Monday, April 25, 2011

Jean Shepherd Tonight: Part 1 of "Duel in the Snow, or Red Ryder Nails the Cleveland Street Kid"

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by Ken

Last night we had the first chapter of Jean Shepherd's story collection-cum-novel In God We Trust -- All Others Pay Cash, which brought another visit from our favorite Shepherd expert, Eugene B. Bergmann (author of Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd), who among other things offered some interesting background on the book:
As for your correct comment that his IN GOD WE TRUST, ALL OTHERS PAY CASH is "a novel of sorts," I agree and have always insisted that his interspersing the short segments about him talking in the bar with friend Flick do not at all make the book a "novel." The linking device is inadequate for attempting to tie together a group of different short stories, which were edited from his radio work. The stories themselves are great--good stuff and fun to read. I believe Shepherd felt the added prestige of a novel over the short story form. Even his publisher allowed the word novel to appear on the front cover of the book. Publishers can be such nice people!

My thought:
No, of course In God We Trust . . . isn't really a novel, and it's discouraging to learn how it took its curious form.

On the other hand, framing the old stories in the "reality" of the present added a whole dimension. And because both times were so well observed, they take on an added dimension now that we're farther removed in time from the "present" of 1966 than it was from the period when the stories took place. This is one of the things that makes writers who are so wonderfully observant so precious -- the writing doesn't get old.

In Chapter II, we make our first leap from the "present" (1966) back to Ralph's Depression-era childhood.


FOR THE START OF "DUEL IN THE SNOW, OR RED
RYDER NAILS THE CLEVELAND STREET KID," CLICK HERE



THURBER TONIGHT (including BENCHLEY, WILL CUPPY, WOLCOTT GIBBS, RING LARDNER, BOB AND RAY, E. B. WHITE, and JEAN SHEPHERD TONIGHT): Check out the series to date
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2 Comments:

At 1:54 AM, Blogger jazzolog said...

I grew up in Jamestown, New York, a good 360 miles from Manhattan or the Jersey radio transmitter from which Shep variously broadcast. I could pick up WOR-AM at night though, and so through the 1950s I tried to hear him every night. I believe some of the broadcasts are available on CD, and anyone really interested in this phenomenal storyteller is well advised to get after them. There still are some of us around who can tell you what a profound influence he was!

 
At 4:42 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

Well said, J. Thanks!

Cheers,
Ken

 

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