Archive for November, 2011

The Scam
November 20, 2011

This is not going to be a pitch- although I  hope many of you  will buy a copy, it’s a great stocking stuffer-it’s more an essay about the  fun of writing. Particularly a piece of fiction. if it’s humorous fiction so much the better. Humor seems to be the first thing lost when times are as bad as they are now. Where is Robert Benchley? Dorothy Parker? James Thurber? Walt Kelly?  We just lost Kurt Vonnegut who once said, “You can only be funny if you have matters of great importance on your mind.”

Kurt was called “the best least-read novelist in America.” I love that. I think, however, if Kurt was a ten on the ‘best least read novelist in America” I’m a ten plus. My novels haven’t been read at all.

Writing SCAM?  I’ll use a writer’s term, it was written in the zone. Most writers will tell you that books written in the zone are always the best. Dean Koontz speaks of The Watchers-hope you read it-I think it’s the best piece of fiction I ever read. I’ve read it at least a dozen time. To enjoy. To learn. To be humbled.

I’ll do more with the ‘zone’ thing after I make this observation: a writer MUST also be a reader.  As voracious a reader as he or she is a writer. I have to write like roosters have to crow. I blame it on my irish roots. I’m filled with words. Good thing there’s pen and paper otherwise the entire world would be deaf in both ears. Imagine me on a soap box.

The SCAM  was the first novel I ever wrote. In 1979. I started one in the 2nd grade but outgrew it.

Circumstance, unpleasant circumstance, by the way, got me started, it was write a book or go nuts, so I made up some characters, knew where they were to come in, where they were to go out, and then put a zillion of them in a setting I knew well. “Write about what you know about.” Remember? After that I just moved in with pencil and paper and took dictation. I wrote in a ‘classic’ fashion for the time. Long yellow legal, a pencil, then my husband’s ancient portable typewriter-I think I married him because he loved books and had a portable typewriter- and wrote a chapter a week until it was finished.

Actually, writing a piece of fiction is a bit like taking a trip, San Francisco to New York by car.  You know the route, you get on the road, and anything can happen. Detours. Blow outs.  Rain, sleet, and snow and goodness knows what wrong turns, but you do get there.

One of the characters in the book, Gypsy Jake, came out of nowhere and turned out to be the most important character in the book, I discovered as I journeyed on. Tolkien spoke of The Strider in the Hobbit-if you remember him- the same way and this is the most  fun that happens to a writer of fiction.

You can find The Scam on Amazon. The easiest way, I think, is to look in the Amazon search for The Scam by Bettejo Dux. Or you can check out Humorous Fiction Kauai and me and my wonderful book will pop right up. You can also find it under Kauai Fiction. It’s a madcap romp through North Shore Kauai in the 60’s.  “Lots of laughs and larcenous, licentious, and litigious characters. A delight for the mind and tickle for the funny bone. Entertaining and improbably possible.” So says a delighted  reader.

 

OLD KAUAI/NEW KAUAI
November 3, 2011

Kauai, through Karen’s eyes in the 60’s , was much different from Kauai through my eyes in ’11, but the Kauai she lived in is very much like mine.

Almost removed from time, my land in up-country Kalaheo, is still very much old Hawaii. Located in a valley  surrounded by a narrow, twisty two lane road and surrounded by open country, it smells, looks, sounds, tastes-if you pick and suck on a honeysuckle sweet Turk’s Head hibiscus and  savor a sun-rippened papaya-and touch every leaf and tree and bough. Every thing you touch is directly related to the same leaf and tree and bough that she once touched.

I’ve no street lights and little traffic at night, so at sun down and early morning before the sun comes up, it could be Hawaii a hundred years ago. I have to saunter outside my gates and walk a bit before I see the light of another house. My land is very animal friendly. It’s really an aviary. The song of the birds, there are hundreds, are a choir of delight; better than the pipes that awaken the Queen at Buckingham. I love the sound of the rooster crow, the cattle low, the dog bark, the occasional bray of a lonely mule. Playful winds keep leaves dancing and branches swaying and, in my wide open jungle house, transcend the need of an air conditioner. When the Night Blooming Jasmin blooms and the Sansiveria blossoms the scent wafting through the house is an open bottle of perfume sprinkled, spilled,  and generously splashed in every corner, every crevice every crack in the red tile floor. The downside  of this refreshing redolence is the same drafty breeze that scatters the scent also tosses leaves inside. I have the only house in the country you have to rake.

Here, in my outdoor ‘studio’, where I write deathless prose and nasty letters in the middle of a deep Honduran jungle, the bank behind me sways with the bobbing white heads of Walking Iris and  literally overflows with life and living things, old and new. A pair of rosy breasted thrush raise their kids in an urn on the  courtyard wall and moments ago my new puppy, Boots, who usually dozes at my feet, fell out of a thick green moss backed branch of a Holly Berry tree crawling with Lawai Fern. Maybe she thinks she’s a cat. In my house, in my life,  you can always expect the unexpected.

I don’t like to cook. I can’t cook. Really don’t have a kitchen. What passes as a land-locked galley is a passing through space where I open the fridge, grab a bite of cheese, a cracker, a handful of chocolate and a quick slug through the plastic spout of a container of orange juice on a galloping dash to someplace else. Any place else.  Bet you didn’t know cheese, crackers, chocolates and orange juice are a great afternoon snack?

I eat like a bird and if I ever invite you to a party where you know I’m going to cook, head immediately for Nome.

OLD RELIGION/NEW RELIGION
November 1, 2011

Another  difference between Karen’s Kauai and mine is there were not quite so many religious wackos then. Well, there was Gypsy Jake but he was kind of cute.

The ones roaming Kauai today, for the most part, aren’t so cute. Well there is one. A stud.  Maybe you saw him the other night?  The  one with the long brown hair, bare feet, white robe, staff and book tucked under his arm?  In the pouring down rain, he came walking up my road. With the wind and the rain in his hair and that wet robe-which, when wet, left little to the imagination-he was to die for. I mean, I wished I was sixty years younger.

In Karen’s Kauai, you could invite a guy like this in or pick him up  hitchhiking. Well, the hell with it, it was raining, I can offer shelter to any  hunk I want to offer shelter to. I trotted to the gates, swung them wide and invited him in. There was no verbal exchange. Just shy smiles.

He dripped his way into the house and  drenched the pillows when he sank into the couch. When he saw the kids, he smiled. Teeth kind’a yellow. “I love animals,” he said.

“They like you, too. Good sign. More George Burns than the kid in the Omen. Are you really who you look like?”

“Do I look like him?”

“No one knows what he looked like. Not many paparazzi in those days. But you do look like the pictures I’ve seen. Tea and cookies or wine and cheese?”

He chose wine and cheese. Luckily I had a bottle of Chardonnay cooling its heels. I  love crackers and cheese so I made a pupu platter. When I got back to the porch he was up and talking to the kids. I set the ice bucket and  glasses down and went back for the tray. When I came back I offered him a cracker. “They  love crackers. Also papaya skins. I eat the papaya, they, all of them, love the skin.We who break papaya together…”

“…or crumble crackers.” He crumbled the crackers and the kids nibbled through the fence, then went back to the couch and soaked the cushions again. They scrunched like a sponge when he sat. I’d  hoped he’d perform a miracle and dry himself off. The cushions, too.

We clinked glasses, I sat beside him in a dry spot. We sipped and munched in silence. I spoke first with my mouth full, ” So. Can you walk on water?”

“What do you think?”

“As you know I’m not a believer.”

“I read your posts.”

“I’m  flattered.”

“Everybody reads your posts.”

“Wait’ll they read The SCAM.”

“Larcenous, licentious and litigious? That’s a mouthful,” he said with his mouthful.

“You didn’t quote at me.”

He opened his book, Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist, on the table. “I think you have a copy.”

“Signed.”

“Well I must away.  My wife’s making me a bowl of nice hot soup.”

“Nice costume,” I said as I led him to the gate.