Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Finishing Ben Hale's Littlemore Novel . . .

Benjamin Hale
Looking like both Pete and Leigh . . .

I've finished Ben Hale's novel, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, and intend to yo-yo back to the start and begin again. But my mind now turns first to other beginnings, among them, Ben's own. I've already recalled in one of these posts, maybe a year ago, that I knew Ben when he was only about one week old and living in Livermore, California, where my boyhood friend Pete Hale, Ben's father, had moved with his wife Leigh for a job as a physicist way back in the early eighties, and that memory in turn takes me back to the Arkansas Ozarks and times with Pete, long conversations about science and life over books and LP records. We discussed Tolkien's Hobbit, which Pete introduced me to, and The Whole Earth Catalogue, to which I was also introduced by Pete. He was more literary than I back in those days . . . and possibly still is. I also learned from Pete of the eccentric genius Buckminster Fuller, with his crazy idea -- based on his thoughts about the synergetics of tensegrity spheres, I reckon -- that mankind is nature's ultimate 'anti-entropic' device. Absurd! We're here to make a mess of things! And Fuller couldn't write, either. He may have been a "verb," but he packed his books with sesquipedelian substantives that Pete could understand but that baffled me. Moreover, Pete himself could write, more creatively than I, so Ben must have inherited some of that talent from him, though maybe even more from Leigh, his mother, but I don't know her writing. Ben offers both parents an ironically touching tribute:
Infinite love and thanks to my parents, Charley and Leigh -- who raised me in a house full of books, and who for better or worse made me who I am . . . . (Ben Hale, The Evolution of Bruno Littlemore, p. 577)
They seem to have done a rather good job of that, so it must have been for better. I missed out on those years of their lives, however, for the family moved away from Livermore, and I soon took my own adventurous way through the big, wide world, hardly thinking of the old days or old times as fascinating new days with new times filled my life around the world, until Pete somehow located me by internet in 1998, when I was living in Jerusalem and doing postdoctoral research at Hebrew University, but we corresponded seldom, the World Wide Web being less efficient in those days, and only took up more regular correspondence after I had been in Korea a few years with a family of my own. How odd to discover that Pete and Leigh have 'produced' such a literary genius. Not that I can't see this clearly in retrospect. Rather, that one doesn't expect the offspring of a boyhood friend to achieve such literary heights, and so youthfully achieved, at that! One expects more degrees of separation between oneself and literary giants . . . which Ben will be one day, and perhaps already is. The novel is great. I know, I know, there are mixed reviews . . . but a great book judges those who judge it, so judge not, that ye be not judged! I was enthralled by Bruno's story, as captive as Bruno ever was. There are things to discuss, of course, for Bruno -- like Roy in Blade Runner -- has done 'questionable' things. But not today . . .

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At 8:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are too kind, Jeff, thanks, and I'm really glad you liked "Bruno". It's frankly written for people like YOU, who are omnivorous readers and thinkers. I hope he's got lots more in him, and I actually do believe he very likely does. We did have a pretty charmed growing-up in Salem/Horseshoe in many ways, didn't we (some more charmed than others, of course). I was just extremely fortunate to talk you awe-inspiring Seniors into letting the Junior twerp from Horseshoe Bend (hey non-Arkie readers, there are plenty sillier town names in Arkansas, believe me! tho, "Horseshoe Bend" is pretty silly, I have to admit) join your number back in the day. Funny you mention "TWEC", I still think about it pretty regularly. My older brother bought that for our dad, who as far as I could tell, found it to be...unpalatable; and so I swooped in and made it mine! Every single solitary page of it, in my manic-obsessive case...Anyhow, again super-glad you found "Bruno" to be worthy and interesting. --Pete

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, I look forward to Ben's future work.

As for letting you join us seniors . . . that seems to have worked out well for me since I now know an authentic writer.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 1:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Jeff,

'Ol Bucky boy could write actually. Leastwise good enough to draw a set of architectural plans up with accompanying "clear" text so's an aspiring "Hillbilly" could follow along and direct a bunch of Pennsylvanian "Hippy Carpenters" to building a geodesic dome in the suburbs of Flint Hills just south of your beloved Salem.

One thing Bucky didn't reckon with (but I improvised) Bucky's wiring plans kept mentioning something about a 'ground wire' - which at the time, Salem's version of an "electrical supply place" only supplied Romex of the hot and neutral variety.

(That - provided I remember correctly it was you changing/screwing with the basement lightbulb - you got shocked. Perhaps you "stepped into the role" of acting as a groundwire.)

- My "improvisation" was to have the "folks" buy wire of the 240 volts variety, we used the redleg as a ground. -


[Odd that the first four letters of my verification thingy spell, "pyre." - Best check the OED concerning "fead."]

At 4:44 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, Ms. Hilda Doolittle, you and Pete are both smarter than I am, so you can read Mr. Fuller with understanding.

But those of us less gifted, Mr. Fuller's preference for a substantive when a verb would do leaves us baffled.

Jeffery Hodges

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