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Stephen Evans

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Stephen is a playwright and author of The Marriage of True Minds, The Island of Always, Painting Sunsets, A Transcendental Journey, and Funny Thing Is: A Guide to Understanding Comedy

My Father's Birthday

Today would have been my father's 90th birthday, so I'm reposting this in his honor:

 

My Father The Writer

 

When I moved to Minneapolis (years ago), my father drove up with me. I spent three enthralled days on the road listening to him tell wonderful tales of growing up in Iowa: how he got his nickname Trapper (he was one); every job he ever held; how he met my mother; his time in the Navy during WWII. And how he wanted to be a writer.

After WWII, he enrolled at George Washington University to study journalism, though he had to drop out eventually to support his young family. Somewhere packed away, I have the draft of a novel he started. I don't know if there is a genetic component to writing, but his style reminds me a little of mine - quirky, fast, funny. But I could never match his storytelling bravado.

By the time The Marriage of True Minds was published, he had stopped reading. This was a great loss to him I know. For most of his life, he was a constant and intrepid reader of anything from English history to Louis L'Amour to Jean Auel's Earth's Children series (he would have been delighted to know that the last book in the series was coming out). We shared a special passion for adventure stories from the Forties by authors like Frank Yerby and Edison Marshall, Rafeal Sabatini and Harold Lamb. I would comb used bookstores and bring them to him like lost treasures out of the tales themselves.

We talked about writing a book together, about his boyhood days in Iowa. He even started making notes. The handwriting reflects the slow decline in his condition. I can't make out the last few words. The letters are too shaky.

 

I would have enjoyed writing that book. And I would have enjoyed reading it. He infused every tale with humor and joy in the telling. I imagine he could have been quite a writer. Instead he gave me the chance to be one. I guess that's what being a father is all about.  

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
This is a lovely commemoration on such a day. I know your father has left behind so many warm and vivid memories for others to tre... Read More
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 23:34
Stephen Evans
Thursday, 09 October 2014 03:51
1962 Hits
2 Comments

Three Practical Rules for Reading

The three practical rules, then, which I have to offer, are,—

1. Never read any book that is not a year old.

2. Never read any but famed books.

3. Never read any but what you like; or, in Shakspeare’s phrase,—

  

“No profit goes where is no pleasure ta’en:

In brief, sir, study what you most affect.” 

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Books

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Can't help feeling, Steve, that Shakespeare comes out of this a bit smarter than Emerson. Authors can't be peddling his notions in... Read More
Monday, 06 October 2014 23:54
Stephen Evans
In his defense, I think what made a book famous in his time was a little different. Other than Ulysses Grant I can't think of many... Read More
Tuesday, 07 October 2014 04:25
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2 Comments

Keyboard

For the last few months I have been going through boxes I had in storage, some for almost two decades. One of the boxes I found had some music in it and I have started playing the piano again, a little. 

Rodgers and Hart. Jerome Kern. Sigmund Romberg. I am not that old (quite),  but it is my period, musically. At heart I am a balladeer.

I was never a very good musician and I am much worse now. The piano belonged to my grandmother Daisy. She was amazing, could play anything by ear alone, an early compensation for her blindness in later life.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Piano.jpg

I did not inherit my grandmother's talent. Nor my grandfather's talent with the violin. Nor my father's ability to harmonize. I did inherit my mother's talent for listening, and enjoying.

Playing again, whatever the quality, has brought some of the joy back. For one, it's a good break from that other imperious keyboard. And it's nice to know we can rediscover at any age.

Now I wonder what is in the next box.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
The joy of that era is wonderfully infectious. I love it. And, as vintage years approach, find I prefer those shows, musicals and ... Read More
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 12:12
Stephen Evans
Or to put it another way: the music in the head is better than the music from the hands. ... Read More
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 15:34
Sue Martin Glasco
Stephen, I understood this completely. That is how I feel about art. I so wanted to have artistic talent, but didn't. Finally, ... Read More
Thursday, 02 October 2014 02:33
2428 Hits
6 Comments

Faulkner's Birthday

In honor of William Faulkner's birthday, here is the first line of Absalom Absalom:

 

From a little after two o'clock until almost sundown of the long still hot weary dead September afternoon they sat in what Miss Coldfield still called the office because her father had called it that – a dim hot airless room with the blinds all closed and fastened for forty-three summers because when she was a girl someone had believed that sight and moving air carried heat and that dark was always cooler, and which (as the sun shone fuller and fuller on that side of the house) became latticed with yellow slashes full of dust motes which Quentin thought of as being flecks of the dead old dried paint itself blown inward from the scaling blinds as wind might have blown them.

 

and a link to his Nobel prize speech:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1949/faulkner-speech.html

 

 

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
The Sound and the Fury has been on my shelf for three decades or more, but I've never got round to reading it, or any of Faulkner'... Read More
Friday, 26 September 2014 15:41
Stephen Evans
Faulkner is a taste not easily acquired; the prose is only difficult at first, though some of his shorter novels such as The Old M... Read More
Friday, 26 September 2014 19:06
1466 Hits
2 Comments

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