Books by Dick Cummins’ Bed

A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Dick left the “disappointment business” in 1979 when his agent dumped him and is just getting back into writing. With a vengence.

Books by my bed, under it, scattered around, in and on the dog bed—why we leave it there I don’t know, as retriever Sunny and part Akita Sassy Anne jump up on our queen as if it were going to be a two-dog night every night, except in the summer here in San Diego lows are stable around 68 degrees.

Anyway, in no particular order but just as I noted them after walking in there:

Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins by Perkins and John Hall Wheelock: Okay, but not what I was hoping for. Not done; may not finish.

West With the Night, Beryl Markham, but really written by Raoul Schumacher, her third husband: Hemingway said, “ . . . [she] can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves writers . . . “ and he was right, about Schumacher anyway. I have 600 hours in my log book and love this book—irrespective of flying and have actually read some trenchant passages twice!

Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor by Roy Blount, Jr.: Some excellent and funny stuff— various authors not well known but should be!

Subtle Is the Lord: The Science and Life of Albert Einstein by Abraham Pais: Skip the formulas. “The difference between politics and science: ‘Politics looks for the perfect compromise while science looks for the perfect truth.’ / ‘Time is so everything doesn’t happen at once.’ – A.E.

• After the Workshop: A Novel by John McNally: Good satirical send up of all things publishing and writing schools. Reviewed in “Loser Lit” section of Village Voice.

The Naturalist by Edward O. Wilson: My fav biologist. Wrote new text, Sociobiology: The New Synthesis, the biological basis of all forms of social behavior, ethology. Extremely interesting stuff!

Dice Have No Memory: Big Bets and Bad Economics from Paris to the Pampas by William Bonner: Great insights and a send up of incompetent economists.

Every Man in This Village is a Liar: An Education in War by Megan K. Stack: Lyrical journalism – covers the Iraq War and Afghanistan . . . a little purple but good enough. Finished a few weeks ago.

America, America by Ethan Canin: Catching up on current Workshop writers.

Helena Texas, the Toughest Town on Earth by Barry H. Harrin: This is research for a historical novel about the years just before and just after the Civil War in Texas. Think a good title will be The Life and Times of Sally Skull or The Second Civil War. The beautiful Ms. Skull was reputed to have killed 16 very rough men (two husbands out of her five possibly), loved to dance the fandango and play poker. Always rode with an Abigail Adams sunbonnet tied to her head and shot anyone who was foolish enough to make fun of her.

After the war, the several-bricks-short-of-a-hod “Knights of the Golden Circle” were plotting to reinstate slavery in Mexico and South America to corner the cotton market (cotton gin was new). They attacked a Mexican border town and got run off and that was that—but wonderful material!

Lost Hearts (short stories) by Vincent Panella: Our Workshop class of ’70. I did a review for him on Amazon. The best story is “Chicken Feet” about a young man who wants to be a writer and quits a boring engineering job, postpones a marriage and moves to San Francisco to try to write everyday for a year.




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