The photo is from 1978. My son, his truck. Behind him, my truck.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Fact and Fiction

Wednesday, February 8, 1984

Mrs. Goldstein was a golden client.  She had the pride of "discovering" me and she bragged to all her friends.  Her big new house in Sharon Heights was built by a crook, and I was the savior.  With her and her friends I was fully employed for a while.

One day - this day, February 8, 1984 - she asks me how I got started.  It's the basic Jewish mother question: "What's a smart young man like you doing in a line of work like this?"  She's a kind, friendly woman.  So I end up telling her my whole life story, how with three novels published I still need to support myself doing construction jobs and that, most of the time, I love this work.

She asks, "Where can I buy your books?"

"They're out of print," I say.

"Don't you have any?  Could I buy one from you?"

"The problem is, whenever one of my clients reads one of my books, they never hire me again."


"They think the stories are true.  I write in the first person, and they believe that the main character is me.  And they would not allow that character to work in their house."

"Then you must be a very good writer if you make them believe that.  Don't worry.  I used to teach English.  I know what fiction is."

There's no stopping Mrs. Goldstein.  Reluctantly, I give her a copy of Famous Potatoes.

She never calls me again.

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