• The Hemingway Legend
  • Imitating Football
  • Where are the big names?
  • Low Rents Attract Young Writers & Artists
  • Hometown Book Ideas
  • Writers & Creativity
  • Write it and They Will Come
  • We Must Avoid WW3

Articles by Carroll Trosclair unless otherwise indicated

The Hemingway Legend

Okay, there goes another hero of my youth. Line’em up:  Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Charles Lindbergh, Douglas MacArthur, Babe Ruth, now Ernest Hemingway. Historians, commentators, columnists, television and Hollywood have taken turns setting them up, then shooting  them down, one-by-one. FDR has taken some bad shots, but hangs on in my book.  Lou Gehrig and Joe Dimaggio remain on pedestals as far as I’m concerned.

It took Mary V. Dearborn, the first female historian to tackle Hemingway’s legend, to bring him down, with a loud thud.  In her 730-page biography, “Ernest Hemingway,” she even tags him with some characteristics similar to those of a current politician.

Historian Elaine Showalter was just as brutal in her New York Times review of Dearborn’s book.  She said Hemingway”deserted his Paris wife, Hadley Richardson, and in three more marriages became more demanding of women’s adulation and service, more selfish and abusive.”

Dearborn also quotes Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, saying: “A man must be a very great genius to make up for being such a loathsome human being.”

Whoa, that’s not the guy I read about in school.

But Dearborn and Showalter have more, writing about his alcoholism and “hair fetish.” They say his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, dissuaded him from wearing earrings, warning him the rings would “have a deleterious effect” on his reputation. But the author’s reference to Hemingway’s “persistent confusion about gender identity” just increases our confusion.

Dearborn also said Hemingway was “constructing myths about himself before he got off the boat” heading back to Paris after the war. And, she added, by the 1940s he was telling “tall tales” about his war experiences, “an exaggeration or lie in nearly every sentence.“

After Hemingway wrote “Across the River and Into the Trees,” his friend, John Dos Passo, asked how can a man leave such garbage “on the page?”

Guess I’ll just have to focus on “The Sun Also Rises,” Hemingway’s crisp writing style and “The Old Man and the Sea.”

There must be some legend left there.


Partnering With and Imitating Football

With football season approaching on the playground, high school, college and professional levels, it might be time to consider some adjustments for the book industry.  Playing football and watching the games live or on television steals potentially millions of hours of reading time.

Until I’ve come up with an income stream for my new Twitter publishing strategy (a Page per Tweet or Tweet per Page), I suggest the book industry ally with football rather than fight it.  Authors and booksellers should produce more books about the game, its fans, players, coaches, cheerleaders, problems, costs, faults, scandals, etc.  

They should also build book excitement the way football does: by cheering about it.

How about scattering a few pages of cheers for the industry within the pages of fiction and nonfiction?  There’s certainly enough creativity in the industry to handle that. Then the readers can pause a few moments, sip a bit of wine or other favorite beverage, let out a few cheers for the pleasures of reading (or that favorite author), then get back, rejuvenated, to the plot.

Better yet, the industry could really step up the excitement by inserting pre-recorded disks of cheers in its books. They could even include band music. Might have to add a few pennies to the book prices, but it should be cost effective.

Hey, it’s all worked for football.

However, I don’t see any way of bringing real cheerleaders into our reading rooms. Pity.

Where are the Big Names

When Gladin Scott announced the closing of the 53-year-old Maple Street Book Shop he tried to explain the reasons the New Orleans icon had failed in the past year. He focused on two reasons: The recent lack of a big name author or book and political distractions to reading.

He explained that his Christmas sales depended heavily on “All the Light We Cannot See” for three straight years.  “Can’t we move on, he asked.

And, Scott added, his mostly left-leaning client base was too pre-occupied with the 2016-17 political uproar to have much time for reading books.

Both situations are curable with time, but Scott and his store did not have any more time.

And then, of course, there is Amazon...

There was another issue which Scott did not mention. His slogan, “Fight the Stupids,” is cute and has probably drawn a lot of attention for the store. But just as Hillary Clinton’s “deplorables” description of Trump voters backfired in the presidential campaign, the “Stupids” slogan might have turned off some prospective customers.

“Since I haven’t been there, they think I’m stupid, so I’m not going there.”

We’re told that negatives work in political campaigns, but voters and customers wear different hats. And must be addressed and counted differently.

We’ll probably never know.

Low Rents Attract Young Writers/Artists

Young writers have traditionally and necessarily flocked to low rent districts, like the New Orleans dilapidated French Quarter was early in the 1920s.  The cheap shelter attracted already-famous author Sherwood Anderson and his family to the now-fabled Pontable apartments and a literary colony was born.  So was a literary magazine named "The Double Dealer," which sounded like something Huey Long would have started.  The magazine flourished, or at least survived, from 1921 to 1926, attracting writers like Anderson, William Faulkner, Ernest Heminway and Robert Penn Warren. Le Petite Theater moved from Uptown to the Quarter, adding to the historic area's boheman character. The New York Times called the Quarter "Greenwich Village on Royal Street." Silas Bent, the New Orleans Historic Colllection recalls, raved about the Quarter's "charm." And he added: "Not elsewhere on this continent I verily believe, may be found such a background for the arts, nor nourishment for them so rich and plentiful."  But the growth of the colony contributed to its own demise.  Rents rose, apartments were updated and the writers and artists moved elsewhere, making room for a much more affluent clientel. The Pontalba now maintains a long waiting list for its apartments.

Writers and Creativity

Writers, I guess, are creative by nature and some exhibit that creativity in the lives they lead, even in brief descriptions of themselves.  Our unique group includes at least one lawyer, sailor, aviator, economist, a travel consultant, economist, proofreader and engineer, as well as multiple editors, mothers, artists, fathers, wives and  teachers. Here’s what a few have written when introducing themselves on Twitter:

Kay Woods says she’s a writer and painter and “plays lead ukulele for Glitter Butt and the Fidget Spinners.”
Uvi Poznansky says “I paint with a pen, write with a paintbrush.”

Katheryn Lane suggests readers “open one of my books and escape on a romantic adventure, because it’s easier to buy a book than it is to book an air ticket.”
Gae-Lynn Woods describes herself as a “jazz lover, fence fixer, pretty good post-hole digger” and a “Texas crime fiction writer because some folks just need killin'”
Kathy L. Hall says her “greatest inspirations are usually delivered in a dream.”
Russell Blake confesses to being an “anti-clown activist. Professional nude ice dancer & ex-CIA agent. Pathological liar.”
You can believe whatever part of that you wish.
Tamar Hela says she is “just a California girl, living in a Shanghai world!”
Daniel Kemp identifies himself as “a London taxi driver, ex London police officer, publican and mini-cab office owner.”
Aidan Stone says he “lives in fantasy world, makes rare stops in reality.”
Natalie Dietz describes herself as an “aspiring artist, poet, and writer. Let's just say, I can't stick to one thing.”
Agent Bertram say he is “‏protagonist of the Bertram & Gertrude Amsterdam Spy Thrillers. Thoroughly decent chap. Always short of funds, so please buy my books!”
Paul Cude identifies himself as a “‏dedicated husband, chauffeur (my kids), field hockey player, author ('Bentwhistle the Dragon' Series) and teaching assistant.”
Antoinette J Houston says she is a “multi-genre author & Etsy seller of unique leather jewelry. Owner of a wild imagination and the ability to get lost in her daydreams.”
Dana Griffin writes “airline thrillers” and adds: “When our dogs allow, I fly Boeing 737s for a US airline.”
Andy Butler‏ “generally enjoys pulling ideas apart to discover if they are true or not” and “ mocking politicians.”
Misha Gericke says “welcome to my little corner of writing insanity.”
MPax is a self-described “author for those who love to escape this world. Mostly SciFi and Fantasy. The weird beckons to me. I blame Oregon. Enter my Dimension.”
James Clear says he is an “author on habits and human potential. Good things happen to me for no apparent reason. If you need me, I'm probably eating a taco.”
Stephen Ames Berry says he is a “writer, herder of cats” and “shepherd of dreams.”as well as ”author of the BIOFAB science fiction series and The Eldridge Conspiracy.”
Steve Umstead says he is a “science fiction author, semiprofessional swim-up bar tester, proud father of two best kids on the planet.” (But I thought my three were!)
Helen Hanson owns up to being a “thriller writer, ex-droness, Redwood Curtain exile, wine sipper, hacky sack duffer, misfit, & seed patron to avians.”
Christopher Petersen identifies himself as a “dad, engineer, climber, pilot, mountain biker, author, adventurer (and) story teller.”
Melodie Ramone says she is a “novelist, mom, non-repentant music lover…certified kitchen witch (and) a goddess with a Godzilla twist. I am my mother's savage daughter.”
Gail Koger calls herself a“slightly demented writer.” Her Twitter address is @Askole .

Another writer describes himself as “designated drinker.”

Welcome to the world of authors, imagination and creativity.

(More to come, someday.)

Hometown Book Ideas

Local and visiting writers literally pounce on New Orleans icons and customs for book ideas.  This weekend authors were showing and signing books at JazzFest on such subjects as a local grocery man (John Schwegmann), a French Quarter hot dog (Lucky Dogs), Louisiana dance halls, coffee and cooking ("Chicory and Roux"), local bars ("Drink Dat New Orleans") and "Fred the New Orleans Drummer Boy." 

Checking the book possibilities in your home town?

Write it and they will.....

Where do all these novel authors come from?

When I was growing up, admittedly ages ago, it seemed like we could count the world’s novels, and novelists, on a couple of hands.  Probably not true, but that’s the way it seemed.

Today it seems we have hundreds, or at least dozens, popping up every day.  Mysteries. Science fiction. Historical fiction. Teen novels.  Romances.  Horror.  Sports fiction. You name the genre, people have had the imagination, time and skill to write a novel about it.

And we have schools, classes, teachers and consultants to encourage and instruct us how to write and market more.

But how many readers do we have to buy them? Has anyone researched those numbers?

Probably doesn’t make any difference.  Writers will just keep writing them, whatever the numbers.  That’s just what they do. They get an idea and they write.  They’re not like corporate execs who determine the size of a market and then produce a product.  Novelists are like the dreamers who say: Build it and they will come.

Write it and they will buy?

Well, sometimes.


We Must Avoid WW3

Nothing that we debate, argue or write about today is more important than the avoidance of World War III.

We ignore the obvious danger signs, but the odds of engaging in that war are probably much higher now than they were just a few months ago. The saber rattling is loud and frightening.

The war on terrorism is horrible. Its greatest danger is that it could lead to a third global war between major nations, as could other current issues

WWIII would likely cost hundreds of millions of lives.

Nothing approaches the need to avoid that war.