November/December 2010

Musin’s and Thinkin’s

A Monthly Stroll Down Folksy Byways

with Jack Pendarvis

The question I get more often than any other is “How did you become such a puckish, impish sprite, seemingly not born so much as deposited on Earth via moonbeam?” The second most frequent question is “Do you wash your face in a tiny basin made from the cup of an acorn?”

That one’s easy. I just say, “I’ll tell, but you have to catch me first!” And I whisk myself away, leaving behind a spray of effervescent stardust and an echo of lilting laughter.

The former question is more complicated. Short answer: Mental outlook. The outcomes of so many challenges are determined by the attitude with which we choose to face them.

Allow me to elucidate, using events from my own life. Once I thought I would be a renowned artiste in the world of letters. Such was my pretension! I spent seven years working on my epic bildungsroman, Someone Is Murdering the World’s Great Pornographers, still unpublished. In those days, I was dark and brooding and nothing could make me happy. Perhaps my folksy good humor existed, but I had done my best to bury it deep inside. The world had told me that such feelings were improper and shameful. Better by far to be a skulking existentialist in a black turtleneck than an easygoing schlub in suspenders and a checkered shirt just shooting the breeze, or so circumstances conspired to have me believe. Also the existentialist smokes one of those thin little cheroots and the schlub needs a straw hat and work boots.

Failure to achieve recognition took its inevitable toll. Each dismissive telegram from an ivory tower struck like a poniard in my bitter soul! As the rejection slips mounted, however, they ironically helped me discover the sunny side of every scribbler’s life. Some call it “liquid happiness.” Others prefer “the poet’s inspiration” or “the evening dew.” I am referring, of course, to formaldehyde, which can be imbibed in small quantities.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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Jack Pendarvis has written three books.

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