David Bruce: The Coolest People in Books — Mishaps, Money

Mishaps

• People who use dog sleds a lot have to become used to accidents, since dogs take wrong turns, sleds tip over, and drivers fall off the sled and are left behind. Once, author Gary Paulsen was on a run with his sled dogs when he slipped and was dragged behind the sled. In a pocket, he carried wooden matches that lit and caught his pants on fire.

• Children’s book author Lois Lowry, a two-time winner of the Newbery Medal, appeared on Jeopardy! in the days when it was live. She remembers that the makeup artist darkened only one of her eyebrows, giving her a quizzical appearance.

Money

• William Blake made little money from his poetry and art, but he did not love money. He once said, “Were I to love money, I should lose all power of original thought. Desire of gain deadens the genius in man. My business is not to gather gold, but to make glorious shapes.” However, occasionally he realized that he needed to make money. His wife, Catherine, who had a spirit kindred to his own, used to put whatever food was available on their dinner plates and serve it. Occasionally, Mrs. Blake would put an empty plate in front of her husband. Mr. Blake also believed that schools all too often instill conformity: “Thank God I was never sent to school / To be Flogd into following the Style of a Fool.” Mr. Blake did have one other important opinion. He once showed a visitor the view through his window. Some children could be seen playing happily together, and Mr. Blake said, “That is Heaven.”

• In August 1966, Gabriel García Márquez finished writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. The manuscript consisted of 490 typed pages, and he and his wife went to a post office in Mexico City to mail it to a publisher in Buenos Aires. Unfortunately, mailing the entire manuscript cost 82 pesos, and his wife had only 50 pesos. (The family had little money because while Mr. Márquez was writing the novel, he did not have a paying job.) They mailed half of the manuscript, went home and pawned a few items, including a hairdryer, and then returned to the post office and mailed the other half of the manuscript. One Hundred Years of Solitude made Gabriel García Márquez internationally famous.

• When Marvel Comics was acquired by a new owner, maven Stan Lee was worried about his job. Therefore, he was very happy when his new boss told him that he would be making triple what he had made before. However, being a worrier, he worried that perhaps he had misunderstood what his new boss had said, so he decided to wait until payday to see if he had understood his new boss correctly. Payday arrived, Stan Lee looked at his paycheck, the paycheck was triple what he made before, and Mr. Lee decided that he loved his new boss — and that he would still love his new boss even if someone told him that his new boss was an axe murderer!

• New York Times best-selling thriller author Sandra Brown has 70 million copies of her many novels in print. She regards her best purchase ever to be an IBM Display Writer, which she purchased after receiving a $12,000 loan from a bank. She remembers, “I’d published seven books that were written on a typewriter. I typed at least three drafts of each. I spent a lot of time typing, which is entirely different from writing. One day it occurred to me that I wasn’t being paid to type, so I trotted off down to the bank and made my pitch. That banker, now in his 80s, still brags about that loan to anyone who’ll listen. Bless you, Art.

• John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, tells a story about authors Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Joseph Heller. They attended a party together — a party hosted by a billionaire who could easily appear on one of the television programs dedicated to the lifestyles of the rich and famous. Mr. Vonnegut talked to Mr. Heller about their host, pointing out that their host had made more money that day than Mr. Heller had made from all of the many, many copies of the vastly successful book Catch-22 that had ever been sold. Mr. Heller replied that that was OK with him because he had one thing that their host would never have: “Enough.”

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Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

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