Faith


Why? You ask.

Well, it’s 5 and 1 day.

It’s the fifth anniversary of my diagnosis of stage four pancreatic cancer. And, according to some statisticians, that means I am now a member of the 1 percent club — those who are still ticking five years after their diagnosis. I’ve never been a member of a one percent of anything.

God has blessed me, for whatever reason.

It's 5 and 1 day

It’s 5 and 1 day

When I was diagnosed in 2010, I saw five oncologists. One said three months. One said nine months. I even went for a second opinion to MDAnderson, a cancer center of excellence in Houston. The doctor there was very smug and suggested nine months.

I have been blessed to have some wonderful doctors. Dr Alan in Dallas and Dr. Jerry here in Austin have been a real blessing to me. Their nurses (Jean, Colleen, Anna, Thomas and Hannah)  have made me feel like family, and who can turn down a warm blanket?

So, over five years, I have been blessed to walk my daughter down the aisle to marry Rick. Along with Patti, I’ve been there to welcome Grayson, Rick and Casey’s baby girl. I got to see my son return to college. I celebrated my 65th birthday, even though no male member of the Aldridge family over three generations celebrated their 57th birthday. Patti and I celebrated our 30th anniversary. I got to enjoy time with Patti’s father and my mother before they passed. I get to enjoy life with friends and family.

Most importantly, I got reacquainted with my spiritual beliefs. I have no doubt been blessed by God, and I celebrate His presence every day. Our God is a loving god and I have been fortunate to be surrounded by his protective feathers (Psalm 91). He is the reason I am still here, I am convinced. I try to thank Him every day with praise and prayers of thanks/gratitude. He helps me smile every day. Thank you, Lord.

*****

The picture you see here is a celebratory one. For the 5 and 1 anniversary, Casey and Rick arranged for the state flag to be flown over the Texas Capitol in my honor. Brought me to tears. What an overwhelming gift.

To all my friends and family, I thank you for your prayers and wishes of well being. I hope you enjoy God’s love as I have and it brings joy to your hearts. God bless you all.

Grayson gets me to smile every time I see her.

Grayson gets me to smile every time I see her.

Some years ago, I heard the term “bucket list” for the first time. I understood immediately what it meant. Since then, several friends and family have shared with the Cancer-Boy what the bucket list means to them. And, to be honest, as a stage-four pancreatic cancer patient, I get asked quite often what is on my bucket list.

When Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson made the movie “The Bucket List,” I had to see it. I’m worn out with Jack Nicholson, but will go see anything with Morgan Freeman.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when the two men are sitting atop an Egyptian pyramid and looking out over the desert.

Spectacular. Beautiful.

While Patti and I don’t talk about bucket lists often, or ever, she pulled one over on me a few weeks ago.

She made the following arrangements and surprised me with them. She managed for us to go to the Grand Canyon. Knowing how often I fall, even with my cane or walker … on a flat surface, for a fleeting moment, I thought this may be a life insurance ploy.

We flew to Flagstaff and took a cab to nearby Williams, Arizona. At Williams, people can take an old-fashioned train from Williams to the South Rim of the canyon. While on the train, people keep you entertained with skits and comedy, while you look at the spectacular scenery passing by you. Pine trees, wind farms, desert areas and mountainous areas. It was beautiful.

Once at the South Rim, as soon as we disembarked from the train, there were motor coaches within a few steps. Their purpose is to take people along the South Rim and make periodic stops at beautiful locations, for visitors to leave the bus, walk for a little and take marvelous pictures. All the while focusing on the safety of the customers.

On our day at the canyon, the weather was beautiful — loads of sunshine and periodic clouds. The rails along the paths are perilously close to the canyon cliffs. If someone were so inclined to step over the rail, to the cliff side, it would be a painful death. The trails were occasionally smooth and others were craggy and more of a challenge to someone like me who used either a cane of a walker.

Soaking up the beauty of the Grand Canyon

Soaking up the beauty of the Grand Canyon

At the first stop, Patti and I stepped out and walked to the rail. I lost it at the first stop. Teary-eyed like a new-born. Right in front of my eyes was a true miracle of nature that God had worked on since the beginning of time and, judging by the speed of the Colorado flowing rapidly beneath us, He was still at work.

The geographic layers of the exposed mesas and craggy rock formations were truly impressive. Did I want to hike to the bottom? No. Did I have a respect for those who did, or those riding the Colorado in boats? Yes, definitely. Did I enjoy the views from every stop?  Absolutely. They were beautiful and incomparable.

As we were enjoying the spectacular beauty, Patti and I soaked up just about every site that came our way. Funny thing, though. I never thought of this as a “bucket list” event. Not once.

Later that afternoon, we rode the train back to Williams, satisfied that we had been witnesses to such wonder and been affected by it.

While we were riding back to Williams, I silently began thinking while I was watching the landscape pass before us. I have had a full     life. I have seen loads of national parks, like Yellowstone, the Badlands, Carlsbad Caverns, Devils’s Tower, the Everglades, Pike’s Peak, Rockie Mountain National Park, Mt. Rushmore among others.

And, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel when I was younger. I climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower; saw Napolean’s Tomb; climbed very partially up the Eiger in Switzerland; got high as a kite off grass in a park in Amsterdam; saw Jersey cows on Jersey island off the English coast; was overwhelmed visiting Le Mont St. Michel, an abbey in the ocean just off the French coast; loved viewing the Kon-Tiki in Oslo and taking the fjord-riddled train ride from Oslo to Bergen.

But when I think of “bucket lists now”, those images usually don’t appear much any more. But, every day that God gives me, I can wake up and see Patti smile, my “bucket list” is full … even overflowing.

 

 

First, folks, I apologize for not posting more frequently. I now have more things to share, so posting will occur, hopefully, more often.

*****

There is a song that Country balladeer George Strait sings periodically. It is called “I Saw God Today,” and it is truly a beautiful song that will bring just about everyone to tears. I know I have shed my share of tears when hearing the song.

So why am I bringing this song up? Well, I saw God the other day, and I thought I would share my experience with you.

Grayson Mae Reed

Grayson Mae Reed

On this particular day, Casey and Patti had taken Rick’s truck to pick up some furniture. Our three-month granddaughter, Grayson Mae was riding in her car seat in the back seat of the truck. Casey backed the truck into our driveway and she and Patti were unloading the furniture into the garage.

I asked if there was anything I could do to help. Patti told me that Grayson was crying in her car seat and could I please try to soothe her some?

I opened the door and saw my granddaughter sitting there in her car seat. There were crystal clear water drops at the edge of her beautiful blue eyes and her mouth was frowning. There may have even been a drop or two beneath her tiny nose; she was upset.

I started talking to her in a gentle, quiet voice, almost whispering. I told her what a beautiful young lady she was, how she was going to break a lot of hearts as she grew, that she would be the source of many wonderful memories from those who had the chance to get to know her, again how beautiful she was and repeated a lot of what I had just told her.

Grayson can see wonder too

Grayson can see wonder too

During these few moments, she kept staring at me, but her expressions kept changing. She stopped crying and for a few moments she seemed to be assessing me. Who was I? Why was I talking the way I was talking? What was I saying? Was I really talking to her? Did I really mean what I was saying?

I kept smiling as I spoke to her and after a few minutes I noticed that she no longer cried, but she was smiling … smiling at me. The look on her face left me breathless. I just stood there in awe of the range of emotions I was seeing on her face.

I saw the face of God, His Son and the Holy Spirit in that face at that moment. It seemed like every bit of knowledge there was on this earth was showing through those eyes. Immediately, she seemed to exude all the red lines from the Bible and show them without saying a word.

I stood there and just watched, my emotions completely overwhelming me as I saw her go from a crying baby to this infinitely radiating beauty who wanted to show just about every emotion at one moment … and she was in control of showing them.

I do feel I saw God that day and am so thankful for that chance. I know that for most of us, we see the spirit of God, His Son and the Holy Spirit at work in sometimes every day things. When I am down here at Stagecoach Trails, here in Buda, I can sit on one of the benches and feel I hear God whispering to me through the limbs and leaves of trees, the grasses and the solitude of so very little noise. He mostly whispers, but sometimes He’s laughing, too. Where do you see God speaking to you?

The expression

The expression “wrapped around her little finger” is not lost on me.

But He’s all around us, every moment of every day. Sometimes His presence is in the face of the small, three-month old baby.

Sometimes, as I meet people, I inevitably get the question of what it is like to live with stage four pancreatic cancer. Am I angry at God? No. Do I feel like a portion of my life has been taken from me? No. Have my dreams been squelched? Maybe. I can’t play golf any more, but I really don’t care. When I can look into the face of my granddaughter and see the face of God I think that is a good tradeoff. I see beauty in places, things and people that I never would have noticed, had I continued to work, remained under strong work-related stress and looked at things differently than I do now. I am thankful for that.

So, I am thankful to God for the blessings and gifts He has given me through the cancer. I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to get reacquainted with my faith had it not been for the cancer diagnosis. I smile every day and am living the life I feel I wanted to live my entire life. And, if I can see the face of God in my granddaughter, Grayson Mae, I don’t think anything can be better than that.

*****

On the health side, I am back on chemo, every two weeks. Smaller dosages of gemcitabine and no abraxane. I have lost weight. No appetite or hunger; consequently a little weaker. I use a cane and walker now. But also as the liver begins breaking down, I accumulate more fluids in my lower abdomen. So from the breastbone up I look like an Auschwitz victim, and from the breastbone down, I look like a seven-months pregnant woman. So I go to the hospital periodically and they drain the fluids.

*****

I look forward to October 1, 2015. Then, I can join an exclusive club. Since I was diagnosed with the stage four cancer in late September, 2010, I have been dealing with this for over four years. Only six percent of patients are still alive after their fifth anniversary. It’s my goal to thank God again for his blessings and gifts on October 1st.

*****

Here is a YouTube video of George Strait’s “I Saw God Today.” I hope you enjoy it. Drop the link below into your URL and it should play.

Grayson Mae Reed

Grayson Mae Reed with an Alfred Hitchcock profile

Back in J-school, the first thing we learned was that the lead paragraph should have the who, what, when, where, why and how — or at least as much of those as you can know.

Yesterday, my youngest daughter, Casey, and her husband, Rick, had a gender-reveal party at their home to announce that the child they are expecting in March will be a girl, and her name will be Grayson Mae Reed. The two of them really pulled this off well. Ever since they announced they were expecting, friends and family have been asking about the gender and suggesting names — but they never budged.

It has been quite exciting. For weeks now, we have been guessing on the gender and supplying suggested names to consider ad infinitum. At the gender-reveal party, guests were asked to wear either blue or pink, depending on whether you thought she was going to have a boy or girl. I wore a white shirt and pink tie. I have thought ever since Casey and Rick announced they were expecting that it was a girl. There was a lot of blue at the party.

So, when it was time for the reveal, they brought out a box with balloons in it. After some teasing from the guests, they opened the box to reveal a set of pink balloons. Very cool. Then, the cajoling for the name began. They told us the name and said she would be called Gracie Mae. She will be named after a few members of both sides of the family. Very well done and, for me, truly a beautiful name.

I know this appears to be rather matter-of-fact, but it was truly an emotional event. And, sometimes, these events, like a gender-reveal party, are part of something much bigger. I like that. I celebrate that. I revere that.

Here’s what I mean. Years ago, when I was a twenty-something living in Houston, I was shaving at the sink in front of the mirror in the bathroom and the radio was playing. I will listening to KILT-FM, a long-time pop/rock station there. Well, they were playing Steely Dan’s hit “Hey 19” just one too many times. At the time, it seemed like every song I heard on the radio was “Hey 19.” So I flipped the station to a country western station and the first song I heard was a Lefty Frizzell and Dottie West hit called, “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.” I loved it. It made me smile. I was smitten.

Well, yesterday in the morning of the gender-reveal party, I ran an errand, and on the way back, “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” came on the radio. I smiled, I chuckled and then I did something I have never done ever. I turned the radio up AS LOUD AS IT WOULD GO and let it play. I sang out loud to every syllable. When the song was over, I laughed out loud.

For someone born in Oklahoma, it was a truly wonderful moment. While I don’t think my parents had a gender-reveal party when they were expecting me, I have to believe there was just as much enthusiasm among friends and family of my parents as there was later in the evening for Rick and Casey. And, as it turned out, Grayson Mae Reed, has some of my relatives in there, and they were all born in Oklahoma.

And, there was an additional occurrence yesterday that had me stopping and thinking. Patti and I have been in our house here in Buda for two years this month. There is a small flower bed in the front of the house that is sustainable. For the first time in two years yesterday, I went out and pulled some weeds, trimmed the bushes and raked up the debris.

While I was raking, I stopped a moment to rest. As I stood there, a blue balloon came from out of nowhere and floated across our front yard. It then flew down the street and just kept on going. Knowing we were going to a gender-reveal part in just a couple hours, I stood there and went, “Huh?” As you might imagine, I wondered if this had anything to do with the gender-reveal party, or nothing to do with it. I had been pretty settled in my belief they were having a girl, but the blue balloon could have been a sign, or it could have been nothing.

After the party was over later in the evening, I told Patti about the chain of events for that day. We both smiled. I know there is a God that watches over us all the time, and God has a great sense of humor.

And I know He will reveal himself in His entirety to Grayson Mae Reed at the right time, and she will be all the better for knowing Him.

God bless you all and your family and friends.

Starry, starry night Flaming flowers that brightly blaze Swirling clouds in violet haze Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue (From the Aldridge back yard)

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue
(From the Aldridge back yard)

I just wanted to share with you this picture from our back yard … and the fact that I took it the same day that Lust for Life appeared on TV. So Patti and I had a Vincent Van Gogh day.

……….

When I was in high school in a suburb of Houston, Texas, my parents seemed to be on me constantly to focus on doing what it takes to go to college. Neither of my parents went to college, yet they had successful lives. But they felt they could have done better if they had gone to college, and they were going to make damn sure their kids did!

And, to top it off, they wanted me to be a dentist. When I was 17-18, I resisted this idea pretty strongly. I couldn’t see spending my career with my fingers in someone else’s mouth.

My buddy, Bryan, here in Austin, is the best dentist I have ever known. He is very thorough, very specific, very up front about what is coming next and treats his patients with a great deal of respect … even me. He has been a successful dentist in Switzerland and here in Austin. He is very accomplished, very happy and very good at what he does. I admire Bryan and his life. We all should be this happy in whatever we choose to do.

When my parents were strongly encouraging me to go to college and be a dentist, a very new kind of store opened near us. It was called Wilderness Equipment; it was a store selling hiking equipment, such as shoes, tents, camping stoves, etc. I had seen no store like this ever. While my folks wanted me to be a dentist, all I could think about at the time was being a forest ranger. Yup, just wanted to get a job in the Rockies somewhere, climbing the tall tower to look for any signs of fire. Or work in a national park and give tours of natural beauty.

I never became a forest ranger.

I discovered writing in college and studied journalism and German. I had hoped that after I graduated, I would find a reporting job in a decent-sized town in West Germany, perhaps, Frankfurt, Hamburg or Munich.

That didn’t happen either. I got a job as a reporter/photographer in a small-town newspaper, and I got to put what I learned in college into action. I was a happy man. Throughout my career, I was a reporter, editor, PR man (for a nuclear power plant of all things) and HR communications consultant. I was a consultant for 29+ years and enjoyed working with large and small clients, but enjoyed the challenges they posed even more, regardless of size.

Now with my cancer diagnosis, I no longer work. But I think of work quite a bit. Working occupies a lot of my routine dreams. Some so strong I feel I can reach out and touch the work. In one dream, I worked in a huge skyscraper in Washington, D.C. and everyone who came to the building had to climb a three-story rock wall to get to the elevator to get to their work station. Yes, I bet Freud is having a field day somewhere.

Yesterday, I was thinking about what I would have liked to have done for work if money had been no object. I now know that I missed my life’s calling. I decided I wanted to be the guy who fit all the actors and actresses with their cowboy hats for the gazillion western movies and TV shows that passed through American theaters, drive-ins and television sets..

Yup, I wanted to fit John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Sam Elliott, Lee Marvin, Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, James Garner, Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones.

And I would have wanted an exclusive on them, too. As for the women actresses, well, how about starting with Racquel Welch, Claudia Cardinale, Angie Dickinson, Hope Lange, Jane Russell, Barbara Stanwyck and any of the co-stars appearing in the western movies and TV shows?

I just think it would have been so flippin’ cool to spend a few minutes of time with each of these people, fitting them into the hats that would come to help define them as icons.

Yeah, that would have been very cool and very much fun.

YI-PI-KI-A, y’all.

Raquel Welch

Raquel Welch

Claudia Cardinale

Claudia Cardinale

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall

Robert Redford & Paul Newman

Robert Redford & Paul Newman

The Duke

The Duke

Last week, I used fightingdamien.com to share with readers a posting that I read every Friday from the New York Times that focuses on books. While the book update from NYT gives the latest on books, it also hosts a mini-interview with a known writer, and asks the following questions:

1) What books are on your nightstand?

2) Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?

3) If you could require the president to read one book what would it be?

4) You are hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers do you invite?

5) What is the last book you put down without finishing?

At the conclusion of the posting, I asked readers to share with me their responses to these questions. My friend, Marion, was very quick with her responses to these questions.  Here are Marion’s responses, which I really enjoyed.

1) What books are on your nightstand?

My IPad is now the “books on my nightstand” and currently I have “Nothing to Lose”  by Lee Child, “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, “Orange is the New Black” by Piper Kerman, and since I only read books I check out from the library, I would add “China Dolls” by Lisa See that I have on hold and arriving soon, I hope. 

2) Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today? 

Answer the same for both, Pat Conroy.

3) If you could require the president to read one book what would it be?

“Night” by Elie Wiesel.

 

4) You are hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers do you invite?

Pat Conroy (he is the BEST oral storyteller ever! when he portrays his Bible-thumping relatives, it is hysterical) William Goldman (had such a crush on him long before “Princess Bride”), John Irving.

5) What is the last book you put down without finishing?

“To the Lighthouse” by Virginia Woolf. I tried, I really tried.

 

Marion and I go back to college days, 1968 to be precise, when we met and worked at Astroworld, a popular amusement park in Houston, Texas. We both worked the first summer of the first year it opened, and we both worked at the entrance to the park. I was a groundskeeper, which meant with a long-handled brush and trash container, I swept up every cigarette butt and piece of trash that hit the grounds of Astroworld, from the Astrodomain parking lot, which was nestled next to the Astrodome, across the walkway that rose over Loop 610 to the entrance to the park. Plus, I also covered “Main Street,” which is what Astroworld visitors first saw after they paid and made their entrance to the park. I had a blue and white-checked Sherlock Holmes hat and short-sleeved, button shirt, just like every other groundskeeper who worked throughout the park.

Astroworld when it opened in 1968

Astroworld when it opened in 1968

Marion was ‘the’ Map Lady. Just inside the park entrance, Marion had a very highly decorated cart. With her extroverted style and outgoing manner, she was perfect for this job. She sat at, or walked around, the cart throughout her shift and sold maps of the park layout to those visitors who wanted some information that would help them decide where to do what and where to go to get there.

We became friends that summer and stayed friends as we entered college after the summer was over. Marion went on to Texas Christian University and I went to Southwest Texas State University.

And, for years after we both moved on to other things, Astroworld grew and became more popular. In years after Marion and I left, Astroworld built an old-fashioned white wooden roller coaster, just like you might expect at Coney Island. And, it continued to grow in size.

In 1975, the original owner of Astroworld, Judge Roy Hofheinz, former mayor of Houston, sold the amusement park to Six Flags. Six Flags then ran it as one its popular and profitable theme parks. They were successful until October 2005, when they closed the park down. From late October through early 2006, the park was bulldozed and demolished.

Astroworld today

Astroworld today

Today, there is nothing but scrubland where the park used to be. The only thing that continues to exist that might remind people where the huge amusement park used to exist is the walkway that took visitors from the Astrodomain parking lot across Loop 610 to the entrance of the park.

Plus, the millions of memories people of all ages created when they visited the amusement/theme park during its heyday.

Marion, thank you for your answers to the questions, and for being part of the memories of a bygone era that I really enjoyed.

 As a reader, your action will be required below after the …

My Mom, Clephane Aldridge, died in mid-February at age 87. For someone who smoked about 65 of those 87 years, she had a full life. When my Dad was alive, he would tease her with the name “Cellophane,” after the kitchen wax paper.

Clephane Aldridge

Clephane Aldridge

She followed my Dad wherever he went for his job, an engineer for Sinclair Oil. Consequently, we lived in Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas while my sister, Dana, and I grew up. She idolized and loved my Dad dearly, except if the following story ever came up. She didn’t like it.

One of the stories that my Dad loved to tell was one that occurred when Dana and I were very little. We lived in Bowlegs, Oklahoma. Dad did his work, Mom raised us and Dana and I found fun and excitement wherever we could. Bowlegs was pretty much a company town full of Sinclair employees and families and the nearest regular town with shops and stores was Maud. Dad used to joke with his engineer buddies and to family members, since we had lots of family in Oklahoma then, that “the only way to Maud is through Bowlegs.”

When I was very young I never understood his story, but as I got older, yes, I did understand and for a few years would share with my friends occasionally for a good, shared laugh.

My Mom, on the other hand, helped me to develop a real love of reading. As long as I can remember, my Mom was always reading. Magazines, which were very popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s, were OK for her, but she really liked books.

Her fun teaching me to read was a bit lopsided. When other kids were reading Superman, Batman, Archie and Veronica comic books and Boy’s Life scouting magazines, she was encouraging me to read Swiss Family Robinson and anything by H.G. Wells. She gave me a copy of Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl and, for years, all I wanted to do was catch a ride on a small raft across the south Pacific. Years later, as a college student, I spent three months in Europe. One of the things I was so thankful to see was the original Kon-Tiki in a Thor Heyerdahl museum in Oslo, Norway. I wrote her a letter from Norway describing that experience.

On the other hand, Mom rarely disclosed what she was reading. After many years, I finally figured it out.

She liked romance novels. Oh my gosh, if it had a picture or a drawing of Fabio on the cover, she had to have it. She was voracious. Many times, I thought she was the solitary reason that romance novel genre was still alive.

Even though she never gave up her love of romance novels, she stayed current on the hot authors, the really good stuff to read across all the writing genres. When I was still a teen, she encouraged me to read James Dickey and I would. For example, even as I was reading the very real brutality of Deliverance, I was also reading his poetry. And, I still don’t understand why Dickey wrote poetry. It seemed to me that if you are going to really write to make a living, write what sells. To me, novels sell and poetry impresses. I’m sure if I spent any time with a poet, I could change my mind.

And, to try to be more versatile, I would occasionally read James Baldwin, Eldridge Cleaver, Irving Wallace and others. I loved the Irving Wallace books and he really shaped my commitment toward novels. I also loved just about anything that was the Old West. Once, when I was a kid and we lived in eastern New Mexico, tumbleweeds, desert and constant winds, she took Dana and me to Lincoln County, New Mexico. There you can see vividly and in person the story of Billy the Kid’s escape from the Lincoln County Jail. There are national monuments all around the very small town. I loved it because the story was very real and included gunslingers and sheriffs, good guys and bad guys. She made sure we saw the whole thing. Years later, she and Dad took me to the small town north of Lincoln where Billy the Kid was buried.

I will always be thankful that Mom fostered my interest in reading. Just a few years ago, the movie Toy Story was a real hit. The Tim Allen character, Buzz Lightyear, would say throughout the movie, “To infinity and b-e-y-o-n-d.” Whenever I watched that movie, I would think about my mother because my love of reading, that she helped grow and prosper, has taken me to infinity and beyond. I am forever indebted to you. Thank you, Mom.

Now, here’s where you, dear reader, get involved. Every Friday, I get a NYTimes book update. This electronic update lets me know the books that are coming out, what they are about and whether they are worth our time or not.The part of the update that I enjoy the most is a somewhat brief interview with an author. It’s called (NAME: By the Book).Last week, it was Larry McMurtry. But the questions tend to be the same week to week.

I won’t ask you to fill out all the questions, but I am going to add four-five questions that are in the By the Book section for YOU TO FILL OUT AND SHARE. So, once you read this posting, take the questions, fill them out and return to me. I will share your results with other readers next Sunday.

Here are the questions, and I have included my answers for fun:

1) What books are on your nightstand?

The Closers by Michael Connelly, Empire Falls by Richard Russo, These Days by Jack Cheng, Apron Strings by Mary Morony.

2) Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?

My favorite novelist of all time is Irving Wallace because I loved all the topics he would turn into novels, like sex, Christianity, black presidents. My favorite novelist writing today is Pat Conroy, no ifs, ands or buts.

3) If you could require the president to read one book what would it be?

The key is in the word “require.” I suppose you mean he would, indeed, read it. I’d suggest he read The Liberty Amendment: Restoring the American Republic by Mark Levin.

4) You are hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers do you invite?

I’d invite Gore Vidal and Normal Mailer and watch the fireworks. I’d also make sure Philip Roth is there as referee.

5) What is the last book you put down without finishing?

Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose.  I know it is nonfiction, but I felt like I really wanted to read it. Then, as I read it, I suspected that there was a Candid Camera hooked up somewhere to watch me read this bugger, and every page of the book said, seemingly, the same thing; “Well, we got up, made camp, went a few miles up the river, made camp and went to sleep. After some mountains, we made it to the ocean.” I thought Allen Funt was somewhere ready to come in and surprise me as I threw the book against the wall.

1) What books are on your nightstand?

2) Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?

3) If you could require the president to read one book what would it be?

4) You are hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers do you invite?

5) What is the last book you put down without finishing?

So, now, dear reader, it is your turn. Take these five questions, complete them and send them to me at derek.aldridge@icloud.com. I will post your answers next Sunday. THANK YOU.

 

 

 

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