March 27, 2007
I have written three books.
The first, Meet Me at the Butterfly Tree, may be the only one ever to get published (so, Readers, run right away to amazon.com and order a copy!). If I were to pick it up, never having read it, I would say that it is a good read, and a great gift book if you've just moved to Fairhope and are looking for ways to explain to your friends why you like it. However, I maintain that it is about a great deal more than the Fairhope of my youth, or the Fairhope of Bob Bell's rhapsodic memory. It is about learning life from an extraordinary selection of people who happened to live in the same place at the same time. That they chose Fairhope was not an accident -- and while Bob Bell in the book talks of Fairhope as being magical, my experience with it was more down-to-earth. I was a little kid in the presence of a village of quirky, brilliant grownups. I was provided a life by the interest they showed in me.
What made Fairhope Fairhope was the subject of my second book, When We Had the Sky. This one has made the rounds of publishers and now languishes in the slush pile up at New South Publishing in Montgomery. I have spoken with Randall Williams, who told me that he'd get around to reading it "in two months or two years." It's been way over two months, but not quite two years, so I'm thinking he'll never get to it, or at least that he's put it aside as did the University of Alabama Press and River City Publishing, both of whom said it's a wonderful book but not of interest to enough people to justify the investment they'd have to make to publish it.
What it contains is some history -- for example, a chapter on Clarence Darrow's visit to Fairhope in 1927, and another on Upton Sinclair, who lived here for a year in the early 1900's -- and some social commentary on the way things are going in Fairhope, the inevitable destruction of historic buildings to make way for things the newcomers find important, like a library the size of the Taj Mahal but without the architectural appeal. I also wrote a chapter about the last of the "Fairhope characters," Dian Stitt Arnold and her mentor Blanche Brown, their love of horses and their courage to live their lives with no regard to what others thought of them. A friend has persuaded me to leave a copy of When We Had the Sky over at the Marietta Johnson Museum to provide those who might be interested with some insights into the town that has meant so much to so many.
My third book, 70 Isn't Old Any More, isn't about Fairhope at all, but about how to be happy throughout the decade preceding turning 70. It has been rejected by one New York agent, and is in the hands of a second one. I'm thinking most of it will end up here, posted on this blog, as tidbits on how to live a life even if you're not in Fairhope.
Just for fun I've started a second blog. This one is about food. I discovered a website called Chowhound and decided to write a food blog myself. You can get there, if you're interested, by clicking here or on the link in my links column.
Could be I'm spreading myself too thin. Could be I'm writing about life instead of living it. Well, that'll change too, and for now, I'm not worried.