Wednesday, March 2, 2011

the doomed: the memoirs of arnold schnabel - the early years

by arnold schnabel

edited by professor dan leo

illustrated by konrad kraus

part one of six

"arnold schnabel is the american strindberg or hamsun - perhaps even the american hofmannsthal" - horace p sternwall

Part One

I hate the beach, and truth be told I’m not all that crazy about sunshine.

But I have come here, to my aunts’ place in Cape May, because my mother thinks it would be good for me, and because she likes to see her sisters now and then.

My mother also has no interest in the beach. She spends her days mostly working in the garden, or trimming the hedges.

I read, walk around, try to stay sane.

I go to mass every morning without fail, and I think that helps. (Or so I pray. I pray that the daily mass helps. I pray that my prayers help.)

Occasionally I stop in a bar and nurse a beer. I look at baseball games on the television.

Sometimes I get into conversations with people. Americans seem to be a friendly sort by and large. People like to talk. With little or no prodding they will and do tell you everything about themselves.

I listen, or sort of listen, I like to think I have always been very much a nice guy, but I do not reciprocate their autobiographical effusiveness.

What can I tell them?

That I live with my mother and except for the few years of my decidedly unheroic military career have always lived with my mother, that, again excepting for my time in the modest service of Uncle Sam, I have worked my entire life as a brakeman for the Reading Railroad, that last winter I went completely out of my mind and spent eight weeks in Byberry?

That after a while I returned to work but, following a few embarrassing episodes (some of which I was aware of at the time, others to which I was oblivious), it was strongly suggested that I take an extended leave of absence on half-pay?

That I was on prescribed pills but stopped taking them?

That after ceasing to take these pills I would occasionally suffer the most frightening hallucinations, hallucinations which while they were happening were as real as anything I have experienced in my life?

And that -- knock on wood -- it has now been a few weeks since my last “episode”?

No, I choose not to share all this with my new temporary friends.

I won’t say no one wants to hear this sort of thing because actually people love to hear horror stories, as of course do I.

No, I simply don’t want to be the one telling them, with me as the subject; except for here, in this notebook, where it’s all between me, myself and that other lunatic: I.

End of Part One

part 2


Jason Gusmann said...

what a fantastic combination. just the right length too.

Peter Greene said...

Arnold. Schnabel. Kicks. Butt.

Deathless, pure. Same goes for you, rhoda - this is something fine indeed. wherever and however all these things came to be, they're as right as a plate of fried eggs.

Thanks for this.


Dan Leo said...

I just want to say it's great to see Konrad out of rehab and back in the saddle again. I'll never forget when I first met him, back in -- oh, Christ, I'm dating myself here -- but it must have been the very early 50s, 1953 I guess and I had just gotten my first editing job at Ace Books, and Konrad was the art director/cover artist/rewrite man/book titler/ad director/you-name-it.. .God the times we had, like one night at the Kettle of Fish Konrad bets Horace P. Sternwall (on contract with us at the time, knocking out a great new novel every month as well as writing some of his best poems on the side) ten bucks to write a book with the stupidest title Konrad can come up with. Horace takes the bet, and Konrad thinks for a second and gives him a title, which really was a stupid title, even for Ace Books. A few weeks later Horace strolls into the office on Madison and hands in the typescript for "The Apologetic Policeman" and asks Konrad for his ten bucks. Konrad goes, "You idiot! I said 'The Apoplectic Policeman'!" No problem, though, we of course published "The Apologetic Policeman" (great fucking book, too), and a month later Horace brings in the sequel, "The Apoplectic Policeman" (also great). In fact this turned into one of our most popular series, with Horace cranking out in quick succession titles like "The Importunate Policeman", "The Impossible Policeman", "The Perturbed Policeman" and ten or fifteen others...all because of one of Konrad's crazy drunken bets. Welcome back, Konny!

human being said...

well... i'm one of those lunetics who enjoys hearing/reading such stuff!

a really good read! also i like konrad's style... his selective use of colors...

just one point: if you want to grow more naturally, try to keep away from your mother some time... mothers are trimming most of the time! and that's too bad for your health... i'm a mother and i had a big fight with that trait of mine! :)

Unknown said...

At first Dan I had to wonder why, even as Arnold's editor, you're going on about horace. (He seems to be everywhere.)
But the Policeman novels do sound as if they fit well with Arnold's start in Cape May.
rhoda, actually seeing Arnold being escorted to the elevator--heartbreaking.