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3 responses to “Excerpt from Don Wallace’s New Memoir”

  1. Dick Cummins


    Good to meet you in person finally (and brother Alex) at your Barnes and Noble book signing Sunday!

    An afternoon of book sales and tall tales all right.

    Guess I was the only one there that had actually had a chance to read any of ‘La Maison…’ – well half of it – as it only arrived from Amazon in Saturday’s mail.

    BTW, think you should consider reading a sample of the narrative at these signing/promotions. Bet sophisticated readers would want to hear a bit of the ‘music’ before buying the record. I remember suggesting to the nice-sized audience that they might want to pick a “La Mais” from the signing table and just read the first sentence of Chapter 8, ‘French Regulatory Style’.

    “To a couple of kids raised on the melodramatic landscapes of Hawaii and California, Belle Ile was as subtle as an exhalation of wild rosemary after a summer rain, a tone poem of open fields, cypress windbreaks and neatly clustered villages, all encircled by a fractal fringe of coves, cliffs and beaches.”

    The sotto voce of ‘rosemary fragrance’ and the vite of ‘…fractal fringe of coves, cliffs and beaches’ should be enough to set a hook into the mouth of any music appreciation bookworm. (I know that’s supposed to be ‘fish’, but the metaphor wriggled out of my hand!)

    Link to some lovely photos that illustrate the diminuendo and fortissimo of Belle Ile en Mer: BTW

    Also “La Mais” should be promoted to the millions of debt-ridden young writing wannabes (fiction MFA’s scrolled in a back pocket) as an instructive read to disabuse them of romantic notions of Paris life, of writing in sidewalk cafés and suffering on one meal and many caraffes of cheap wine a day —— as did Hem and Fitz —— supposedly.

    And didn’t you say in the book Don, that in the 80’s when you tried this literary inspired suffering, Paris was overrun with these young romantics? Long lines waiting outside Western Union for money to get a plane ticket home, back to the more realistic aspirations of LSATs or a GED teaching job. God, what must it be like now?

    Anyway, hope your tour continues to be fun and profitable! And need travel stories too, a la “Innocents Abroad’…

  2. Don Wallace


    Thank you. You came, you saw, you commented intelligently and best of all you roused the crowd into buying copies of The French House. I need you at all my readings.

    The advice to actually read instead of talk is sound. I actually did read a page at my Long Beach reading the following day. It seemed to go okay.

    So, I too enjoyed our meeting at the giant mall of Encinitas–although we did meet once before, in Iowa, you playing first base I believe with a giant mitt on your hand. You looked like Popeye making a fist.

    Anyway, also enjoyed the burritos afterwards, and you giving my brother a taste of the roaring writing life. He’d never experienced anything like it. Hopefully he’ll show me more respect from now on.



  3. Dick Cummins


    Aloha in! You are correct of course – we did see each other at the 75th reunion softball game. Didn’t speak but do remember you showing up mid-innings. But did not hear you cheering for the liars who needed a come-from-behind surge to beat the poseys.

    I’d been playing smash-mouth softball in the San Diego senior leagues – with retired Marine drill sergeants BTW – for years, so I was locked and loaded – ready for revenge – played with a vengeance!

    This was because the last workshop fiction v. poetry game (more than 40 years ago) had our hungover Bill Fox-managed perjurers losing to Don Justice’s iambics-from-hell by at least 10 runs!

    Donald Justice was a kick-ass competitive poet – ask Dan Guenther who had him for class! Made his softball team practice in early fall and late spring snows. Excessive heat was a challenge. Made the poseys practice when even postmen stayed home.

    And there were rumors that he took over a year’s salary from Nelson Algren in those storied all-night workshop poker games too!

    Anyway, the 75th was time for payback! And BTW, if you will recall, our fabulists did come from behind for a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth! Sweet…

    Ah the nobility of human endeavor … Aloha out! dc