Tag Archives: literature

Robert “Bob” Friedman, Publisher, Best Friend

51265812_2131616543572686_1260520773357928448_n

Photo by Beth Hines

I met Bob Friedman in 1962 at the first creative writing class ever offered at the University of Virginia. The small class was established by George Garrett, a significant novelist and poet, who became a mentor to Bob, me, and Henry Taylor, who later won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. The three of us performed the role of publishers for an anthology of creative writing titled New Writing from Virginia. George Garrett edited the content and Pulitzer poet Richard Wilbur wrote the introduction. Although the small book was privately published, Bob and I were photographed presenting the book to the UVA President in 1963, our graduation year.

Monty and Bob in 1963

Monty (l) and Bob present a copy of New Writing from Virginia to UVA President Edgar Shannon in 1963 prior to sailing for Europe.

Since I had been to Europe as a 16-year-old third cook on a Norwegian coal freighter, my post graduate goal was to return to Europe and live the expatriate lifestyle of writers like Henry Miller and Ernest Hemingway. Bob liked the idea of the adventure and joined me in booking one-way freighter passage to Europe. Our parents were consoled in our recklessness by the fact that traveling together we might survive. When we enrolled in a graduate school program there, we would also be deferred from the Vietnam War military draft.

Our adventure began in Amsterdam, Holland and continued in Germany, France, England, and finally Denmark and Sweden. We nearly died in a snowstorm while hitchhiking in rural Germany, and we went completely broke and on welfare in Paris when the checks from home could not be cashed.

On the late afternoon of November 22, 1963, Bob and I took a train from London to the town of Virginia Water to be the guests of a friend for dinner at his gentlemen’s club. We were greeted with the news that our President, John F. Kennedy, had been shot; and before we took the midnight train back to London, Kennedy was reported dead. Everywhere we went on our trip to Denmark, flags were at half-mast, and when we were recognized as Americans, people tried to console us. For Bob and me, it was an especially bonding experience.

Later, Bob in Copenhagen and I in Stockholm did not get the university credits necessary to preserve our deferred draft status. Bob rushed back to the States, and George Garrett got him accepted into the MFA writing program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro within twenty-four hours. I remained confident that a major leg surgery done four years earlier would keep me out of the Army. I was wrong.

More than a year later I visited Bob at UNC-G as a soldier on leave who expected to go to war in Vietnam as the Plans and Training NCO of an evacuation hospital. I learned on that visit that Bob would never reject me no matter how reckless and desperate I behaved. Bob never judged or turned away a friend. He was unique in that way.

While stationed at Ft. Polk, Louisiana, I had a girlfriend in New Orleans in her last year of becoming a registered nurse. If I could get leave to come to Mardi Gras, she promised to find us a cheap hotel on the parade route. I invited Bob to join the party and help me with the expenses. Bob got a blind date with a girl from the very classy Sophie Newcomb College, and the four of us had a three-day party on a balcony overlooking the major Mardi Gras parade route. Bob and I later married those girls.

African Delta 20 x 24 oil on canvas

African Delta by Monty Joynes

When I was in Scandinavia, I began to paint in the company of well-established artists of the Bauhaus Situationist movement. Before I was drafted into the Army, I had exhibited my paintings and been recognized in Danish and Swedish media. Back in Norfolk, Virginia after two years of active military service, I opened a small art gallery—Gallery Saint—and failed to make a living as an artist and exhibitor of modern art. Bob had given me money to open the gallery, and he and Donna had attended my one-man show there. For their support, I gave them a painting titled “My Three Sons.” Bob ultimately had three sons—Jonathan, Matthew, and Marc. I am very pleased that they call me Uncle Monty.

DSCN0403

Bob with his three sons Marc, Jonathan, and Matthew

By the time I became self-sufficient and married with a first daughter, Bob took his MFA degree to the University of Wales and began to work on a Ph.D. My extra job in those years was as an international education consultant to the Methodist Board of Higher Education. To promote their summer enrichment program at the University of Graz in Austria, I recommended that we produce a documentary film about the student experience. The only way that the film could be financed, however, was for me to produce, write, direct, and edit it. In planning the production, I arranged for a two-day stopover in London so that Bob and Donna could come from Wales to join my then-wife Theresa and me. When Donna saw the huge bathtub in our gentrified London hotel room, all she wanted to do was to soak off the Wales coal dust from her skin and hair.

The four of us got into the standing-room-only line at the Wimbledon  Lawn Tennis Championships to see American Arthur Ashe advance into the semi-finals. Looking for a better option, I used a radio station press card to bluff my way to a set of official press credentials and was given a seat next to the New York Times sports reporter very near the Royal Box. I offered my companions turns-of-use with the press credential, but they would have none of it. Bob loved to tell that story because it proved me to be a colorful character. I was always in comic relief to Bob’s stoicism, but I took pride in being able to make him laugh.

I founded Metro Hampton Roads Magazine in 1970, and by 1971 it was a growing monthly. By 1974, I need editorial help, and Bob, after teaching at East Carolina University, needed a job. He became my Managing Editor. Some of Bob’s staff hires attempted a take-over of the magazine, and I took a month-long vacation to prove that they were not qualified. The owner, seeing that the magazine would miss its printer deadline, called me back to fix the problems. I immediately fired Bob and his staff. My best friend! Years later, while visiting Bob in Charlottesville, his housemate was very surprised to learn of the firing.

“You fired Bob?”

“Yes,” I admitted.

“Why?”

“I had to so that he could publish my books.”

During our work together at Metro, Bob also contributed photos published in the magazine, including cover shots. For a cover shot about the funeral business, I lowered Bob into an open grave, and he shot the grisly real gravediggers looking down at him. I paid the gravediggers $5 each, and we walked away and kept silent until Bob started screaming to be pulled up. We had gone to the cemetery hoping for a picture opportunity. What we got was fantastic. Bob, however, never laughed when I told that story.

spies-picAnother fine mess that I got Bob into was the cover and interior shots for “The Spies Among Us.” I took Bob to a rooftop overlooking  the Newport News Shipyard where an aircraft carrier and a nuclear submarine were under construction. We were acting like spies to prove a point. The magazine attorney warned us to inform the government before the pictures were published.  The Navy, the Pentagon, and the FBI went crazy when they saw the pictures. Some of the photos were rejected, but the magazine was ultimately published on schedule, but at the last minute. There was a week, however, when Bob thought that we might end up in Federal prison.

Soon after Metro, Bob founded The Donning Company and established it as the major publisher of pictorial history books in the country. I had left Metro to become Associate Publisher of Holiday, the national travel magazine, and then returned to Metro under new ownership. I quit within a year to pursue personal writing projects.

More to the point, I was a divorced would-be novelist living in a second-rate apartment which happened to be a block away from the Donning offices. Realizing my humbled circumstances, Bob hired me as an acquisition editor. I traveled to cities and towns as distant as Dover, Delaware and Bradford, Pennsylvania to find local historians and owners of photo collections who I could put together for a pictorial history.

When I began to write my first novel and had a manuscript, who did I show it to? Bob, of course. Bob read almost every novel that I ever wrote, some 22 of them.  He never offered any criticism, but he always encouraged. By the time I asked him to read my fourth unpublished novel, Naked Into The Night, Bob was co-founder of The Hampton Roads Publishing Company located in Virginia Beach.

Years had passed, and I was happily remarried and relocated to Boone, NC in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had found my life’s companion, Pat, after spending a year of spiritual retreat mostly in silence. I did not want to be the arrogant, judgmental, and violent person that I had become. I wanted a quiet mind. Bob understood my transformation experience; and when I brought him Naked Into The Night, he realized it was the product of a new literary genre that he termed Visionary Fiction.

Bob, Monty, Frank

Bob, Monty, and Frank DeMarco

The publication of Naked in 1997 with the back cover genre notation “Visionary Fiction” established Hampton Roads as an innovative fiction publisher in addition to its catalog of Metaphysical and Self-Help books. After Naked, Bob, with partner Frank DeMarco, published Lost in Las Vegas (1998), Save the Good Seed (1999), and Dead Water Rites (2000) in what has come to be termed “The Booker Series.”

When Bob and Frank relocated Hampton Roads to Charlottesville, VA, I became with other HRP authors annual participants in the Virginia Festival of the Book. Bob was by then prominent in the Independent Publishers Association, and he was also a member of the VA Book Festival program committee.

I was a guest in Bob’s home when Neale Donald Walsch visited for the first time. Bob had “discovered” Neale, so to speak, and published what would become the huge worldwide best seller Conversations with God. Bob needed our bed to host Neale and his wife, so Pat and I were sent to a rural B&B that couldn’t have been more grand if it had belonged to Elvis. We had a huge luxury suite, and outdoors were the wonderful amenities of a large swimming pool, a ten-person California redwood hot tub, and a free-standing sauna. The owner-chef was trained at the Cordon Bleu, so we also enjoyed gourmet breakfasts. Poor Neale. If he only knew.

Bob, Kelly, Monty, Henry, Fred

A gathering of friends at the Virginia Festival of the Book. Left to right Bob, Va. Poet Laureate Kelly Cherry, Monty, Pulitzer Prize Poet Henry Taylor, and NC Poet Laureate Fred Chappell.

Monty on deck at Faber

Monty in chef regalia on Bob’s deck at reunions.

 

Our annual visits to Bob’s residences in the Charlottesville area evolved into a routine. Bob teased me by saying that he didn’t know what he enjoyed more –my books or my cooking. He especially liked my pork tenderloin dinners and my Shrimp Alfredo. Another member of our reunion gang, Ed Catania, cooked another night. His Rosemary Chicken was always prized. Danny Lliteras, one of Bob’s most prolific authors and brother-like friend, and Jonathan and Matt, Bob’s sons, were left to the cleanup.

 

 

Another tradition was an afternoon of smoking good cigars and drinking something special like Bailey’s Bristol Cream in the yard or on the deck. None of us were regular smokers, but the cigar smoke seemed to stimulate the conversation and make us laugh.

Tres Amigos

Monty, Ed, and Bob smoking cigars on the deck at Faber

 

Annual Reunion Gang at Mchie Tavern

Annual reunion lunch at Michie Tavern. Front row Danny Lliteras, Bob, Beth. Back row Ed Catania, Monty, Frank DeMarco

 

Annual Reunion Breakfast Ed, Bob, Danny, Monty

Annual reunion breakfast spot. (l) to (r) Ed Catania, Bob, Danny Lliteras, Monty

 

Celestine

 

One night after nine, Bob telephoned to ask me to accept a making-of-the-movie book assignment for The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield’s worldwide best seller. He was still in negotiation, but he needed to assure the movie producer that he could have a credited author on the movie set by the next day. Near midnight, the contract was agreed upon, and the next morning I was on my way to St. Augustine, Florida. I was six weeks on the set for the principle shooting in Florida, and another week months later for post production in Burbank, CA.

The coffee table book with over 160 photographs was published in 2005 in conjunction with the release of the movie, but the film never went into major distribution. It went directly to DVD to retailers. Bob and the producers judged the book to be excellent, but without the success of the movie, it did not sell. My best royalty check came from the German edition.

Bob used the quality of The Celestine Prophecy movie book to convince Neale and CWGTheMakingoftheMovie_500hStephen Simon, producer and director of the movie based on Conversations with God, that I should write and photo edit their making-of-the-movie book. The job took me to Ashland and Medford, Oregon during December where the outdoor sets were so cold that we were issued foot and hand warmers. Disappointing in previews, the feature film never went into major distribution, and thus its movie book failed to sell. I coached the actor who played Bob’s character in the movie on how to be Bob. That was great fun for me.

Bob may have overestimated my ability to overcome challenges. He knew that I had founded a World Affairs Council, served as an aide to ambassador-level dignitaries, and that I had personal friends in the US Senate, House, and State Department. When Katy, Bob’s second wife, wanted to go to Cambodia to adopt their baby Sophie, Bob recognized it as a potentially dangerous mission. I was caught completely off guard when he made his request.

“If we get in trouble in Cambodia, will you come and get us?”

“Of course,” I responded without pause as if it were within my power.

It was a brief moment without further discussion. I later thought, was there anything that we could not ask of each other? In the retrospect of over 50 years, the answer is self-evident as it is to many in the brother and sisterhood that Bob had established.

In 2013, I stayed at Bob’s home as we attended the 50th Reunion of our 1963 UVA class. The endowment at UVA had already exceeded $1 billion, but still we were solicited for more. Bob and I walked the Lawn together and sat for the presentation of reunion class gifts. Five classes participated. The class older than ours gave over $1 million. Our oversized presentation check was something over $600,000.

I nudged Bob. “Is any of that yours?”

“Nah,” he said. “But I do have to donate a couple of thousand just for the privilege of buying my football tickets.”

“At the lunch table today,” I said, “there was an alumni wife wearing my net worth in her jewelry. They obviously don’t need money from me.”

Bob followed UVA sports, and he wore Cavalier ball caps and Virginia monogrammed sweatshirts and sweaters even when he watched games on television. He persisted in inviting me to home football games. I finally joined him for the first University of Miami ACC game at Scott Stadium. The crowd numbered over 63,000. Getting to and from the stadium was painfully exhausting on my surgically repaired knees. I told Bob that the next time I came to a game, I should land midfield in a helicopter and be taken by golf cart to the skybox elevator. My post-game departure should be the same. Despite my protests, Bob continued to invite me every year.

Pat and I visited Bob and his loving life partner and caregiver, Beth Hines, the week before Thanksgiving  (2018). We brought one of Bob’s favorite dishes—my Shrimp Alfredo. I made constant attempts to amuse him, and he smiled and chuckled in the right places and spoke in fragmented phrases. I said, “I love you.” And Bob managed to say, “I love you, too.” The leave taking was very hard.

Back home in Boone, NC, Pat was in daily email contact with Beth, and we tried to comfort her in the ways that we were led. I spoke to Bob twice on the phone, but by that time, it was a one-way conversation. Among our reunion gang, Danny Lliteras visited more than once from Alabama and was a huge supporter for sometimes a week at a time. Ed Catania and wife Angie came from Florida and cooked for Bob and Beth. Author Vernon Kitabu Turner and wife Joyce came from Virginia Beach during the last weeks as others did to comfort Bob and help Beth.

 

Robert S. Friedman, publisher and best friend, passed this life on January 7, 2019 at his home in Faber, Virginia at the age of 76.

Bob had brought a brother and sisterhood together, and we did not fail to honor him for his many gifts to us. Of course, there were hundreds who called Bob father, brother, and friend. Bob, my true friend for 57 years, led a very significant life. There are a thousand meaningful books that carry the imprint of Bob’s heart and intellect. His legacy will live as long as human beings seek metaphysical truths.

 

Bob Beth Cigar

Bob and Beth on Ed Catania’s wedding cruise. Photo by Angie Catania.

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Memoirs, Spirituality, Writing

Bob Dylan, Rejected

bob_dylan_-_bob_dylanIt was a Sunday afternoon at a University of Virginia fraternity house located in a cluster of frat houses that overlooked an intramural field depression known as “Mad Bowl” when I met Bob Dylan and witnessed him rejected as a folk singer and song writer.

The year was 1961, and Dylan had been brought to the fraternity house by folk singer, folklorist, and mentor Paul Clayton who had friends there. Clayton was a UVA grad with a master’s degree in folklore. Since the mid-1950s, Clayton had traveled the Southern Appalachian Highlands in search of traditional folksongs that were in danger of extinction. As a scholar and archivist, he recorded these treasures on site and then sang many of them himself on 21 albums released between 1954 and 1965. In folk music circles from New York City to Los Angeles, Paul Clayton was a prominent figure in the folk music revival of the 1950s and 1960s.

paul-claytonClayton’s purpose on that Sunday afternoon was to have newcomer Bob Dylan and recorded folk singer Carolyn Hester sing a few songs as a measure of their live performance abilities. It was easy to pull the frat boys away from the ball game on television once they got an introduction to Carolyn Hester. She was 24 years old at the time and Hollywood gorgeous. Hester had already released two albums and was being compared to folk music star Joan Baez. Clayton was helping her with her live performance guitar playing, which was weak at the time. Hester stood against the living room wall and performed two unremembered songs. Her singing was strong and beautiful, but she missed some chords in the accompaniment.

Clayton then encouraged the shy, downcast, tousle headed, disheveled 20-year-old Bob Dylan to uncase his guitar and sing a couple of his original songs. Perhaps in over 50 years of retrospect it is wishful thinking, but I swear that one of the songs that he performed was “Blowin’ in the Wind.”  Although Dylan would become “the voice of his generation,” his singing voice has been described as, “raw, seemingly untrained, and frankly a nasal voice” by Joyce Carol Oates among others. Dylan was also accused of imitating Woody Guthrie’s earthy vocal mannerisms which were also termed “iconoclastic baying.”

156-madisonbowl

Mad Bowl, UVA

The frat boys that Sunday found Dylan’s singing to be both incomprehensible and downright irritating.  Someone turned the television set back on to the ball game, and there were insincere smiles and gestures that communicated to the performers that their leave taking was in order. Clayton’s fraternity friend made an awkward apology as the three folk singers exited the scene of their embarrassment.

Soon after the fraternity house debacle, Carolyn Hestercarolyn-hester invited Bob Dylan to play harmonica on sessions for her third album at Columbia Records.  At a rehearsal session, Dylan met celebrated record producer John Hammond who signed him to a recording contract. Dylan’s first album on Columbia Records was released on March 19, 1962. The album made a great impression in the folk music community, but it was not commercially successful.

the-freewheelin-bob-dylan

Dylan’s second album The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, released in May 1963, however, featured “Blowin’ in the Wind” as its first cut. If Dylan could not make his songs famous, then cover groups like Peter, Paul and Mary, The Byrds, Sonny and Cher, The Hollies, and many others could. The Beatles themselves reported listening to the Freewheelin’ album until they wore it out.

Since being rejected by the UVA frat boys in 1961, Bob Dylan has sold more than 100 million records. No songwriter, past or present, has received so many awards and honors.  A partial list includes The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991), The Kennedy Center Honor (1997), an Academy Award Oscar for Best Song (2001), the Pulitzer Prize (2008), the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2012), and the Nobel Prize for Literature (2016).

There are perhaps a dozen men now into their 70s who may remember Bob Dylan from their fraternity house encounter in 1961. Fortunately, their rejection of the young artist did not kill his creative spirit. What if they had encouraged him? No telling to what heights he might have risen then.

Leave a comment

Filed under Entertainment, Famous People, Memoirs, Poetry, Writing

First the Path, Then the Companion

      In our dialog with other writers, we met D. Jean Quarles and traded some observations about the writing lifestyle.  Jean’s networking with additional writers generated a collection of observations, lessons, and confessions that she thought appropriate to share.  And thus, through Jean’s vision and effort, evolved an anthology that became the book, The Write Balance: Journaling The Writer’s Life now available as an Amazon download.

My short contribution is titled First the Path, Then the Companion.  The piece contains the kind of advice that an older writer might give to a younger one.  The first college professor who told me that I had the potential to be a literary artist tried to warn me about the detours to art that romance constructs.

Here then is my contribution to The Write Balance.  You might want to download the entire book to see what other writers advise.

Monty at the proverbial writing table

“After you have made the life-altering decision to travel in the direction of the literary arts, the next crucial decision is who will go with you as spouse or companion.  Do not put the second before the first, or you will create constant conflict instead of literature.

My second wife understood my passion to write, and she thus became
the great facilitator for a very productive writing period that did not depend on commercial success.  As my partner, copy editor, researcher, and manuscript preparer, we were able to produce novels, non-fiction books including a long two-subject biography, and libretti for an oratorio and two grand operas over a period now spanning 29 years.

First book in the Booker Series

Meanwhile, we operated a seasonal manufacturing and retail business to support ourselves and our three, now college graduated, daughters.

During those years, I wrote full-time six months and then worked seven days a week for six months in the business.  With the girls married, we sold the business in 1992 and have devoted ourselves full-time to the literature ever since.

Second book in the Booker Series

We count our satisfaction with lives lived in the dedicated pursuit of art not on published success, but rather by the manner in which we have remained faithful to whatever literary work was inspired for us to do.  We honored whatever talent we had in the completion of more than 50 major literary works. We fulfilled and continue to fulfill the will-to-art that provides meaning and purpose to our life together.

Monty with his wife Pat

As a genetically mandated writer, first commit to that path, and then find the very special someone who agrees to go that way with you.”

2 Comments

Filed under Family, Writing

George Garrett: Mentor to a Thousand Writers Like Me

George Garrett as seen by artist Steve Goldsworthy

When George Garrett arrived at the University of Virginia in the spring of 1962 and scheduled a creative writing class, I had lost my academic scholarship and my plan to go to medical school.  Two years of illness after surgery to save my right leg and an undiagnosed case of mononucleosis had left me in a perpetual state of fatigue.  No one can pass Organic Chemistry in that condition.

The only encouraging event in that disastrous second academic year was my term paper for the course in American Literature.  I rejected the topics suggested in the syllabus and asked the professor, Rex Worthington, if I could improve on Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises by writing an additional final chapter.  He attempted to dissuade me by saying, “If you pull it off, it’s an A.  If not, it’s an F.”  The paper was judged an A, and Rex told me that I was the first potential novelist that he had ever seen in his classroom.  So the following term, when George Garrett was holding interviews for admission to his creative writing class, I signed up.

When my fifteen minutes arrived, I entered George’s office on the fifth floor of New Cabell Hall with nothing to show but the faux Hemingway chapter.  We never got to it but somehow fell into telling each other boxing stories—me as a former would-be Golden Gloves fighter and George, who had been a semi-pro club boxer during his undergraduate days at Princeton.  Then there came a knock at his office door.  Another student applicant was waiting.  George apologized that he had to interrupt our conversation, and I made it to the door before it dawned on me that we had never talked about my writing.  I turned back to him with the begging question, “Am I in?”  His response was the most generous laugh I had ever heard.  “Are you kidding?” he said.  “Of course you are.”

Coming into George’s circle as a student and friend altered the direction of my life and set me on a course to produce over fifty major works of literature.  George was the master of inclusivity when other literary lights tended to form exclusive intellectual clubs.  It has been documented by R.H.W. Dillard and many others that George Garrett is “a widely beloved and revered figure.”  As a literary artist, George never repeated himself in a breadth of talent that seemed to befuddle critics who could not conveniently classify him.  In 11 novels, 8 short-story collections, 8 poetry collections, and 8 non-fiction books, George Garrett proved himself to be one of the best writers of his generation and an enduring resource to all who follow.

 In 1963, as a writing class project, George edited New Writing from Virginia, a small-volume anthology with an Afterword by Richard Wilbur, that was the first book publication for more than a handful of writers who went on to have notable literary careers.  I became the principal agent for the details of the publication.  I remember that Henry Taylor and I went to tea at an extravagant horse farm estate outside of Charlottesville to solicit funding for the project.  George, I guess, bore the costs of whatever we failed to raise.  When New Writing from Virginia was published, Bob Friedman (who went on to have a significant career as a publisher) and I presented copies to University President Edgar Finley Shannon, and an official photo was taken.  Copies of New Writing from Virginia are now valuable collector items.

 The story of how George employed Henry Taylor and me as audience shills for readings by William Faulkner is told in an earlier blog posting.  George later assured the publication of Henry Taylor’s first book of poems, The Horse Show at Midnight in 1966 by withdrawing an already accepted manuscript of his own poems when the LSU Press had room for only one more book that year.  In 1986, Henry won the Pulitzer Prize for his poems in The Flying Change, also published by the LSU Press.

 Each of us who had the benefit of mentoring by George Garrett has favorite stories to tell; and in 2003, a three-day literary festival was held at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville to celebrate the man and his literature.  I was there as a witness, and afterwards I wrote a reflective piece that I want to share as my tribute to George Garrett who died at the age of 78 in May 2008.  The David M. Rubenstein Library at Duke University houses the most extensive collection of Garrett’s manuscripts and letters.

 

THE PURPOSE OF GEORGE GARRETT

Literature is a high expression of the Divine attempting to know itself.  For life to know itself, to have awareness of itself, the mind was evolved into being.  The fine arts are thus the expressions of priests devoted to the recognition of the spiritual connections in all life forms.  The seeming obsession is that artists are laboring desperately to know themselves, and that they are willing to make great material sacrifices in these acts of discovery.

 Among those who are biologically driven to do this work of understanding, a precious few achieve the insights for which they were intended; and if we, the greater body of humanity, chance upon them, we are enriched and made more able to do the work for which we are intended.  This is the Divine plan—that we serve each other in the experience of living.

 George Garrett serves us, the cognizant humanity, in an exceptional body of work that elevates our awareness of what it means to live, to observe, to care, and to act with compassion.  Great literature should instruct us in the virtues of compassionate awareness and alter us to a better service of our hearts and minds.  We can ask no more of any co-creator of our universe except that he or she enlighten us to the nature of our own being, and it is for this personal, uniquely meaningful sharing of insight that we owe our respect, our gratitude, and the return of a loving embrace.  For great literature does indeed embrace us like a true, unselfish friend.  In more ways than all the books he has authored, George Garrett is our true friend, our mentor of self-awareness, our spirit guide; and with great courage, he has fulfilled the gift of his talent, met the requirements of Destiny, and achieved everything that any human being and artist should aspire to:  the reciprocal love of family and friends and the genuine respect of peers and readers.

George Garrett causes us to have the realization that service to our common humanity is still the best work of life.  On three days in early October of 2003, a festival was held to celebrate George Garrett, and it was like a tent revival meeting where no souls were lost, and the congregation went out—all of us—into the crisp Knoxville night joyfully happy and convinced of our mutual salvation.  Thank you, George.

 

2 Comments

Filed under Famous People, Writing