Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Well, here it is again – another book about to be born. On my return from Florida yesterday, I found the proof of OLD RIDGES, the 23rd book I’ve written. It’s a compilation of new poetry and short stories written throughout the last 45 years. In a few weeks, the book will appear on, and I’ll move on to other projects; namely, the revision of two mysteries that have been collecting dust in a box for at least twenty years.

The title, OLD RIDGES, seems to resonate with a lot of my readers, perhaps because many of my friends are in their sixth and seventh decades, and the reference to old ridges suggests aging. Some of the short stories include childhood experiences, such as “He Was Too Smart” and “The Book of 100 Stories;” others are satirical, especially a tongue-in-cheek one about the chaos in my church, the Episcopal Church of America. Then there are several stories about Iran and a really outrĂ© short story about a cane toad.

The thirty poems in this volume were written during my sojourn at Sewanee this year, a few of which appeared in previous blogs and two reflections/prose poems; one about a librarian friend, now deceased, and another about my godfather’s father who lived in the Mississippi Delta.

The collection has range, and perhaps there’ll be one that resonates with you. Here are a few opening paragraphs of a story straight out of my childhood entitled “The Book of One Hundred Stories:”

“You can’t check out books from the Adult Section.” Miss Riggs peered over the top of her black-rimmed glasses at Sarah, and her hand clamped down on the book Sarah had selected to take home. Miss Riggs’ blonde hair sprang up in violent corkscrews on her head and seemed to be the only alive part about her.

“This isn’t even fiction. It’s about growing up.” Sarah inched her fingers toward the forbidden book. “Who would care if I read The Mature Mind?”

“A rule is a rule. If we relax one, soon all the children will be in the Adult Section, reading things their minds can’t fathom.” Miss Riggs reddened to the roots of her disheveled hair.

“I won’t tell anyone,” Sarah said. “I’ve read every book in the Children’s Section, and my teachers always let me move on to more advanced reading.”

Sarah hated being eleven years old. She might as well be five, the way the librarian looked down on her. Maybe it was because she felt homely, but she couldn’t help having straight hair that no amount of bobby pins could curl and a long nose that mama said came from her Jewish great-grandma. Then too, her Grandma Nettie still made her these homemade dimity dresses with rickrack, high collars, and sashes that tied in the back. But she and Sonny Boy Murphy had read her dad’s sex manual and even knew how babies were made, if that’s what bothered Miss Riggs…”

OLD RIDGES will be available on in two weeks. See my other books at
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