I noticed two things after yesterday’s post, one was I don’t mention much fiction on this blog, and the other was how long it had been since I’d seen a book from Bill Zavatsky and how happy I was that his latest, and I think his best, had finally arrived.
Then I thought of writers, like Zavatsky and me, to mention just two I know personally, who had long periods between books at some point in their life. And that made me think of Dale Herd.
Allen Ginsberg once told an interviewer that Herd was his favorite prose writer.
I once wrote a rave review of one of Herd’s collections of short stories for The Washington Post, in which I claimed Herd as the Hemingway of our generation.
Not that Herd changed the nature of prose style with his books, as Hemingway did, but that Herd captured the sensibility and perspective of his and my times as well as Hemingway did his (IN OUR TIME was always my favorite book of Hemingway’s).
Herd’s writing is as well crafted as anything of Hemingway’s, and more consistently so (a few later Hemingway books are not up to his own standards, while all of Herd’s are up to his).
But there hasn’t been a new book of Herd’s published in too many years. He has been writing for the screen in the interim, and raising a family of three boys, all top athletes at a young age, including the oldest, who is a high school hockey star and will be playing for Bowdoin College next year.
Dale was writing a novel the last time I read his work (part of an earlier unpublished novel was done as a stage piece when I was living in L. A., my second wife played one of the characters in it). If anyone deserves to be published, just on the record of his books published back in the day, it’s Dale Herd.
I don’t know if his books are available through your local bookstore, but I’m sure they are on the internet, as is most everything else, so if you’d like to read a master of prose and a true chronicler of the human condition, including individual and specific details often overlooked by other writers, check out these collections of short stories by Dale Herd:
EARLY MORNING WIND and Other Stories (Four Seasons Foundation 1972)
DIAMONDS (Mudra 1976)
WILD CHERRIES (Tombouctou 1980)
If you like great writing, you won’t be sorry. I still reread Herd’s books on a regular basis, and I’m never disappointed. They remain three of my all time favorite books of fiction.
Here’s a sample, the very first story in EARLY MORNING WIND, and the shortest, called “Eric:”
“She had a kid asleep in the bedroom. I asked her if she wanted to ball and she said yes. She got her gun six times. I told her I was selling my car and all my belongings and buying a sailboat and sailing to Australia. I said she could go but she’d have to pay. How much she said. A dollar thirty seven I said. She said not bad. Then she said how much for Eric. I said ten thousand dollars.”