I’d like to announce the release of my new book, The Old Crow Book Club. It emerged quite unexpectedly from my writing of this newsletter, which will continue for the foreseeable future because the issue of homelessness is something I can’t stop caring or writing about. I like to believe I engage it in a novel and meaningful way.
If you purchase the book through my website at nestuccaspitpress.com, I will throw in an extra copy for you to leave in a free street library in your neighborhood. I can also supply a cheap set for a book club.
You can also help the book’s distribution by making a donation via the website to hire homeless men and women to stock street libraries around the Portland metropolitan area. I’ve already implemented this unique distribution model and could use additional support, and perhaps, one large benefactor.
I will derive no profits from any sales of The Old Crow Book Club. All monies earned will fund expanded distribution. Thank you for your support and keep reading the newsletter. I have a lot more stories to share.
The introduction to The Old Crow Book Club is below:
I had written over 200,000 words about Oregon’s homeless crisis in multiple genres: essay, satire, short story, children’s story, a Hallmark Christmas film treatment, stream of consciousness, memoir, reportage, epistle, polemic, even a poem set in a dystopian gas station.
If I published all the writing, it would amount to an 800-page book!
A lot of it was writing about how I was writing about the homeless. I had name dropped Jean-Paul Sartre, Gertrude Stein, Rebecca Solnit and Denis Johnson. No one wanted to read that meta drivel. No one wanted to read a Manhattan phone book without a narrative or denouement.
It was all one big fat misshapen mishmash of a book, with even a real kitchen sink thrown in and other images as well:
A game of foosball in a homeless encampment.
A baptism of a homeless man in a kiddie pool.
An osprey that dropped an eel from the sky into a homeless encampment and they fried the damn thing up for supper!
A domicile constructed from discarded encyclopedias.
A homeless man blowtorching crawdads on a grill.
A homeless heavy metal guitarist who lived in a tent camper surrounded by dozens of Santa Clauses and headless dolls.
A dumbwaiter constructed inside a two-storey pallet shanty.
A women living in a homeless encampment who erected a stripper pole.
A homeless man mushing a team of huskies pulling a trio of baby strollers loaded with cans.
A pirate fleet of derelict boats in the Willamette River that raided decks of luxury houseboats for furniture and propane tanks.
A homeless man who used an abandoned refrigerator as an armoire.
What did I really have? What was worth keeping? What was worth distilling? What was worth publishing? What to say about a national emergency that breaks my heart every moment I encounter it, something that occurs two or three times a day in Oregon wherever I go?
I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood and held out hope that some guidance might emerge.
A block from home, I looked left up a street and there was my homeless friend Mark, sitting on a sidewalk, reading a book, and drinking a can of malt liquor. I stopped and stared.
Mark was the book! Mark the bibliophile, Mark and his Cannery Row collection of other homeless men and women in the neighborhood with their bittersweet storytelling, hilarious conversations and addled antics that all went down precisely where Mark was now sitting.
I didn’t know how the book would turn out. I did know it wasn’t going to be a microcosm of anything. Instantly, I cut 190,000 words from the manuscript and felt so happy I almost kicked up my heels.
And I already had the title: The Old Crow Book Club.