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KIRKO UNTO THE BREACH!
The McClanamania Kickstarter campaign was, oh my, way beyond successful:
Our official Kickstarter goal was $10,000, and in the allotted 30 days we raised $13,048. Nonetheless, it was wonderfully exciting right down to the final bell, because the total kept rising even though we'd already reached the goal on Day 28. Two or three additional McClanabackers showed up on our doorstep after the campaign was officially over, begging us to take their money; we relented and let them in, bringing our total to about $13,400. Then along came Kirko.
My friend Kirk O'Green — Kirko — is a latter-day Prankster from the Detroit neck of the hoods; he's a videographer and media producer, a very savvy guy--or so I would've thought before I suckered him into my Kickstarter campaign to the tune of 750 bucks for a day-trip from Lexington up to Maysville, my hometown. And then he made the even costlier mistake of mentioning that he "really liked those gold boots"--referring of course to the fabled Hoyt Axton/Ken Kesey gold cowboy boots, which were our high-end Kickstarter attention-grabber reward item, priced to sell at a very modest $2750. "Let me know if they don't sell," Kirko went on, indicating, as I (correctly) understood it, a lust to own the boots coupled with a reluctance to cough up 2750 simoleons for the privilege. So when the Kickstarter campaign ended, I wrote him an email:
Kirko's answer came as quick as an eyeblink: "SOLDARINO!"
We were then planning our lavish rat-cheese-and-boxed-wine Redemption & Fulfillment Blow-Out at our Lexington artist friend Johnny Lackey's nifty little studio and gallery, which, on a stormy Saturday evening in early November, we packed to the rafters. You shoulda been there! It was a fine party, complete with a once-in-a-lifetime rendition of "Aba Daba Honeymoon" by me and my forever amigo, the inimitable Gurney Norman. Kirko and his son Geoffrey were there, and the boots fit Geoff as though he were a reincarnation of Hoyt Axton, ca. 1983. The next day we made the trip to Maysville, where I'd been invited to read in the very building that had once housed the drugstore where I'd been a soda jerk in 1949--and we had another full house! Wotta weekend!
The CDs are exactly what I had dared to hope they'd be: meticulously produced and packaged, and not a hiccup on 'em. Jack Wright, our Audio Producer, did a masterful job of making me sound flawless (which I most assuredly ain't), and Nyoka Hawkins, Executive Producer Extraordinaire, did a masterful job of, well, everything else. Repeat: Everything! She researched the Kickstarter process to a fare-thee-well, arming herself with an understanding of its intricacies and subtleties—trust me, they are many—, she and our multi-talented friend Myra Hughes set up and maintained a Facebook presence for me, she handled the business end of the whole operation, she designed the (beautiful!) packaging of the CDs, she even persuaded her illustrious spouse, the aforementioned Gurney Norman, to lend his hallowed name to the project. Nyoka did it all, and a whole lot more besides.
The campaign itself was a deeply satisfying admixture of hard work and fun, anxiety and relief, sacrifices and rewards. I hated to give up the boots, of course, not to mention all the other great stuff I parted company with, but the fact that after I’m long gone I can still tell my stories—out loud! in my own voice!—on these CDs brings me immeasurable personal pleasure and satisfaction.
I Just Hitched in From the Coast
Counterpoint Press has published, as a paperback original, a new collection of my stories titled I JUST HITCHED IN FROM THE COAST: THE ED McCLANAHAN READER. The book is a gathering of 14 stories, both fiction and non-fiction, including, to my unspeakable and no doubt insufferable delight, all three stories in A CONGRESS OF WONDERS, my favorite book, which has been out of print for a long time. (My friend and collaborator and cohort Tom Marksbury has been immeasurably helpful in the process of assembling the collection, and is officially its editor.) This is a big fat old book — 288 action-packed pages! — and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
And you don't have to take my word for it. Here's a review from the pages of Relix Magazine:
But wait, there's more! Here's another long-delayed announcement:
Wind Press has just published HORSEFEATHERS: STORIES FROM ROOM 241, a contributor-edited anthology by the students in a University of Kentucky undergraduate Advanced Creative Writing Class I ostensibly taught in the Fall of 2009. The book, which is available on Amazon and in local bookstores, is a sprightly, eclectic collection of fiction and memoir. Scotty Adkins, one of the contributors, is the Associate Editor, I copy-edited the stories and wrote an introduction, and Johnny Lackey, bless his artistic little heart, did that terrific block print cover (above) for us.
In October I visited classes and did readings and signings with my old Prankster pal Ken Babbs at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, our mutual alma mater. (I graduated in '55, Babbs in '58) .
Babbs presented his first novel, WHO SHOT THE WATER BUFFALO? (Overlook Press, 2011), the original draft of which he wrote almost 50 years ago, when he was a Marine helicopter pilot in the very early days of the Vietnam War.
You can read my reflections on my long friendship with Babbs—and on his wonderful book, including the blurb I wrote for him, here.
On October 12, Babbs and I brought our two-man show down to Lexington, where we read at Morris Bookshop in their beautiful new Chevy Chase location. Check out some great pictures of the Morris Bookshop signing taken by Matt Goins, courtesy of the fine folks at the Lexington Herald-Leader by clicking here. Go ahead. You know you want to.
Here also, belatedly, is a very good piece (with an equally good sidebar interview) that appeared in LEO, the Louisville alt-weekly.
BREAKING NEWS! I have a new project which has just supplanted THE RETURN OF THE SON OF NEEDMORE, my novel-in-(so-called)-progress, at the top of my to-do list: Suddenly and really quite unexpectedly, I find myself working not on my novel but on a memoir about myself and my father, which I'm calling "Hatchling of the Chickasaw." The provenance of this undertaking is sort of interesting in its own right, and is described in the first installment of the story, which has just been published in North of Center, a small activist Lexington monthly. You can read it now on the Writings page.
I've been working sporadically for the last several years on a novel which I usually describe as "a sort of left-handed, latter-day sequel" to THE NATURAL MAN, titled THE RETURN OF THE SON OF NEEDMORE, in which Harry Eastep, the point-of-view character in NATURAL MAN, returns to his hometown after a career in academia on the West Coast, and finds himself on the jury in a murder trial. Readers who remember NATURAL MAN may be interested to know that much of SON OF NEEDMORE is in the form of flashbacks, in one of which the late Monk McHorning makes a cameo appearance, and that Oodles Ockerman, who has survived the intervening years, also looms large (so to speak) in the foreground of the story. Sample chapters from the book — "Harry at the Breach," "Freejack," and "Poodad" — are posted on the "Writings" page of this website.
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