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Monday, October 03, 2005

Malania Book Launch & the Templeton Pumpkin Festival

The shameless Sunday book-flogging for my little old lady friend, Fae Malania, went off very well. I found homes for all 60 of the books that I'd ordered, and I even sold most of her author copies. By the time the stragglers show up, we'll go over 70.

It was a peaceable, teetotaler's party--and much cheaper than champagne for 100--your basic C & T plus cake. I ordered a Gargantua-sized cake with yellow roses and an icing book on top with the sugary words, The Quantity of a Hazelnut by Fae Malania--made by an enterprising Templetonian baker--plus pots of red and white cyclamen and ornamental peppers from the Farmer's Market. And those went home with a few of the many people who have helped Fae.

There is a perfect riot of confusion in my brain about the money in little baggies and the checks, but I suppose it will be sorted out before long. Some have not paid but have taken a book. Some the reverse. Some didn't show but reserved... Sigh. I do not like to play accountant, extortionist, and delivery girl.

I celebrated book-launch success by taking my youngest to the second day of Pumpkinfest. Yesterday we saw Merdwyn the Mediocre do his famously mediocre magic show at the Doubleday Field. My son got him in a corner (difficult in an open-air festival) and talked candy and magic and other important topics at him until he begged us to go.

We inspected the giant pumpkins, including a 1,407.3-pound winner. That's one thousand four hundred and seven pounds, plus. Or as my third-grader says, poring over the problems in expanded form: 1,000 + 400 + 7. I don't know what he'd do with the smidge left over. I don't think he does expanded-form-with-fractions as yet.

Each of the four mega-pumpkins on stands in front of the Doubleday Field gates broke the New York state record. Which just goes to show that a little sunshine--what marvelous weather we have had this year--helps with all kinds of expanded form. I could deal with weather like this year round. If it was up to me, I would deal with weather like this year round. Most Templeton summer mornings I get up, put on a sweater, and lodge two or three complaints before breakfast. Some fall mornings, I put on snow boots and the giant down blueberry. It's so big that it stands up by itself and sticks its arms out. More expanded form at work.

Here is something I learned at Pumpkinfest: grossly fat pumpkins look just as weird and astonishing as grossly fat people. I thought my Southern cohorts might not know that, and it's an interesting fact. We have the spectacle of 450-pound humans pretty much everywhere these days, but it's not so often that we see a really excessive pumpkin down South... Pumpkin giants flop as they grow, lose their flower ends and umbilicals in wells of flesh, and sprout stretch marks.

In today's installment of pumpkin mania, my son played silly games and had his picture taken while sitting inside a pumpkin, next to a Grumplie, an equally large pumpkin carved in high relief. Sour-faced: hence, Grumplie. Our favorite part was watching the Catskill Puppet Theatre do "Hiawatha" with rod puppets; we'd seen the show once before, but one of us was only a toddler and didn't recall.

Alas, we missed the Regatta, though we did go and inspect the wet pumpkin boats behind the Lake Front Motel.


  1. Just found some interesting stuff on the upcoming Chronicles of Narnia film. Narnia Resourcesand the wardrobe"

  2. Marly,

    This is weird. I've been corresponding with Cathe Ellsworth and ran across your name in a 2001 Daily Star article. I'm a Pushcart Prize nominee working on my first novel, which is set in Cooperstown and St. Petersburg, FL. (No it is NOT a baseball book, although that aspect cannot be denied; I'm somewhat of a fan.) I spent summers in the village when I was a kid -- grandparents lived at 11 Leatherstocking St. Anyway, your pub credits are very impressive and I intend to read your work soon.

    Very pleased to know you're a NC native, as I've met Jill McCorkle, Lee Smith, and Fred Chappell at Conf on Southern Lit in Chattanooga this past spring. My wife and I just got back from Asheville last weekend; Wolfe's "Old Kentucky Home" was wonderful, as is the whole town.


  3. Jim,

    I'm about to dash to Cherry Valley for kid-karate, but I'll get back to you. Where are you? Living, I mean. In Florida? Up here somewhere?

    Yes, I miss the Carolinas and spent much of the past summer there--in Cullowhee. And I know Lee and Jill; I've corresponded with Fred Chappell a few times. North Carolina is popping with writers...

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  5. About 20 min. from downtown Atlanta, GA, in Lawrenceville (not-so-affectionately "Larryville"). Do you know Jack Riggs? He's a local novelist/short fiction writer here in L'ville, tight with Jill M, studied with Fred C. He's been helpful, promises to be moreso when I need his guidance.

    Novel writing is all-consuming, ain't it? Sheesh, but I'm loving it ... well, it's love/hate, but I probably don't have to tell you!


  6. Great blog, keep up the good work. Glad to see sites like this.

    Here is another good site I said I would pass along.
    Domain Sale

  7. Sundry stuff, for Jim:

    My parents are Georgians (Collins and Lexsy), but I was born over the line in Aiken. So I say I'm a native of the Carolinas (having lived in Aiken and Greenville, South Carolina and in Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Cullowhee, North Carolina.) I don't know too many writers in your area. (I'll have to look up your 'Larryville' novelist.) But Phil Williams is a penpal of mine--I've never met him in the 3-dimensional world--and he's in Athens.


    You seem to have jumped into the novel right away. I started out as a poet and bumbled my way into stories and novels during a dry spell. It's amazing how long a person can sit in a corner of a poky little room, isn't it? And like it, too...


    You know, I can't picture what's at 11 Leatherstocking, but I'll have to take a look on my next walk.


    Yes, I like Asheville, though I think we're up to our maximum number of tarot cards and massage therapists and crystal hawkers. I moved to Cullowhee at 13 and still spend a lot of time there--Asheville was, back then, the only place to eat, shop, etc.


    I've written a number of novellas and stories that are set "here"--my version of here. One's out in the current issue of "Mars Hill Review," and another's coming out in "Argosy Quarterly." And I've succumbed to writing a novel set here as well. It's a peculiar, fascinating place with complicated social layers.

    You're adding to Cooperstown's mythos, you know. I have no idea how much nonfiction and fiction has been written about the place in the past two centuries, but it's quite a bit. I'll be interested to see what you do with the Village.

    Whatever you do, you will always be the wrong "James." James Fenimore Cooper will always be king of the Village writers association...

  8. It was innocent enough, my search for your post about Fae Malania. (By the way, I hope she doesn't read blogs, finding that you refer to her as "my little old lady friend.") I found the search leading me to reading one man's thoughts about literature's dire dilema (oh, so predictably obvious--mediocrity abounds, in the marketplace and in our schools. Old news, eloquently stated, difficult solution.)
    Then I moved to The Malania Book Launch post only to find I was suddenly reading about giant pumpkins, expanded form and fat people, expanded form. Not learning much about Ms. Malinia's, I moved to Amazon, clicked shopping cart and ordered it for my precious 92-year-old friend. So much for for thoughtful shopping and time management. I could simply fritter away hours and dollars at this rate, so I return to writing student narratives for interims.
    Your blog is adictive. Thanks, I think, for the diversion.

  9. Connie--

    Fae never reads the internet, and she wouldn't mind if I called her a "little old lady." In fact, I'm pretty sure that I've told her that she's my favorite little old lady. Along with Bideth, just down the street. I've written more about her book elsewhere, somewhere in the archives down in the root cellar... She has a lovely prose style.

    Blogs are very bad about frittering time. And that's for writing as well as reading, but writers desperately need an excuse not to write the thing they should be writing. And writing something else can be helpful.

    But one shouldn't underestimate the importance of pumpkins (or red wheelbarrows glazed with rain beside the white chickens, for that matter!).

    Vxfumfy, as we say in word verification speech--

  10. Guess I'm a little sensitve about the "old" in "little old . . ." Neither was it my intention to underestimate the mighty pumpkin nor W.C.W. red wheelbarrow. I loved your connections. And I know about the need to do something besides the dreaded task at hand; thus, I'm back at your blog while interim reports await.

  11. Oh, any part of the country that can call a teeny male child "a little ole boy" can't be too thin-skinned about a "little old" lady.

    I plan to be one some day, with luck... Little old lady, that is. And I want to be a frisky one!

    Go do those reports.



Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.