The Pumpkin Plant that Ate Onancock
It's also a good summer to be a writer, if you're me. I just received this email from the new publishers of the Prague Revue, the literary journal that published one of my first short stories back in the 90's:
I wanted to notify you that we are relaunching The Prague Revue. Beyond inviting you to submit any new material at the provided address, I would also like to inform you that your story The Foreigner has been selected to be part of a web retrospective highlighting some of our favorite stories over the years. It will have a featured spot on the front page of the website, which we plan to go live with sometime within the next two weeks. If we could obtain your permission to include this story on our webpage we would be very grateful. I trust the writing is going well and look forward to hearing from you. If you have any further questions or comments please e-mail back at this address.
The Prague Revue
V Jámě 7 110 00 Praha
So, that was very gratifying. I haven't written a short story in many years but his has me thinking.
As are the reader responses to Brothers of the Fire Star which, though not officially released until October 4th, is being sold locally:
I just finished reading your latest book. Congratulations! A great read AND you got all the facts right! Can we sell this in the Guampedia bookstore? Everyone in Micronesia should read it. You, my friend, did a great job in portraying a moving story with lots of history and culture of the Marianas and the Carolines. Shannon M., Guam
I just finished Brothers of the Fire Star... one of the best books I have ever read, & sure to be one of the most memorable... I'll be thinking about that ending for some time before I move on...Larry R, Okinawa
That's just a couple. Happily, all the reactions I've received run along those lines. Happily? Actually, no, it's thrilling. When you read a review like that, your heart races and your stomach jumps.
As for the giant pumpkin plant, the story goes like this: I've always wanted to grow a giant pumpkin. You know, the kind you see on news reports, the kind that weighs a hundred pounds. And so, my son-in-law says, "Well, we bought a giant pumpkin last Halloween and I saved some seeds." He handed me a sealed plastic bag. It felt slightly illegal. I looked over my shoulder; had the neighbors seen this transaction?
So, in May, I planted three of them. One grew a stunted plant that went nowhere. One grew a smaller shoot that is doing okay. But the last one is almost scary. It is growing a foot a day, the vine moving along the ground like a sentient creature, the lead shoot standing up like a green snake with its tendrils reaching out, finding the way. I grew up on a farm with a big garden and I never saw anything like this. I keep watering it, feeding it, talking to it. Maybe I should stop. It's getting out of hand. I don't dare lie down on that chaise lounge--I could wake up inside a pumpkin.