. Me, I lean toward fey and easily entertained/distracted. Fishless days, of which I have many, are neither failures, nor wastes of time.

Most “real” trout fishermen  probably prefer to fish alone, not out of some sort of psychological disability, but because we like to be in our own little world, whether it’s daydreaming or fishing with intent. As you get older though, you realize it makes more sense to have a partner nearby – to give searchers a place to start looking for your body. (HINT: Always paint the bottoms of your wading boots bright orange. If you float your hat and die, this will help the divers find you faster.)

But finding partners is not easy. A fishing partner is in many ways far more important than just a close friend, and God knows’ they’re really hard to find.  You generally need to know someone pretty well before you take them to a river with you, and especially well before you take them to your secret places. It helps if your fishing partners are geographically challenged and easily disoriented and lost. My main fishing partners over the years have been God,  Bob Linsenman,  Steve Burton, Freddy Lee. Big Bo & his son Dano, my sons Tim and Troy, Robochef, Reginald the Yank-Canuck, and most recently Jambe Longues. I’ve fished with others on occasion, but these five are the ones I know, trust, and can rely on.

Fishing with a partner is in a lot of ways a misleading phrase. Rarely do you actually fish WITH your partner. You drive to a river and you say, you wanna to upstream or down, and your partner picks and you take the opposite and you agree to meet back at the truck at o-dark o’clock.

The great thing about imagining partners in verse is that you don’t actually have to fish with them.

In any event, the imaginings are mine and like fishing of no great overarching social value other than to keep me out of bars.

Tight lines in your minds. Over.